"Never work with children or animals" is a phrase much quoted in all forms of creative media, and did cross my mind when discussing the idea of photographing my friend's daughter on her pony.
In the depths of winter early last year, fellow Galloway Photographic Collective member, Allan Wright, and I were discussing the shift in direction of my photography from intense head shots to narrative-driven, staged images, and Daisy the pony had found her way into our conversation.
When Allan talked to his daughter, Amber, about it, she suggested the idea of riding bareback in a white dress - something for when the weather turned a bit warmer - and dryer. We then explored the woods near his house and Allan pointed out they would be carpeted in bluebells a couple of months hence.
A bonnie lass on a pony in a bluebell wood, with a low evening sun spilling through the fresh green leaves of the trees - what's not to love?
Arrangements were made.
Well, only loosely. In Scotland, the weather is not to be relied on.
The sun came out late in the afternoon just as the bluebells were beginning to show. I phoned Allan, but it was too short a notice.
A week later conditions were ideal, but Amber had other arrangements she didn't want to cancel.
The following Tuesday the weather was perfect, and it looked like it was going to be the only day of the week where the sun was going to be out. Except that Amber had exams on Wednesday, was stressed out about them, and was completely committed to revising.
My hopes faded. I was gearing up for Dumfries and Galloway's Open Studio event, Spring Fling, so if I didn't get the shot soon, then it would be a couple of weeks before we could attempt it again, by which time the bluebells would have gone and the leaves on the trees would be darker and thicker. It wouldn't be the same.
Allan said he thought the sun would return later in the week, even though the BBC weather site predicted rain. However, it turned out Allan was right. Decades of photographing a wide array of landscapes seems to have given him a more highly attuned sense of weather patterns, and 3 days later we were able to do the photo shoot after all.
The light was beautiful. I used the sun as a backlight and had Allan standing off to one side with a reflector to bounce it back to fill in the shadows.
In the end, the most difficult part was deciding which image I was going to choose to print up large to display on my wall over the Spring Fling weekend.
Below are a some of favourite images from the shoot.