In which a guest stops by to tell about being a photographer

Aarene's introduction:  In the past few years I've learned a lot about being a photographer from my friend Monica.  Monica has taught me a lot about light and angle and composition....and mostly what I've learned is that taking really good photographs is a lot more difficult than just showing up and pressing a button.  

That's why I'm so thrilled to host today's guest blogger:  a talented photographer who is also a talented rider...who is also one of my "former juniors."  

(It's kind of awkward to say that a person is my "former junior," actually.  The truth is that, although Jessica Anderson grew out of junior status a long time ago, I will always consider her one of my own, although we haven't yet ridden an endurance ride together.  She was a kid in camp when I was an adult in camp, and that makes her one of mine--and since I love all my juniors for life, I am happy to say that, even after all these years, when she's in camp and I'm in camp, she still feels comfortable letting the adults in my camp give her breakfast.)

What is your name?
Jessica of Vancouver

What is your quest?
To catch the holy grail of photos – “all four feet off the ground!”

What is your favorite colour?*  
Blue. (No really, it is!)

How did you get started riding endurance?My mom grew up riding endurance. She returned to it in her mid-20's and started riding endurance again. For my 10th birthday, I blew out my candles with a wish to be an endurance rider like my mom. 
The very first horse Jessica ever rode: Joyce K's mare Cassidy 

Soon after, I finished my first ride, the 1998 Bully Wully 25 miler. It was HARD. I am pretty sure I cried, and my sponsor, Patty P., would ride up ahead chanting “WE ARE WARRIORS! WE FEEL NO PAIN!” 

Trotting out at that first ride in 1998.  The horse "Dancer' belonged to a friend.
By all accounts, horse and rider were pretty tired at the end.
But they finished!
I really looked up to more experienced junior riders like Amanda Anderson and Kelsey Johnson. I would do a 25 mile ride and at the awards, I'd see them get called up for doing 50's and 75's. It really motivated me to do the longer distances.

In 2000, I sold the schooling horse I learned to ride on, Fire, and bought my first endurance horse, MC Isaac. I was 12 years old and he was 5. Isaac looked like a furry cart pony, a grade Arab gelding towering proudly at 15 hands. Someone commented that he'd “never be a 100-mile horse.” 

First season with Isaac (far left).  Stookey Stampede 60-miler, 2000.

We went on to complete five 100's together, and he has completed eight during his career. On our first 50 in the senior division, we cantered in to a brisk 4:39 finish time, where he dumped me over the finish line. That's just the kind of horse he was.
In this photo from HOTR 2003,
you can almost see Isaac planning that finish line maneuver.
What have you learned from endurance that has helped you in other parts of your life?
How to finish things I'd sometimes rather quit. When I was doing 75's and 100's, I would get overwhelmed and discouraged thinking about the day ahead. I had to split the ride up into sections, tricking myself into getting it done. “Oh, we're at the 40 mile vet check of a 100 mile ride? Just going to pretend we didn't do that first 40, now we're only doing a 60!” I worked retail the entire time I was in college and I frequently used that tactic to get through busy, understaffed 9-hour days
I was the PNER Junior Representative for a couple of years (2002,2003?) and ran a website and email group for junior riders in PNER and AERC, 

Juniors at the 2003 PNER convention
Tiffany is back row, left.  Madeline is front row, left. Jessica is front row, center.

which meant I had to attend the board meetings at the annual regional convention. As dull as that can be for a 13 year old, I actually learned a lot about leadership from that experience.

You were absent from the sport for a while, getting educated and stuff. We're so glad you've returned! What brought you back to ridecamp?
Much like my mother returning to the equestrian world in her 20's, I was feeling sort of lost, drifting through adulthood. I asked myself when the last time I felt secure and motivated, and the answer was when I was competing on Isaac. Growing up in ride camp, I was raised by the village and I wanted to go home.

I couldn't afford to just go, let alone ride, and photographing the ride became a way for me to return to the endurance world. Its also made me a better photographer, I learned a lot by just doing.

Jess has certainly gotten the hang of taking good pictures
of the Dragon and me!  Bare Bones 2013.
If you missed her blog post about "how to look good
in your ride photos" you can read it HERE.
Are you riding much now?
I'm not riding as much as I'd like to be, but an endurance friend is letting me ride one of the young horses. I've always been more comfortable focusing on one or two horses at a time. A big part of my enjoyment in riding comes from working as a team and developing a relationship with the horse, so I don't tend to just hop on any available steed. I did get to do the 30 mile ride at the Seneca Endurance Ride in July, which reignited the desire to compete. Part of my summer was spent at Sabiq Arabian Ranch, helping with conditioning and training. 

Summer 2013 at Sabiq Arabian Ranch, .
This photo shows SAR ImaStorminorman (Norm)'s 2nd time under saddle.

Eventually, I'd love to get back into it. Isaac paid his dues and at 19, he is now owned by wonderful people in Arizona. I can only hope to find a horse like that again.

The ride season in the PNW is almost over.  How will you and your camera keep busy during the winter?
I plan to be at the 2014 PNER Convention, we have some cool ideas for that but I don't have all of the details worked out yet so you'll have to stay tuned! I'm also doing some light design work, like the cover of the next PNER handbook and new graphics for the Mount Adams Endurance Ride.

I've had some inquiries about doing photo sessions with horses and families, which I'm really excited about. I have done that type of work for family but I'm eager to develop a different set of photography skills.

Can readers who are interested in your work see more of it online?
I have a portfolio website at with some of my favorite pieces and all of my 2013 ride photos (“Storefront”). Social networking is more important than ever, and all of my accounts (Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr, Facebook) are accessible from the navigation on my website. If you “like” my Facebook (, you'll see updates about rides I'm going to, items available on my storefront, and any new photos I've taken. 

Julie and Selah at Foothills of the Cascade, 2013
Photo by Jessica Anderson

What can you say to readers who might want to hire you as an artist/photographer?
Contact me so we can talk! Figuring out what your needs and ideas are helps me develop concepts that best fit your vision, and make sure its in the realm of something I can deliver.

What questions do you have for the Haiku Farm blog readers?
What are your favorite kinds of ride photos to have? i.e. close-up portrait, vertical cover-style shot, horizontal scenic vistas.

Personally, I like a photo that shows how pretty the ride is,
as well as pix that show how pretty my horse is!

Sometimes people say they have a lot of ride photos that look the same. What makes a photo unique for you?

Would you rather have photos available to purchase at the ride, or have more candids taken but have photos only available online? I love shooting candids but I often run out of time because I have to set up to print.

Last question from Jessica to the Haiku Farm readership: 

Should she order her new endurance tack in Pink & Blue or Pink & Green??? 

Please leave your opinions in the comment box!


  1. Jess is one of those people who when I see her - just makes me smile! :-) Then - there's that innate talent with a camera that has come naturally to her! I'm looking forward to seeing how she hones her craft as time goes on! I vote for pink/green!


    I chose you to pass ablog award on to....


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