Above: Elizabeth Hay, Photo by Ballesteros Photography
Elizabeth Hay was introduced to photography through direct contact, with her city and her family members.
“I grew up in San Francisco so I feel like I have always been surrounded by art in some form or another,” she said. “When I was 18 my aunt let me borrow her Canon film camera for my first trip to Europe, I think I was hooked after that.”
She purchased her first camera when she returned, and went to test it out at the English lesson barn where she rode.
“Since it was film, I took a notebook with me and wrote down all my settings for each frame I used,” she said. “When I got the film developed, I compared the images with my notes to see where I could improve.”
Her passion for learning earned her a place at California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo. Note here
“I have a B.S. in Animal Science and a concentration in Equine Production,” she said.
While pursuing her education, she also took part in many equestrian activities on campus, including the Quarter Horse Enterprise. However, Elizabeth didn’t become a horse owner herself until following her graduation.
“I currently own a 4 year old filly that I bred and raised myself, and she is such a special little horse. My filly’s name is “Stella” and she is the sweetest, most hard-working horse you’ll ever meet! She’s got so much “try” and really likes being around people,” she said. “She is truly such a wonderful horse to be around. I consider myself a “mare person” and have been incredibly lucky to have had some truly amazing mares in my life.”
It was also around this time that Elizabeth picked up a camera again.
“I picked up a digital camera on Craigslist and just started messing around with it for personal use, always practicing on horses and the occasional willing friend,” she said. “I upgraded camera bodies when I felt I had outgrown that and photography just sort of started snowballing from “hobby” into a creative outlet and now into a side-business.”
The meaning behind her passion comes from an experience that she had during her own equine photoshoot.
“I had some photos taken of me and my horse at the time a few years back from a very talented wedding photographer. The pictures were beautiful but I realized that the relationship between me and my horse wasn’t really apparent,” she said. “I started to think that if I wanted pictures of me and my horse, there had to be other people that wanted the same thing.”
“In order to do those stories justice, I figured it simply had to be a “horse person” behind the camera. Someone that understood the bond, the importance of it and the depth of that bond between someone and their horse.”
This bond creates a sense of nostalgia for Elizabeth, who could never pick a favorite from all of her shoots.
“I honestly feel like going to someone’s barn, ranch or boarding facility is like being 8 years old all over again and hanging out at the barn with friends and their horses,” she said. “There’s so much childhood nostalgia for me when I get to do that and I really and truly love getting to know people by hearing them talk about their horses.”
“It helps me stay really connected to my “why” and just solidifies that I love what I am doing. So to answer your question, every single shoot I have the opportunity to do is my favorite!”