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CREDIT: Luke Parkinson LRPS

Luke Parkinson LRPS

Jana Murray interviews equine photographer Luke Parkinson LRPS about the challenges of photographing animals

Q. When did you first become interested in photography and how?

A. I became interested in photography when I spotted some kingfishers on our village pond in the New Forest. I started out with a Canon 300 film camera and 28-90mm kit lens. It was disappointing to see a small blue speck in the centre of my prints when they came back developed, but it made me want to get better equipment to get better results. Over time I was able to upgrade to a Canon 350D with a 70-200mm f4 lens. I continued to photograph kingfishers, with my father, Lyndon Parkinson, and Dean Mason. We would drive to Dorset and be riverside before first light and leave after dusk, sitting just a couple of metres away from the birds. It’s one of my most enduring memories. In 2012 I was shortlisted for Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year and British Wildlife Photographer of the Year. 


Q. How did you find the LRPS journey?  

A. I was fortunate enough to receive my LRPS through my Level 5 HND qualification. I worked hard to achieve a standard of work equivalent to LRPS and I've had two exhibitions in Lymington and at Southampton City Art Gallery. It’s so rewarding to see your hard work in print and displayed for the joy of others to see. I would encourage anybody to apply for a Licentiateship through the Royal Photographic so that you go through the process of selecting your work and displaying your images in a professional format. 


Q. You grew up around horses and are known for your beautiful equine photos. What makes horses such a fascinating subject for you and what are the challenges of filming animals (they say never work with animals or children!)?

A. Living in the New Forest all my life, and having ponies in the family, it was natural for me to be drawn to photographing horses. Feeling a connection between with the horse helps produce the best results. Working around the horse, I need to be sure I have their full trust and they have mine. Each horse I photograph is different. A dressage or showjumping horse, for example, would stand tall and proud - here I could focus on some close ups of the muscular features of the show horse and the curvature of the dressage. The horses can get quite bored during the shoot, however it’s amazing how inquisitive and alert they become when you have a bucket of nuts or a packet of polos. When photographing BE90 champion, Wayland Timberry, and owner, Sophie Albury, we even used my Collie’s squeaky toy!


Q. Can you talk us through some of your beautiful horse photos.

A. These two images are very similar, however I just love their eyes! Both were taken on my Nikon D810 with the Sigma 105mm Art lens. I like the simplicity of the images, but they also leave the viewer wanting to know more; they doesn’t give any clues away about the horses' professional careers. 

This photo tells a different story; the horse is tacked up with a tight rein which means that it must be mounted. The lines of the image all lead to the head of the horse. The lights are perfectly positioned to light the face and neck, but also the other side of the horse, giving a rim light on the mane. Without those, the dark mane would probably just blend into the background. 


Q. I understand you are a big fan of the RPS. How can the society attract more younger members like yourself?

A. The RPS is an internationally recognised organisation and the fee for the membership is very good - in fact one of the very best. I would encourage anybody of any age to join the RPS for any of the many benefits offered to members.  The RPS also offers bursaries for MA and BA (Hons) courses for those who want to top up their photographic qualifications. 


Q. What’s next on your photographic journey?

A. I am going to continue pursuing my dream of photographing horses professionally in the studio, .  I previously photographed Birds of Prey in the studio and this is also something I would like to do as a project in the background. I also plan to continue where I left off with my wildlife photography. Kingfishers are what made me start this journey and what have given me some of the best memories, so hopefully, when I am not editing and photographing horses, I will be spending time relaxing with my camera by a river. 


The article was originally published in February 2020