With her wavy red hair, bouncy walk and ready smile, photographer Anne Gittins is hard to miss when she’s working. And while she often has the best vantage point for the grand prix because she’s in the middle of the ring with her camera, she’s not able to follow much of the action. She’s constantlywalking a path from fence to fence to capture the best images possible in the fleeting seconds each horse and rider are in the ring taking the course.
What does she love about being a professional equine photographer?
“It’s all about the horses,” she said, laughing. “I love getting a great picture of someone’s horse and then having that person get excited when they see it.”
Gittins, 33, of Wellington, Fla., didn’t set out to become a professional photographer, though. In fact, the Pittsburgh, Pa., native graduated from Mount Holyoke College (Mass.) with a degree in English and had her mind set on becoming a writer.
Horses have always been part of her life, and she chose Mount Holyoke so she could continue riding. She showed on the A-rated circuit and then on the intercollegiate team. She hoped to combine horses with her career, but she wasn’t exactly sure how to proceed after she graduated.
Then, during an editorial internship at The Chronicle of the Horse, she picked up a camera and discovered a complimentary way to portray the beauty of the horse–in words and on film (now, of course, she shoots only with digital cameras).
When she moved to Florida after her internship, she began working for Sidelines, the local equestrian newspaper, writing articles and providing photographs. At first, she said, she was lured in by the extra income submitting photographs provided. Then it became more.
“At first I had a manual camera,” she recalled. “It was all I could afford. I started taking photos and people started buying them. It was great.”
Gittins began her business, Anne Gittins Photography, in 1997 and set aside her reporter’s notebook shortly thereafter to concentrate on photography.
While her schedule changes from year to year, she primarily spends the year traveling on the East Coast and in the Midwest, driving her Dodge Durango with her horse trailer in tow. Each season she opens her booth on the Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.) circuit and shoots at the adjacent Littlewood shows, and she spends summers at the Kentucky Horse Park. She and her two Corgis, Jake and Calvin, also travel to horse shows in North Carolina and Ohio.
In between photographing other people’s horses, she can be found competing in the adult jumpers under the watchful eye of trainer Alan Korotkin. And she always hopes another photographer will be there to snap a good shot.
Gittins advised young people to keep their options open when considering career options. “It’s great to look outside the box,” she said. “Everyone wants to ride professionally, but there are so many other options out there where you can make a living in the horse world.
“You can create clothing, make signs, and even sell coffee,” she added. “If you love to be around horses, you can make it happen.”