An Equine photoshoot with Mary-Clare in Ireland

3 months into my new venture of 'giving up my corporate career in Human Resources in the construction industry to pursue an idea I had in 2020 of becoming a full time Equine photographer', I find myself being commissioned by the most welcoming client in Co. Tipperary, Ireland. Had you told me a year ago that my reality would be making a special trip from Essex to Cork, I'd have laughed you all the way into next week. But as luck would have it (I don't believe in luck)... here I am writing a blog post all about my trip to visit the wonderful Mary-Clare and her family!

How it started

It started with an enquiry. 'Do you ever visit Ireland?'. For some reason, I felt embarrassed to say no! I had been to Northern Ireland once prior for a holiday and swore we'd go back to Ireland but to the South one day because it was just so beautiful. But I didn't have any plans to visit any time soon. 'Would you consider it for a photoshoot?' The answer was a big fat YES. (I try to live by a motto of if it's not a 'Hell Yes', then it's a 'Hell No' but this opportunity most definitely fell into the 'hell yes' category!). I was delighted that Mary-Clare had considered me to come all the way from London. Social media is blooming brilliant.

Mary-Clare had mentioned that she'd admired my work for some time so thought it would be worth an ask, but admitted she thought her invite from across the Irish Sea may not come to fruition. She was mistaken! Mary-Clare mentioned that she'd lost her wonderful horse Red earlier in the year, and in the year prior to that she lost her most special boy, Blue at the grand age of 28. Her biggest regret was not having special photographs of either of them. The kind of heartbreak we will all sadly encounter at some point in some way if we are fortunate to have a special horse in our life. But in memory of both boys, she was inspired to get on and book the experience for herself. I can't tell you how glad I am that she did!

We had a few conversations about logistics, I weighed up whether I'd take the car and all my frames and jump on the ferry (12 hour trip door to door approx), or whether I'd travel slightly lighter and hop on the plane over to Cork and hire a car. I went for the second option as I'm a far better flier than I am getting on boats. That being said, I had never actually flown alone before! Always with family, friends or parter, so that was a new experience in itself.

Mary-Clare and Nicholas kindly offered to put me up for the night to make things simpler. They have the most amazing home - not just for the dogs and horses, but for people too so I was honoured to be welcomed so warmly. I had a lovely room and bathroom overlooking their beautiful 1800s-built stone stables (obviously the best sight for anybody mad about horses) and we ate a delicious pizza for dinner with a glass of red wine in front of the log burner. We put the world to rights whilst Hamish the KC Spaniel made himself right at home on my lap in the armchair and Clancy the young Red Setter did the same sprawled on Mary-Clare.

The shoot day

In the morning after having a bit of breakfast, we went to fetch the horses in from the field. Personally I think it's really important to have an equine photographer who has first hand experience of handling horses properly - from a safety perspective and also to help things feel even more relaxed. I can help manage expectations appropriately too knowing how big but delicate, and sometimes spooky these creatures can be. We looked around their land, plotted how we'd incorporate both Mary-Clare's husband and dogs into the mix and which outfits would be used where. Whilst Mary-Clare groomed and tidied the horses up, I went inside to make us both a cup of tea and to sit down with my notebook to write up 'the photoshoot plan'. I do this on most shoots. It ensures I don't forget an idea I've had, keeps the shoot moving along to time and keeps us focused.

The shoot went so well - the horses were so well behaved especially considering we had two potentially quite big distractions. The first being the diggers working on the other side of the driveway wall, and the second being the morning lots of race horses hacking up the lane past the house making their way to and from the gallops.

We photographed two of Mary-Clare's horses. Jack and Jazz. Jack, a bay TB ex-racer and a gentle giant! I'm fairly tall and he towered over me at over 17hh! Jazz was also big around 16.3hh mark and definitely my kind of mare! Piebald for starters - and an ISH. Not a narrow-framed ISH though, still very elegant but one that showcases the best characteristics of the draught, as she was just that bit broader than Jack the TB. The sort that probably would make you feel quite safe.

We were utterly spoilt for choice of beautiful locations and backdrops - I always say I can find spots on every yard even ones that may not be traditionally 'beautiful', but truly I felt SPOILT on Mary-Clare's shoot. I practically squealed the whole time.


I flew home and set to work editing. I grinned a lot. I cannot wait to share more of these images on my instagram feed.

Conveniently Mary-Clare was due to be visiting London and so we tied in a date to do the viewing for then. I found a beautiful little boutique luxury hotel near Liverpool Street (I am an absolute hotel nerd, so this task filled me with excitement!) and Jodie, the lovely Events Manager there booked me a lovely little cosy spot in their gorgeous library where we could have tea and coffee, and a bite to eat whilst Mary-Clare viewed her gallery for the first ever time.

Doing the shoot is of course great fun, but the best bit of the whole photoshoot experience is the viewing (in my opinion). I'll never get tired of how proud it makes me feel to be able to harness the feeling horse-owners have about their horses and to translate it into something tangible. Seeing their smiles and glittery-with-tears eyes each time just will NEVER get old and I am HERE for it. Mary-Clare was delighted with the results, and I can't wait to see her images hung in her beautiful home for everybody to see every day!

To finish...

I said earlier I don't really believe in luck, and what I mean is that I believe you create your own luck with hard work. Whilst I felt and have continued to feel incredibly lucky to work with people as wonderful and sparkly as Mary-Clare, I believe each client finds me for a reason. It's never by chance that our paths cross and I still say every single shoot teaches me something about myself as a person and I am so grateful.

A huge thank you to Mary-Clare for having me and trusting me. It's such an honour to be given a glimpse into somebody else's life in this way, and especially to be invited into their home. I'd like to thank Mary-Clare's brilliant friend, Natalya for her help on the day of the shoot! It's so important to have a pair of hands around who you trust, who the horses are comfortable with and who can help make the day extra special. Natalya most definitely fulfilled her role helping the morning to run smoothly.

Photos from the shoot below

If they make you want to experience the magical and special feeling for yourself (I promise it's way less scary than you'd believe!) then please do get in touch below...

For information about booking your own equine photoshoot...

Hello, my name is Holly...

Welcome to my blog

I am an equine photographer based in Essex, England. I've owned and ridden horses always, and I've never known a life without them! I've started this little blog for my many ramblings. I've always liked to write, but never previously had an outlet for it - and now I do! I write about all things equine photography, horses and dogs so if you like any of those things, you're in the right place! If I can help you with a photoshoot then do let me know! x

My Equine Shoots