Tuesday, February 11, 2014
They say never work with children or animals.
But when the five-year-old in question happens to be Frankel, the greatest racehorse ever to have lived and one valued at more than £100m, what they say goes out of the window.
Special edition prints of Norwich photographer Mark Harvey’s portrait of the thoroughbred – the first ever commissioned – will go on sale today to mark the horse’s sixth birthday.
In those six years Frankel has firmly secured his place in horse racing history, having retired unbeaten from 14 races and registered a string of famous wins.
Mr Harvey, 34, said he hoped he had captured Frankel’s dominant presence and imposing physicality in the portrait commissioned by Juddmonte Farms, the racing and breeding operation which runs the Banstead Manor Stud in Newmarket.
“I wanted to show him off as the champion that he is,” he said.
“There’s a special something about Frankel, when you are around him.
“It’s something I’ve never experienced with any other horse. He is super-special and I think he knows it.”
Having worked with Banstead Manor Stud before, Mr Harvey said he was given creative freedom for the shoot and had a clear idea of what he was looking for.
“The choice of angle I photographed him from is very important,” he said.
“It shows the status that he has, in the same way that painters hundreds of years ago would have done with kings.”
The portrait was the product of several visits to the stud last summer to get to know Frankel, and put the horse at his ease – though Mr Harvey admitted experiencing nerves himself at photographing a subject conservatively valued at £100m.
“You have to push through that and keep your composure, to make sure you photograph them at their best,” he said.
“Sometimes you feel like you are an athlete in competition, or someone going on stage – it gives you that slight edge and you get into the zone.”
Brought up in a Leicestershire village “with more horses than people”, Mr Harvey moved to Norwich to study ecology at the University of East Anglia. When he graduated in 2003 he turned to photography and gradually developed a speciality in photographing horses, and now lives with his partner Tanith Wilson, also a photographer, to the north of the city.
He said the key to successfully photographing horses was building a relationship of trust with the animal.
“Your body language is probably the most important thing. You need to keep them relaxed and make sure that they trust you, so you have to watch how you move around them and approach them.
“I never walk straight towards a horse, as it’s too confrontational. I walk in zig-zags towards them.”
Mr Harvey said pre-orders for the prints were already arriving, and he was confident of selling the 350 limited edition prints quickly.
He said: “I think I’ve managed to capture his presence and his personality.
“I’m really pleased with the picture. I feel like we’ve got it, and I don’t think I could better that picture.”
• The prints will be released today at www.mark-harvey.com/ Limited edition prints range from 24ins x 16ins prints from £280 to 60ins x 40ins from £1,100. Open edition 15ins x 10ins prints cost £85.