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How to Shoot Horse Racing with Kay Maguire

  • 3 min read

Kay Maguireis a photographer living in Westmeath Ireland who captures the landscape and beauty of the country and its inhabitants. Kay's speciality is equestrian photography, and she recently she took a Sweet 50 Optic to the Laytown Strand Races in County Meath on Ireland's eastern coast.2014-09-22_0004-1024x686

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Where did your interest in horses first start?

I've always loved horses for as long as I can remember. My dad has a great interest in horses and horse racing and has worked with them for many years. He'd always bring me to see the horses, and going to the races was a regular family outing. I always enjoyed the parade ring in particular, admiring their beauty and strength.

What's the most beautiful thing to your eye about horses?

I don't think I can just say one thing, there are so many beautiful things about horses. Their wispy chin hair, their soulful eyes, their graceful but powerful moves. Their shiny glossy hair. The way their eyes peek out under their mane.


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When did you become a photographer?

The interest was always there. We always had a camera at home and I loved looking at our photo albums. My mother took lots of photos when I was young. I took my first photo when I was four and got my first SLR (second hand) when I was 15. Film was so expensive though, it made it difficult to experiment and learn so there was a huge gap in my twenties where I didn't take any photos.

Then in 2008, I felt I really wanted to start taking photos again to record moments and create memories. A friend encouraged me to buy a DSLR, and after a full year of research I finally bought a Canon 400D. From there on I brought that camera everywhere with me, learning and making opportunities to use it. I was obsessed and knew I had finally found my passion. I have upgraded my camera and lens since then but would say to anyone starting out, buy a camera (it doesn't matter what kind) and take it everywhere with you, live it and breath it it's the only to master it!

Where did you find out about Lensbaby lenses?

I was first introduced to Lensbaby on Flickr and I just loved the look of the photos. In 2012 I bought a second hand Composer from a photographer friend on a trip to Venice. So it was in Venice that I took my first Lensbaby photos - that was pretty amazing.

What are your favorite subjects to shoot with a Lensbaby?

Horses of course, and people. I love portraits using the Lensbaby, it just gives such a lovely mix to the regular shots, so it's always nice to add a few Lensbaby shots for something different. The response is always positive.

The Laytown equestrian races are the only official race run on a beach. These races have been going on for over 140 years, with thousands showing up annually. Tell us a bit about the experience of photographing this kind of event.


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I find the beach races really take you back to the beginning of horse racing, where horses and people came together to see who was the best.


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There is the mix of the regular races, with the stands and bookies, but down on the beach you have something completely different; open space, no barriers in places, you can really see the speed as the sand flies up in the air and you feel the wind as they pass.It feels more natural as you are close to the action and you can see the strength and power of those horses as their hooves dig into the sand.


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As a talented photographer shooting creatures of all shapes and sizes, can you share one thing you're always mindful of when shooting?

Have a vision in your mind of the image/s you want to take, and make that vision happen, whether that's in camera or using post-processing.

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