I’ve been to Saratoga Race Course countless times and have snapped countless photographs during myriad races, whether it be on my camera or smartphone. The results? Always delete-able blurs of god-awful nothingness. Although you can find my photo byline out in cyberspace (if you really dig deep, but who has the time for that?), I’ll be the first to admit that I have zero talent as a photographer—especially, as a horse photographer. The exact opposite can be said of the amazing Tracey Buyce, a longtime contributor to saratoga living, who’s such a talent at it, it’s almost impossible to put it into words—which is obviously more of my forte. Let me give it a try.
In 2012, Buyce chased down her dream of owning a horse, acquiring a palomino American quarter horse which she named Henri, after the famed French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. Naturally, with riding and the simple enjoyment of owning him came an interest in photographing horses. Three years later, she got serious about it and never looked back.
As you can imagine, photographing a horse requires more than that point-and-shoot technique I’ve been attempting (and failing at) all these years at the track. It’s much more nuanced and decidedly, rather complex. Buyce says she’ll often have another person at the shoot in order to offset her and her camera’s presence around her equine subjects. “I have a horse-noise app that will mimic the sound of an actual horse to get them looking in the right direction,” she says of another one of her methods. Above all, photographing horses requires a good deal of patience. “I spend a lot of time in the pasture with the horses waiting for that…moment.” She lets that last word hang in the air a bit. “It’s that mystery about horses that everyone’s drawn to, and that’s what I want the images to reflect, because I feel the same way,” she says.
That “mystery,” at least for her, is the unspoken connection horses have with one another. “Horses make us feel emotional,” Buyce says. “My goal—and I always shoot with my heart—is to evoke emotion.” The first time I looked at Buyce’s work, I got chills. Seriously. I’m pretty sure the next 100 times I do, I’ll feel the same way. That’s the power of great horse photography. I’m sure you’ll agree. Take a look ten of her incredible photographs in the gallery above.