Stacey Van Berkel Photography’s dreamy equine fashion shoot with talent Cheryl Bell and Brèagha Brontë.Read More
Aiken, South Carolina, is a special place full of horsey culture. I went down to visit my friend Erin at Newbridge Polo where her beautiful horse Fleur was training for the winter months. How I loved to see the polo ponies going out for their daily walks and watching Julie Clark of Clark Eventing training and showing with Fleur. We had the opportunity to do a few portraits of Erin with her gorgeous mare for her editor’s photo for Style at Home magazine – I just love the friendship they have. And of course, Simon had his little photo session too. After an afternoon of exploring the charming town of Aiken, it was time to go to the iconic southern hotel, the Willcox, for a cocktail & reminisce about our idyllic day.
As some of you may have noticed, I bought my first horse! She is a Percheron/Thoroughbred cross and she came into my life just a month ago. I have longed for a horse since the day I was born so this is a big moment in my life. We are just starting to get to know each other and I have fallen in love already. Brontë is sweet tempered and so pretty. She is like a fairytale horse which suits me very well.
The big moment job of naming my first horse left her nameless for a couple of weeks. I did agonize over what to call her but in the end I chose a name that meant something to me and spoke of my heritage and love of 19th century British novels. Bréagha (Bree-uh) Brontë – Beautiful Brontë. The Gaelic for my Scottish heritage and of course Brontë for one of my favorite writers, Charlotte Brontë.
I have had very little time to spend with her because at SVB Photo we’ve been swamped with work this last month. So unfortunately I haven’t been able to photograph her much or ride her either. But the other day I drove out around dusk and these are the few shots I was able to take.
I can’t even really describe the feeling that still wells up in me so many years after photographing the Blessing of the Hounds Thanksgiving hunt in Southern Pines, NC. I still get shivers thinking about the beauty of this spectacle that has it’s roots in mediaeval times. I can still hear rhythmic beat of horses galloping off in the distance and remember seeing horses & riders emerge from the thick mist. There were a thousand cinematic moments. Truth be told, I cried as I ran through the wet fields with photo gear in tow. The beauty of the moment overwhelmed me. . .
Please understand that I am not a lover of hunting per se – but I am a fan of the equestrian sport where a scent is dragged through the fields for the hounds to follow. Remember my undergrad degree is in 19th Century British History & literature so it just make sense that I love the idea of galloping through fields dressed in a tweedy coat & jodpurs.!
As you look at these photos, I hope you can hear the call of the bugle and the pounding of hooves!
I am always thrilled to shoot for Garden & Gun magazine and when Art Director, Maggie Kennedy asked if I could shoot a lovely Carolina farmhouse I started packing my gear. Driving down the bucolic country roads, past farms and lakes, past cattle and horses, I couldn’t wait to arrive at my destination. The very talented Ken Pursley of Pursley Architecture designed this house that I secretly wish was mine.
Ken and his colleagues welcomed me and gave me the grand tour of the property. What a wonderful getaway from the busyness of live – a row adirondack chairs on the porch for sitting and reading, walls of windows to gaze at beautiful scenery, a tree swing and a lake, chickens, horses and mammoth donkeys. And all you can hear are the cicadas. . .
I think you’ll enjoy seeing a few more photos of amazing job Ken has done on this house!