Capturing the Horse’s Spirit
“The air of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears.” – Arabian proverb
Horses are sentient beings, and in order to capture their spirit, you must earn their trust. For photographer Lincoln Pilcher the time spent with horses to understand their individual natures is as important as choosing the moment to snap their image. His resulting photographs reveal a bit of their soul.
“You learn the ease of being in the horse’s space,” says Pilcher. “I take time to get them familiar with the equipment and also what’s around them. I can set up a 60-foot black backdrop and all of the sudden the wind may blow it and that might spook them.” Pilcher’s equine subjects run the gamut from a beloved show horse to abused animals who have experienced the worst part of humans. It is their raw animal spirit which makes his images so powerful.
Pilcher was immersed in photography since his childhood. His mother was Editor of Australian Vogue and he was exposed to a community of creative people in fashion, design, art and photography, honing his eye since an early age. He has been both in front of and behind the camera and incorporates lifestyle into his brands. He is the restaurateur behind some of the coolest spots like Ruby in Nolita, Eveleigh in Los Angeles and Moby’s in East Hampton.
Pilcher is not one to shy away from a risk. “Sometimes the crazier horses give me the best imagery,” says Pilcher, “There was one stallion with me and my two assistants in the ring. I was lying in the middle on my back and this former racehorse could have run me over at any point. But I also like a fiery horse to take pictures of.”
He is careful not to say that he “shoots” horses. It is his love for these amazing majestic creatures that fuels his artistic passion, often donating his prints as a means to raise money for their rescue or care. His images of the White Shire horses in a field in East Hampton helped fund a home for them at the Connecticut Draft Horse Rescue. He also has worked with ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption which helps abandoned racehorses as well as the animal rights organization Finn2Finn Alliance and recently CTREE, the Center For Therapeutic Riding on The East End which is a valued equine therapy resource for special needs children based at Wölffer Estate Stables.
Pilcher admits to a horse whisperer secret – an app called Horse Sounds. “I corral whichever horse and set up the backdrop and Sonos speakers. My assistant will hit the app and my phone starts neighing,” he says with a laugh.
The next venture is setting up a studio at an equestrian center in Old Salem for purely artistic reasons to photograph the horse’s anatomy, creatively capturing different angles and perspectives. “It’s a specific vision and shape and contrast I’m looking for,” says Pilcher, “I will have both a large format film still aspect (6” x 6”) for amazing detail but also video to capture the motion.”
What’s on his equine photography bucket list? “I love group horses and would love to photograph some of the wild mustangs out West. It’s good to document them while they are still there.”
Pilcher is finding an audience not only in individual collectors but also interior designers and stagers who find his photographs capture that little bit of horse heaven and bring it into their homes.