By Kathy Russell, Photos by Kathy Russell Photography
During her early childhood in Canada, Kathy Russell did everything but ride horses. Little did she know that attending a friend’s 11-year-old birthday party would change the course of her life. Kathy has always had a passion for animals but it wasn’t until this friend’s birthday party that she was introduced to the magnificent animal known as a horse. As soon as she hopped in that saddle she was hooked.
From that moment forward, Kathy devoted her life to horses. She spent every weekend at her friend’s home learning how to ride.
“I was passionate about horses but didn’t necessarily have the financial backing for the sport,” said Kathy. “Thankfully I was provided the opportunity to be a working student for Mary and John Skey.”
No task was too small at this barn. When she wasn’t braiding a horse, riding or doing barn work, Kathy was intrigued by photography and would pick up her disposable camera to capture what was going on around her.
Once accepted into University, her braiding skills took her to Lake Placid and down to Florida. The large horse shows were fascinating to her. “As I was putting myself through University, I became curious of how I could take my passion for horses and combine it with my interest in photography,” Kathy elaborated.
Once Kathy completed her degree, she decided to continue her education by attending photojournalism school in Canada. It was there she found a way to blend her two passions.
“The beauty of a photojournalism program is that you are highly encouraged to specialize or define a niche idea or market as a photographer,” said Kathy. With that, her equestrian photography career began.
Kathy joined a team where she travelled to competitions throughout the United States photographing horses and their riders. Recently Kathy ventured out on her own to create a top quality photographic story that is meaningful to each individual rider at an attainable and affordable rate.
“It doesn’t matter if you have a little bit of money or a lot of money, everyone still loves their horses just the same so there is a way to deliver a product tailored to what each person can afford,” said Kathy.
A part of the job is being able to know your subject and their personalities as well as their relationship with their horse. “I try to get to know my clients and understand the bond they have with their horse. My goal is to convey that bond in the photos,” said Kathy. “I pull from the photos to create a story that is unique to each horse and rider. I want you to be able to look back at this photographic novel 20 years later when your horse is retired, and have the memories and connection be brought back to life.”
Kathy’s favorite part of the way she photographs is how she captures emotion. “Whether I am shooting someone who is having the best day in the ring, a tender moment with their horse or a sad moment, I feel as if I am living vicariously through that experience and seeing it through my lens,” explained Kathy. “Being able to give that to someone and know what a keepsake it is, is an incredible feeling.”