They Shoot Horses, Don't They? Cappy Jackson's Equine Photo Tips

All Photos by Cappy Jackson

A prize-winning photographer who's best known for her equestrian images, Cappy Jackson got an early start. At age 14 she became an assistant to an established pro, Peter Winants, who was the staff photographer for a magazine called Maryland Horse. "Besides being a great photographer, Peter was also incredibly gifted when communicating with people, relaxing them and the horses they were handling," she recalls.

Jackson's career got jump-started in 1971 when her first black-and-white photo of a steeple-chase race appeared in another equestrian magazine, The Chronicle of the Horse. Later, when Winants left for Virginia, Jackson became one of three photographers who was on the staff of Maryland Horse. She also branched out and did "odds and ends" free-lancing for other horse magazines, and covered the equestrian events in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

A dramatic profile photographed at an Arabian Horse Show in Scottsdale, Arizona.

An Expanding Repertoire
Originally a black-and-white devotee ("I learned to see in black-and-white"), Jackson gradually started shooting in color in the mid-80s. She attended courses at Maine Photographic Workshops, and expanded her repertoire. "I even explored the possibilities of showing my work as fine art, but was told that my photos were too commercial, and to stick with the magazines," she states.

Jackson began working with horse breeders and her advertising photos appeared in horse trade publications and airline magazines, and she sold some images as stock. One publication asked her to cover the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Although they covered most of her costs, the magazine wasn't able to acquire press credentials to the Olympic games. "I had to beg, borrow and steal my way into the equestrian events," she recalls. It was worth it, as this effort resulted in a book collaboration in '84, entitled American Gold.

A rider pats a horse after a morning gallop, Ocala, Florida.

In 1992, she got a call from Horse and Rider magazine, and her first assignment--shooting images of quarter horses--earned Jackson a cover story. Her work has appeared regularly in the pages of this publication ever since, and she does much location shooting for them. Today, she does advertising photography for ranches and clients in various parts of the country. Jackson credits Cam Essick--an art director/designer/"horse woman" at Pacific Range Design--for designing great ads for her clients.

Additionally, Jackson shoots about 20--30 weddings a year, and does commercial work for the fashion industry and the National Football League. Other clients include ABC Sports, United States Olympic Committee, Pfizer, Encyclopedia Britannica, Barry Bricken and Budweiser. She's also been published in Practical Horseman, USA Today, Vanity Fair, Baltimore Magazine, The Baltimore Sun, GQ, The New York Times, and Mid-Atlantic Country.

An exposure of 1¼1000 was used to capture this frolicking foal.

Jackson says that no matter what the assignment is, she approaches her work with a photojournalistic style, which enables her to cover a wide variety of events in an unobtrusive manner.

Jackson concludes, "I am blessed to be involved in a profession that is also my passion. I learn more every time I pick up a camera, and the opportunities are endless, if you go for them."

Yearling quarter horse colts at play.