HALF PRICE SALE Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Bob Langrish: Horse Photography

18:50 01 February 2010

This is my favourite picture over the last few years: again an Andalucian. I was aiming to get all the horses head and neck with the sun coming through the mane; but as i took the picture, he suddenly dropped his head. I missed and ended up with this pict

This is my favourite picture over the last few years: again an Andalucian. I was aiming to get all the horses head and neck with the sun coming through the mane; but as i took the picture, he suddenly dropped his head. I missed and ended up with this pict

It takes a particular talent to photograph horses well. Bob Langrish has that talent, as his 4000,000 picture library shot all over the world clearly shows. Katie Jarvis met up with him

THE BRUMBY in the photograph looks so docile, you could almost stretch out your hand and pat its chestnut muzzle. Salt-and-pepper mane ruffled by the wind, it raises its head momentarily from grazing on the stubby Australian grass: wild, sturdy and free.


You'd think, from the ease of its expression, that anyone could pick up a camera and snap such a shot. Actually, that very feeling is a testament to the skill and knowledge of the photographer, Bob Langrish.


Not heard of him? Surprisingly, not many people have outside the equestrian world. But when it comes to taking photographs of horses, he's nothing short of a legend. In fact, the filing cabinets that dominate his office in Bisley hold more than 400,000 pictures covering everything from noble Acehs in Indonesia to cute snaps with the 'Aah' factor: it's the most comprehensive library of its kind in the world.


It's thanks to the experience he's gained during more than 30 years of photographing these animals that he's able to capture moments such as the contemplative Brumby. "It's so difficult to take pictures of these Australian wild horses: you can't get close," Bob says. "They get shot at out of the sky by the government who track them in helicopters. They're culled because they're considered such a pest."


They're certainly fey creatures, which have lived in the wild for more than 150 years. No one quite knows where their name comes from: some speculate it's courtesy of a Sergeant James Brumby who abandoned his horses when he left New South Wales for Tasmania at the beginning of the 19th century. Others say their ancestors were escapees of the 1851 gold rush.


"I'm working on a book of wild horses at the moment - there are very few left in the world," Bob says. "Apart from the Brumbies of Australia, there are only really the Mustangs of America. The challenge is trying to get anywhere near. When I was working in Canada, I was charged by a stallion who thought I was after his mares. I knew I couldn't run as fast as him so I stood my ground - luckily, it worked!"


The Princess Royal herself has most unusually agreed to write a forward to that book - Wild Horses of the World - which will be published by Hamlyn later this year.


But it's far from just wild horses that Bob photographs. Of the estimated 250-plus pure breeds you can find around the world, he's taken pictures of more than 230 of them. That's involved scrambling his way around Russia's Caucasus mountains to find the lightning fast Karabakhs; being held up at machinegun-point in Turkey where guards mistakenly thought he was trying to infiltrate a nuclear submarine site; and talking his way into Indonesia where the media are usually shown the door.


Mind you, Bob's not your typical 'media' man, as many who've seen him at work will testify. Once, when he was out with the Beaufort, (long before the current ban), he found himself in the company of the Prince of Wales. "At the time, I was doing all the hunting photography for Horse and Hound, and I'd run and walk 15 miles in a day to get the pictures.


"I rounded a corner and there was Prince Charles out on point, looking for the fox. I said 'It's OK, Sir; I'm not paparazzi'. He said, 'I gathered that because I've yet never seen a Fleet Street photographer follow the hounds in running shoes!'"


You'd probably imagine Bob Langrish grew up surrounded by these animals who've formed such a part of his working life: well, you can forget that idea. The son of a police chief inspector, he spent his childhood in the urban confines of South London. While he rarely saw a horse, he knew he wanted to be a photographer from an early age: The family timeshared their bathroom with a darkroom.


After school, Bob eschewed the offer of a 'gopher' job in Fleet Street for a secure post with the police, but continued to 'moonlight' at the weekend, covering motor-sport events. When he was forced to choose between the two, it was a no-brainer. He could earn more taking photographs at the weekend than during his regular Monday-to-Friday beat.


But when he moved his young family to Gloucestershire to concentrate on taking motor-sport pictures for specialist magazines, disaster struck. Almost before the ink was dry on the mortgage form, the company he was with went into receivership.


"So my wife suggested I try switching to horses. I didn't know anything about them, but the best way of learning is by your mistakes. So I began to go round all the local Pony Club events - Beaufort, Berkeley, Ledbury - and the horse shows, selling pictures to riders.


"Parents are always going to buy pictures of their children on horseback. You just need to be able to take a photograph which is good and which shows that child or rider jumping a fence well. The most important thing is split-second timing; even using eight to 10 frames a second, you can still miss the crucial split-second of 'bascule' - when the horse's neck and back bend over a fence. That's when it looks at its most powerful.


"A good photograph is a combination of composition, timing, and knowing the fences a horse will look better over. If you've got a straight, upright fence, very narrow, the horse doesn't have time to bend. But if you have a hedge or parallel rails, they work well."


Through his contacts, Bob began working for magazines, as well as compiling books about horses. One of the first he did was with leading rider and trainer, Jenny Loriston-Clarke.


He's also covered many big sporting events. "One of my favourite moments was in Germany when the British team won the World Showjumping Championships with David Broome, Derek Ricketts, Malcolm Pyrah and the late Caroline Bradley. We all got together afterwards and did a World Championship poster. I was made to feel part of the team."


But his big break came when children's publishers Dorling Kindersley asked him to compile the Ultimate Horse Book, which involved him travelling the world seeking out different horse breeds. The journey didn't stop there. Since then, working on many different equestrian projects, he's travelled an amazing 1.4 million miles, which has taken him to almost every region on earth.


He's even just returned from Iran, where he was one of the few Europeans ever to be invited to the Aspahan Horse Festival, held in the country's second city, Isfahan. "I was treated incredibly well there. After the festival, I took a couple of internal flights to see some of the horse farms near the Caspian Sea. It was a completely different world - far more rustic. One day, I visited a village where somebody had their champion stallion tethered to the ground just outside a mud hut."


If there's a country he still longs to visit, it's Mongolia; but he's already found his favourite breeds: Arabs and Andalucians for their expressive movement and power.


He also knows where horses have it best. "Here in the UK, without a doubt," he says. "They're looked after so well."


And there's another certainty, too: that Bob himself will choose lens over saddle any day. "People who learn to ride in later life look like a sack of potatoes," he says. "I'd look like two sacks.


"When it comes to riding - no thanks! I'll stick with my camera."



For more information on Bob's work, visit www.boblangrish.com or ring him on 01452 770140.

0 comments

Shop with us at Great British Life

More from People

Yesterday, 17:00
Jeremy Irons

Katie Jarvis attends a fundraising event for the Mulberry Bush School, at Burnt Norton house near Chipping Campden. And as Jeremy Irons reads to guests from TS Eliot’s Four Quartets – in a straw boater, on a perfect day, beside an Earl-Grey lawn - the only thing missing is Aloysius

Read more
Mon, 10:57
”I couldn’t help but notice that your socks are not tennis socks,” he said, staring at my ankles as though they had a swastika tattoo on them

I once belonged to a very posh tennis club in West London. One day, someone on the ‘committee’ took me aside in the clubhouse. “I couldn’t help but notice that your socks are not tennis socks,” he said, staring at my ankles as though they had a swastika tattoo on them.

Read more
Eric Whitacre

We all know that music can change our mood, but now scientists are measuring the effect it has upon us. Grammy-winning composer and conductor Eric Whitacre explained all to Katie Jarvis ahead of his performance at the Cheltenham Music Festival.

Read more
Mon, 10:08
Bob Chilcott, one of the world's premiere composer and choral conductors

Bob Chilcott, described by the Observer as “a contemporary hero of British Choral Music”, has plenty to celebrate in his 60th birthday year – including a première at this month’s Three Choirs Festival. Katie Jarvis spoke to him at his West Oxfordshire home.

Read more
Friday, July 24, 2015
WOMAD

Wondering what to do this weekend in and around the Cotswolds? Here are five suggestions from us to you...

Read more
Friday, July 24, 2015
Katharine Loyd

Katharine Loyd knows a thing or two about farming and what makes a good agricultural show. It’s all about balance, she says…

Read more
Thursday, July 23, 2015
A reporter talks to the greasers and the mods of Cheltenham in 1965 | Image: BFI

The BFI has launched Britain on Film, a new project that reveals hidden histories and forgotten stories of people and places from the key film and TV archives of the UK, including around the Cotswold area. We’ve compiled the best videos that provide an entertaining and insightful glimpse into the past of this beautiful region of England.

Read more
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
'You may well think that Twitter is just full of people talking about what they had for breakfast, but you couldn't be more wrong'

Need a restaurant recommendation or help with a crashed computer? Social media means that there’s always someone awake and willing to help. Emma Samms explains why Twitter is one part of the digital revolution she’s embraced...

Read more
Friday, July 17, 2015
Adam Henson meets Joan Bomford / Photo: Countryfile (BBC)

Adam Henson meets 83-year-old Joan Bomford, a worthy winner of the Farming Hero award

Read more
Monday, July 13, 2015
Lulu

Despite fame and fortune, Lulu has spent much of her life trying to be Miss Perfect - but never feeling good enough, she tells Katie Jarvis. It’s no accident that, finally comfortable in her own skin, she’s producing her best work ever.

Read more
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Meurig Bowen

The Cheltenham Music Festival, though having classical music at its heart, is studded with diverse treats – encompassing film, dance, jazz, world music and family events amidst the rich mix of orchestral, choral and chamber concerts. Festival director Meurig Bowen picks out his top ten programme highlights.

Read more
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
BBQ for Heroes raises funds for Help For Heroes, which provides injured service personnel with ongoing support

Help for Heroes is asking the great British public to turn their BBQ’s in to an opportunity to fundraise for our wounded, injured and sick service personnel, veterans and their families.

Read more
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Lucy Parham

The Bath-based National Osteoporosis Society is delighted to announce that it will be bringing three talented artists to Bradford-on-Avon on July 11, 2015. And, there is a special opportunity for only 50 guests to join the cast for a post-performance drinks and canapé reception.

Read more
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Lisa Maxwell

Actress and television presenter Lisa Maxwell loves her home near Edge and is working to provide equally secure accommodation for abandoned cats and dogs. She tells Katie Jarvis about her Cotswold life

Read more

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP




subscription ad
subscription ad
Cotswold's trusted business finder