Love horses and love photography? As a country PR company, we definitely do! We spoke to the fabulous US based photographer Heidi Niemala who has managed to combine her passion with both, to forge a hugely successful career path, photographing models (horse and human) in her stunning fashion shoots. The creative MirrorMePR Team here are big fans of Heidi’s work and relished the opportunity to talk ponies and photography with Heidi, as any country PR company would.
MMPR: You have a unique ability to capture both the horses and models perfectly in your fashion work. Had you photographed horses before you went into fashion?
HN: “I wish! I’ve only been photographing horses for two years, after about 20 in fashion. But I’ve loved them my whole life; I feel connected to them. I grew up in Virginia and I’ve ridden since I was very young. Being around barns and horses and in these settings, and being able to use my experience to capture these moments, is a gift.”
MMPR: What is the most challenging thing about working with horses?
HN: “The best horses, like the best models, are divas. Thoroughbreds can be hot, ponies are sassy – you never know what you are going to get.”
“Add the fact that you have to be much more careful with equipment, and it can be a real challenge. You don’t know if you can use strobes or certain types of lighting because it could scare them. You have to let them take the lead. It’s a risk in some ways, but the payoff is that I get to capture them in all their depth and unexpected beauty. And it works both ways: I recently photographed rescued Mustangs who were trained for dressage. They were so calm that they actually fell asleep on set.”
MMPR: What is the best thing about working with horses?
HN: “With every shoot, I learn more about the different riding disciplines and about the horses. It gives me so much energy and excitement. Even being in barns and around them makes me happy. A bad day at a stable is better than a good day anywhere else.”
MMPR: Do you ride/own horses yourself?
HN: “I ride, but not seriously. Right now, I need to travel for work, but I have a fantasy of moving back to Virginia and owning horses one day. Meanwhile, I enjoy every moment I spend with them.”
MMPR: Talk us through a typical day away from the lens.
HN: “It’s all about boys! I’ve got two, aged 10 and 17. They both play hockey, and my youngest is playing basketball and football as well. So, I’m juggling games, school events, and homework when I’m not on set. It may not be glamorous, but it’s taught me to prioritise and schedule and keep a cool head, so my clients benefit from that.”
MMPR: What tips can you give amateur photographers wanting to pick up photographer as a professional career?
HN: “First, you have to really want it. It’s competitive and there’s always someone new coming up, which is what keeps you fresh but also challenges you. The only way to develop your eye and your style is to be obsessive. Second, don’t get caught up in the equipment. You can take great pictures with an iPhone. Just get out there and shoot.”
“Finally, and this seems counterintuitive, but don’t get attached to any particular images, no matter how good they are. You have to leave them behind.”
MMPR: Your work has a beautiful energy and the composition of your subjects always catches the eye. How would you describe your photography style?
HN: “Beyond lighting and composition and beauty, I try to capture specific moments. I want to make the viewer feel like they’ve opened a door or peeked through a window and discovered something new, something compelling. I want to evoke joy.”
MMPR: Where can we see your work?
HN: “My Instagram, @heidiniemalaphoto, has my latest work. I’ve recently been published in EQ Living and the Dover catalog, among others. For a broader retrospective, check out my website, heidiniemala.com”
As a country PR company, we love combining all things country – from photography, fashion and horses. If you want to read more from our country PR company, you’ll probably love reading 60 Seconds With Caroline Denyer Owner & Creator Of Growlees.
Western Noir for EQ Living
Aristocratic Rebel for EQ Living
Modern Contrasts – EQ Living
Credits: Photography Heidi Niemala
Sandra Ranke- contributing editor @sandraranke
David Burnett- fashion editor www.davidburnettnyc.com