Many of the riders, owners and trainers who come to Wellington for the season will experience the excitement and paparazzi that goes along with equestrian competition at this world class level. However, one particular photographer stands out as being different from the rest. Carmen “Queca” Franco is an accomplished equestrian and judge herself, yet she has another passion and talent that she brings to the shows — taking pictures of all the beautiful horses and capturing spectacular moments of the season.
“I love photography, and so four years ago I took my camera out, and I started shooting pictures at the Palm Beach Derby,” Franco recalled. “We also created a public Facebook page about the Palm Beach Derby and started publishing pictures of things like what happened in the jog, who was in the bleachers, who was competing and who wasn’t. We had a lot of followers and people commenting about the history of the derby. It became a tradition for me to do this at the derby, but at the same time, I had my own training business and horses to show myself. So, I would take my camera to the shows and take pictures here and there or take pictures at other events, such as clinics.”
This grew into something much more.
“There is an artistic part of the moment of the picture that I love to find. I focus on the people, on the horses, or the weather conditions — just trying to translate to everybody what was really happening, and to bring the emotion or the feel of it all,” she said.
Franco explained that photography is a wonderful hobby that complements her horse training business.
“There are many times I take pictures of horses because I know what is good and what is bad riding-wise, and that’s what I love to capture, but it’s really just a hobby. My life is working horses,” she said. “I ride and train and have my whole business around that. I believe if my photography were to become a business, it would take a little bit of that magic out of it. I love being able to take a picture when I want to — not when I have to.”
Before her career in horses, Franco graduated as an architect from the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. She feels this has helped support her love of photography. “I like the aesthetics part of it,” she said. “As an architect, I feel it’s in my soul.”
In 2019, Franco was honored to receive a first-place award for her photo, “Sunshine State Dressage” in the United States Dressage Federation Arts Contest.
“It was very rewarding to hear that I was recognized with the award,” she said. “It was a beautiful sunset, and the whole team was practicing. I kept thinking, ‘There should be a good picture here.’ Then, I knew the moment I took it that it was a nice picture.”
Franco was also thrilled to learn that another one of her photos was selected by Semican, a well-respected equine feed company, to be used on the Alfalfa Pellets product bag. The company was looking for a beautiful horse to grace the product and felt that Franco captured the perfect shot.
And while Franco’s camera may capture some very different shots as equestrians adjust to a new norm with social distancing and mandatory masks in public, one thing is for certain — she will still be capturing the beauty of horses interacting with people and share it through her photos.
Although she loves photography as a hobby, Franco said her true professional purpose is as a rider, trainer and judge, and owner of her dressage business, Q-Equestrian. Franco is available to travel for lessons, clinics and training of horses, and she accepts all levels of riders and horses. Her base location is May Faire Oaks Farm in White Fences. For more information, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.q-equestrian.com.