When you’ve signed up for a photo workshop with Cécile Domens from Stages Photo en Camargue, you know you’re in for some action. As a keen horse rider herself, Cécile decided to combine her love of horses, adventure and the South of France and started organising photo workshops with semi-wild Camargue horses. Photographers of all levels are welcome, so that’s how I found myself eye to eye with a herd of galloping horses.
At our meeting-point in Aigues-Mortes, the evening started with Cécile explaining to us how to set our cameras to the right mode. After our cameras were set, our group of nine photographers drove off to the middle of the Camargue. This is the natural habitat of the typical Camargue horses, who are one of the oldest breeds of horses in the world! In this part of the South of France, these horses are actually still part of everyday life. As we had signed up for a photo workshop at sunset, we waited for the horses to arrive at eight o’clock on the dot. And there they were: a herd of beautiful white horses and foals led by three French cowboys, the so-called ‘gardians’.
We started slowly, so everybody had enough time to check that their cameras were in the right mode. By this time, the golden hour had begun, and the light reflected warmly on the trotting horses. I had brought along my good old-fashioned Canon D60 and my newest addition the Canon M50 (for those interested). As we were in the middle of nature, mosquitos ate us alive, despite the repellent. However, I hardly noticed it as I was too preoccupied in trying to get my cameras to do what I wanted them to do.
Our next location was an open space of sand covered by salt and red and green bushes. We could see that we were close to the saltmarshes of Aigues-Mortes. As a backdrop for the white horses, it created a beautiful contrast. And just before sunset, we went to the last location of the day: the wetlands. Cécile asked us to wear wellies, and this was the moment when we needed them! Armed with our cameras, all ten of us stood lined up, ready for the galloping horses to come towards us. It all went so quickly, and all of us clicked away. It was not easy to get a sharp picture with all the fast-moving animals!
After a few impressive galloping sessions, it had become too dark to take good pictures. The gardians went back to their manades, leaving the semi-wild horses behind. Cécile is the woman to run these photo workshops, as a gardiane herself she knows the particular world of the Camargue inside out. We were treated to a colourful sunset before we headed home as well. What a fantastic experience to be so close to these majestic animals!