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I’d like to start a movement of self acceptance, embracing beauty of self and choosing to love the qualities that make you unique

A Conversation With Equestrian Photographer, Stevie Bagdesarian


I would start a movement of self acceptance, embracing beauty of self and choosing to love the qualities that make you unique. These are the things that bring photos to life and what I try to capture in each of my shoots.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Stevie Bagdesarian. Stevie is a renowned Equestrian, Portrait, and fine art photographer. Stevie is a graduate of Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois, and a World’s Champion Equestrian. She has been featured in Keenland magazine, Arabian Horse Times, The National Horseman, The International Show Horse, Horse World, United States Equestrian Federation, Chicago News 5, and numerous others.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have always loved art and expression. When I was in high school, I Picked up a camera and began taking pictures of my friends at horses shows to capture the sentimental behind the scenes photos of the competitions. I created scrapbooks of horse shows and Incorporated my candid pictures. I then began traveling back and forth from Kentucky to chicago, during college and started shooting at my family’s farm and at horse shows.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

In 2017, I was hired to shoot the horses appearing in the Rose Parade. We started shooting at 2am in the morning. We began taking pictures of the horses ready as they were prepared for the parade. I had to run the entire length of the parade, which was 5.5 miles. I had to sprint ahead of the horses and make my way into the crowd, so I could time my shot and stay in front of the horses. It was a great experience, but probably the most physically taxing of my career.


Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I was on a wildlife shoot in Peru, a monkey swung down from a vine and grabbed the shoulder strap of my camera, catching me off guard and trying to steal my camera. Thank goodness for quick hands, I was able to save my camera and keep the monkey from getting hurt or too upset by placing him onto another tree.

Also, when I first started doing shoots of stallions, I didn’t understand the importance of keeping the stallions far away from any mares during a shoot. I had a stallion get very “excited” over the mares in the next pasture, which led to a lot of photoshopping for me! Moral of the story, always be on your toes when working with animals

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I don’t just take pictures, I approach every shoot from an artistic perspective. My main goal is to always capture the spirit of my he subject and their emotions. One of my favorite shoots is the World’s Championship Horse Show, where I shoot reaction pictures in the winner’s circle. I also get to capture the emotions the moment the horse and rider team are called to get their ribbon. For many of these teams, this is a lifelong dream and a goal, which takes years of hard work and preparation. The joy and sense of accomplishment that lights up their faces, both horse and rider, is what I strive to communicate in each one of these amazing photos.


Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Most importantly, if you are feeling frustrated or have lost your passion take a break! Shoot something completely different. 
 Shooting horses can get frustrating, and when I start to feel burnt out, I will shoot people. I can direct a person and ask them to do certain things, which I cannot always accomplish with a horse. I also love to shoot landscapes for purely artistic expression.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Howie Schatzberg hired me to be a part of his official photography team for the World’s Championship Horse Show in Louisville, Kentucky. He gave me the freedom to do something completely different than a traditional action shot of a horse trotting. I get to take more of an artist approach that focused on the whole show experience and the emotions of horse and rider.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

I released my first Equestrian fine art collection in June of 2018, and I am currently working on a collection that will be released this winter and one for next spring. I am doing another Equestrian collection and one collection of nude portraits that encourage people to embrace their bodies and love themselves for who and what they are rather than conforming to society’s standards of physical beauty.




How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I do shoots for the American Saddlebred Reacue, and I donate prints as well as fine art pieces to a variety of charitable organizations and causes. I hope that by sharing my work with these organizations, they are able to create more opportunities to serve their causes.

Can you share “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Take Stunning Photos”. Please an example for each.

  1. Find the most unique characteristic of your subject, whether it is a person, animal, or object and accentuate it. For example, if I’m shooting a horse with a prominent eye, I love to get as much expression as I can from them.
  2. Capture emotion. If at all possible, go for the candid shot. These photos are always more authentic and speak the true spirit of the subject.
  3. Go for something unique and break the mold! Is there a particular angle that speaks to you, even if it seems out of the ordinary, go with it! I have many pieces in my Equestrian fine art collection that are from a unique perspective, and these are the pieces that speak to the most people.
  4. Lighting is your friend. Shoot outside if you can. I prefer natural light above all else, so time of day is crucial. Go for early morning shots or just as the sun is moving towards setting. It is magical.
  5. Plan ahead. Are you taking pictures of people or animals? Know ways to direct them that will help you to accomplish the goals of the shoot. You can help to put your subject at ease and give yourself the best opportunity to capture their true spirit by preparing a d knowing how to direct them, in order to get that one stellar shot.


You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would start a movement of self acceptance, embracing beauty of self and choosing to love the qualities that make you unique. These are the things that bring photos to life and what I try to capture in each of my shoots.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

 Instagram @steviebphotos

Facebook Stevie B Photos

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Originally published at medium.com

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