For 33 years, well-known fine art photographer Barbara Sloan has combined her love of photography and horses. Sloan will be featuring her impressive equestrian-themed photography at Frames America in Wellington on Wednesday, March 28 from 7 to 9 p.m.
Sloan has had a love for horses from a young age. “I began riding horses when I was 6 years old on my family’s ranch back in Texas,” she recalled.
While studying photography in France, Sloan met well-known photographer Elliott Erwitt. He noticed she had an eye for the art of photography and encouraged her to go into it professionally. Erwitt got Sloan set up with his agent Barbara Fine in New York City. “Barbara took me under her wing and got me started in Manhattan,” Sloan said.
One of Sloan’s first clients was Andy Warhol. “I started off doing portraits for his interview magazine,” she said. “Then I branched off into doing fashion photography.”
After doing a lot of fashion, advertising and editorial photography in New York City, Sloan moved to Europe. “The fashion scene changed in New York, and the European designers became more important,” Sloan explained.
She would travel to countries such as Italy, where she would do fashion photography for top designers such as Armani and Versace. While living in Europe, Sloan received devastating news. “My mother developed cancer, so I had to move back to Texas and take care of her,” she said.
Back at her family’s ranch in Huntsville, Sloan began photographing the best thing she could find — the horses. “So I got some breeding stock, and bred my own horses, which I trained and ran in Texas and a little bit out of the state,” Sloan said.
When photographing a horse, Sloan likes to focus on the most intimate parts, she said as she pointed to a photo of a horse’s rump. “Most people say, ‘Well, why are you photographing a horse’s back?’” she said. “Well that’s the engine, and that’s what operates and gives power to the horse. And if you’re a real horse person, that’s one of the first things you look at on a horse.”
Sloan enjoys capturing specific expressions unique to that horse. “I focus in on their face or something that is unusual about the horse, like the Friesians with their interesting hairy little fetlocks and ankles,” she said.
Sloan uses real film when she photographs horses. “I do these prints myself in my darkroom in Texas,” she said. “After I do the prints, I use an ancient technique of organically staining them, so they have this golden copper look.”
Many people are intrigued by Sloan’s old camera. “Anytime I’m out at a show taking photos of horses, people come up to me and say, ‘Oh my God, is that a real old Nikon and real film?’” Sloan smiled.
For Sloan, using real film to capture horses is what makes it artwork. “To me, this is the real fine art photography,” she said. “The artist is actually handling it and creating the print instead of a machine doing it.”
While in Huntsville, where a Texas correctional facility has one of the most active death rows in the United States, Sloan was given another interesting opportunity for photography. “I was approached by the Huntsville Art Commission to do an exhibit for their museum, on families whose loved ones were murder victims or were the family of the offender being executed,” Sloan recalled. “It was a pretty heavy-duty project, and I worked on that for five years.”
Twenty pieces of Sloan’s artwork will be showcased along the walls at Frames America. The March 28 event will be open to the public; refreshments will be served. “We will also have books of loose print where people can choose to have the prints custom-framed at the print shop,” Sloan said.
Frames America is located at 9308 Forest Hill Blvd., Wellington, in Kobosko’s Crossing. For more information, call (561) 790-1777.