Magnificence in Life Captured in the Art of Equine Photography

Horses are magnificent. Whether one is writing about, taking a photo of, painting a picture of, riding, training, taking care of or merely looking at a horse – the word magnificent easily comes to mind.

Michael Johnston Equine Photography Art

Michael Johnston – Horses in Portugal

Equine magnificence is captured in the Art of Equine Photography at it focuses on artistically rendering the spirit of the horse, producing something more like a painting than a photograph. This type of work is currently on display through the month of July 2016 at Castoro Cellars Winery in Templeton, CA. I met up with the two local photographers who are sharing – and offering for sale – their passion for horses through the Art of Equine Photography.

Front with vines (1280x960)

Two Local Photographers Turn Photos of Horses in Portugal into Art

Michael Mary Johnston of Los Osos and Marissa Todd of Paso Robles, spent a few weeks in May experiencing a Photography Workshop by Tony Stromberg in the country of Portugal. Having recently been there myself, (see The Feira de Golegã – Portugal) also viewing horses, we enjoyed comparing notes of the Portuguese sights, food, people, and of course horses – most notably the Lusitano.

“It rained the whole time we were there,” they both expressed. “So our picture taking mainly took place in indoor settings producing the opportunity to shoot in low light. This resulted in many shots of light horses with dark backgrounds,” explained Michael. Marissa explained how some of the indoor arenas had sun lights on the ceiling or side windows that let in streams of light. “Tony would help us see the right timing to capture the horse in the best light.”

Marissa Todd Equine Photograhy Art

Marissa Todd – Lusitano Horse at Liberty

Baroque Art – described by Encyclopedia Britannica as: stylistically complex, even contradictory. In general, however, the desire to evoke emotional states by appealing to the senses, often in dramatic ways, underlies its manifestations. Some of the qualities most frequently associated with the Baroque are grandeur, sensuous richness, drama, vitality, movement, tension, emotional exuberance, and a tendency to blur distinctions between the various arts – is the style of these photographs.

Shooting Photos of Horses at Liberty

The favorite setting for both photographers is when horses are running or moving at liberty. “This is where the natural personality of the horse comes out,” expressed Marissa. “Yes, a horse at liberty is much more dynamic,” echoed Michael. In Portugal the horses were turned out one-by-one into covered, enclosed arenas where seemingly centuries of riders have trained Lusitano horses.

Michael herd gallery (1280x835)

Michael Johnston – Horses at Liberty – Colorado

Michael has also experienced a photography shoot in Colorado where cowboys were moving a whole herd of horses. “We rode alongside in pick-up trucks. The cowboys drove the horses on and kept the herd surrounded to keep them contained. Once a white horse broke out from the herd and others followed. A few cowboys ran after these loose horses at break-neck speed to catch them. It was quite thrilling to see.” Some of Michael’s shots from the Colorado shoot are part of the display at Castoro Cellars.

Castoro Cellars Well-Suited to Display Art

Art Gallery Sign (1280x960)

Castoro Cellars in Templeton is a perfect place for these magnificent pieces to be on display. In addition to a beautiful outside garden patio and tasting room there is a special Event Gallery that is well-suited for displaying art. This is where you will find these beautiful art pieces decorating the walls through July 31, 2016. Enjoy a sample of Castoro Cellars award winning wines including: Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay and many others while taking in the artwork by two San Luis Obispo County Equine Photographers.

Up the arbor (1280x960)

To see more of each artists’ work catch it on the walls at Castoro Cellars by July 31, 2016. To see even more, or book a photo shoot you can contact each through e-mail:

Michael Mary Johnston:

Marissa Todd:

Horse Cover Art : Marissa Todd

All Story Photos: Sharon Jantzen














Former Pony Clubber, Eventer and Dressage rider who balanced training and showing with getting a college degree (from Cal Poly SLO), becoming a wife and raising a family.

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