Since 2015 I have added a few more travels, photographed a few more horse shows and breed inspections, made some portraits of people and their horses and picked up a really fun hobby training my dogs in the sport of scent work which is one reason why I made the decision to cut back on photographing horse shows. They learned how to find specific odors and tell me where they are. In competition as one progresses up through the levels, this can be a challenge to read my dog properly, trust my dog and most of all, have fun with them. They absolutely love it.
After wonderful experiences in Nepal, Turkey and Greece in 2014, in 2015 I spent time in Italy with my fellow photographer friends Kim Vickrey-Jones and Marie Cobb. We were based in Rome where Kim was helping to lead a university study group. Traveled north to Milan and farther North where we could see the Alps and the World Dog show, then south to Pompeii which was fascinating. It was June. It was 90 degrees and the Romans were tired of tourists. Other than that, I'd love to go back. The art, architecture and history is everywhere and overwhelming at times.
Sweeping landscapes of relatively young (geologic time) lands and few people anywhere, save the occasional invasion of a busload of Chinese tourists from time to time. I would go back in a heartbeat. I like the low population, fabulous landscapes, waterfalls, rocky formations, coastlines, awesome whale watching, wonderful little cottages to stay in along the way, snow covered mountains and Icelandic horses which you will see everywhere along with the sheep. In fact, I think I read that sheep outnumber the humans in Iceland. With our Icelandic photographer guide, we visited a number of horse farms. Horses in amazing landscapes is really fun. On the last day, a few of us booked ourselves an afternoon in the Blue Lagoon. Perfect way to end the trip. We didn't want to get out of that relaxing warm water!
In 2017 I went to Morocco with a photographic touring company called Within The Frame.
I had traveled with them before to Nepal. They do not photograph horses, but focus more on more culture and humanity. I truly don't need to photograph horses all of the time. In fact, I'd rather not, I don't ever want to get tired of them. I love learning about cultural art, history and architecture around the world. I like meeting new people and learning how to communicate with them if we have no shared spoken language. Experiencing the food of far away places is certainly a draw as well.
The laid back schedule that Within The Frame designs into their itinerary is beneficial in that one is able to spend several days in the same place allowing unhurried time to observe, absorb and gain some understanding of what I am photographing. The drive by style of many workshops, getting several locations in is not only tiring, but the images are not as studied or perhaps understood. There is no time to wait for just the right image.
I landed in Rabat where a hired car picked me up at the airport and drove me 4 hours northeast to the blue city of Chefchaouen where I met up with my travel companions. We spent some days in Chef and then south to spend a week in Fez in the old medina in a wonderful hotel called Riad Laaroussa. I highly recommend it.
We traveled south to Merzouga and rode camels into the Sahara desert to our tent camp where we spent two nights. I still prefer horses, but it was a novel experience if you ever wanted to know what riding a rail feels like. The large red dunes surrounded us with a blue-blue sky and absolute silence. Our tent accommodations were comfortable with electricity and hot water provided by solar power. The main tent provided comforts of long couches and pillows and formal dining with meals prepared by our Berber hosts. Who also serenaded us with drums around a campfire in the evening. We were definitely not in Kansas anymore. We spent midday sleeping in the shade of our tents when the early March weather got warm. Not a cloud in the sky. When we departed the desert, we headed over to the Todra Gorge, stopped at a rug merchant where a few of us were relieved of several dirhams in exchange for carpets. We had them shipped home. We spent the night in the gorge in a hotel built into the rocks. Some of the rooms were caves. Nice caves though. The next morning we headed back north over the Atlas mountains, stopping at our drivers cousin's farm for a spot of tea and back to Fez and our wonderful Riad. The next morning a car and driver took me back to Rabat where I spent a night on my own and off to the airport the next day. It was such an amazing trip that I am going again this year with horse photographer friends this time. Okay, that was too many words, but if you are interested in visiting Morocco, I highly recommend that you hire a good guide and enjoy! I met many nice Moroccans. A few that were tired of rude tourists, a few that were superstitious about having their photo taken and would not allow it. Some were reluctant until you established a bit of connection. Basically most just wanted the courtesy of being asked vs being treated by exhibits.