The Art of the Chase of the Hunt-a young photographer finds his niche in rich horse country
When you live in one of the most beautiful historic horsey areas in the USA, it’s hard not to be involved with horses and pick up a camera!
It all started two years ago for Alec Thayer, a typical teenager who resides in Unionville, PA. In my opinion, Unionville, PA and the surrounding area ranks right up there as far as a more amazing famous horsemen/women found per square mile than any other place in the United States. Eventing, Dressage and Racetrack Superstars such as Phillip Dutton, Martin Boyd, Silva Boyd, Michael W Dickinson, Lana DuPont, Bruce Davidson, Jennie Brannigan- Just to name a few off the top of my head(sorry if I missed you). I’d have to do a whole blog post as to who lives around there!
If you ever get a chance to drive down the stone wall lined country roads in that area you will understand why.
What started it all for Alec, of AP3 Photography, was taking a national outdoor leadership school program. He was assigned to take 10 pictures a day. He enjoyed that so much that when he returned home that he took his camera and headed down the road to the Plantation Horse Trials to take some more!
After Plantation, he received many encouraging comments about his pictures that he has taken photography up as a main hobby. With a good natural eye and a camera in hand, Alec set off for more competitions and horsey events to attend to.
What do you love so much about what you do?
Being a recreational horseback rider and a self proclaimed adrenaline junky- skiing, sailing, etc.. Alec comments that he understands the timing of the horse & rider jumping. He really enjoys the challenge of taking pictures of a moving object and getting that perfect shot! That is his adrenaline rush when taking pictures of horsey subjects.
When fall came, Alec started to chase Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds. Started in the early 1900′s, the Cheshire Hunt has a rich heritage and is still a very active hunt. This is where the real love for photography started for Alec. For him, and many other foxhunting photographers, it’s the Chase of the Hunt that makes them come back for more!
Pictured above, it’s not just some crazy fit guy who runs 10 miles or more with the Cheshire Hounds on foot, but a very famous steeplechase jockey/ 5 Guiness Book of World Record title holder / turned race horse trainer from UK who also trained in Maryland, USA- Michael W Dickinson!
What do you love the most about taking pictures of foxhunting?
All of it, he replied. It’s the whole thing: capturing parts of the hunt, getting up close and achieving the ultimate goal of getting a picture of the hunted- Mr. Fox! It’s the challenge of figuring out where to be and how to get there ahead of the hunt so you can actually get a picture of it happening! It’s a game of getting the whole thing on camera.
Alex explains, that there are about 30-40 in car followers of the hunt. They follow the hunt in vehicles and all end up following the guy in the hound truck! The hound truck guy has “specialized skills, fox radar, built-in intuition, along with excellent driving skills” to know the back roads inside & out and where the hunt is probably going. First Alec would follow in his own vehicle, but has befriended the hound truck guy and now he rides with him!
This has enabled Alec to capture the real prize- the fox!
I asked Alec what he does in the off season. He replied, ” There really is no off season. There is a nice balance between Eventing and Foxhunting.” At the moment, finishing High School and getting accepted into College is the main priority for this young photographer. Alec hopes to get back into full swing once summer arrives. In the meantime, when he can, he gets out to continue to shoot photos.
His photography goals are to take some lighting classes and learn about indoor studio lighting. His ultimate dream location to shoot would be The World Equestrian Festival- CHIO Aachen this summer!
Best of luck with all your goals this year Alec!
I just love this picture, it reminds me of an old English hunt painting!
To see more of Alec Thayer- Check out his website and follow him on Facebook!
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