Polish photographer Patrycja Makowska was born with a love for horses that soon developed into a passion for the Arabian breed. When still a young girl, Patrycja’s father lent her a camera and the rest, as they say, was history. With an artistic style that makes great use of natural light, Patrycja has now opened her own equine photography business. She talks to The Arabian Breeders’ Magazine about her inspiration, her love for horses, and her future dreams
My name is Patrycja Makowska. I was born in 1992 in Łódź, a city in central Poland. From birth onwards, I have lived in Rzgów, which was a town until 1870 when it became a village. In 2006, Rzgów became a town again, and that is home to me.
Credit Ewa Imielska-Hebda
By profession, I am an embroidery designer but last year (2021) I quit my job in order to start my own business – equine photography, which I began this year. Behind this is a love and passion for the Arabian horse, and that is what drives me.
I have been in love with horses since I was a child. I lived in the countryside where draft horses were common. In 2002, they built a riding school in our village, and it wasn’t long before I started going there. It became a regular feature in my life, spending as much time as I could at the school and with the horses.
The following year, my life changed once again as I started to read equestrian magazines and the reports from horse shows – and that included the Arabian horse. Having read the reports, I would then read the rest of the articles and the small idea of the Arabian horse being the best breed took hold in my mind.
Not only did I discover Arabian horses in 2003, but that was also when photography came into my life. It was February 2003, and I remember it well; my dad lent me his camera – it was all film, back in those days, and I still have prints of those first photographs I took to this day.
Of course, the main subject for my photography was the horses at the riding school. I may have only been 11 years old, but slowly my passions began to combine, even though these photographs were taken as a souvenir so that I could remember the horses I met in my life.
Looking back, it makes me smile as the first and most important photograph tip that I got from my dad was ‘do not shoot against the light’. Today, that seems funny as photographs taken against the light are my favourites, and people often say that they are my hallmark.
It would be another 10 years before I met an Arabian horse in the flesh, and that was through coincidence as I contacted my childhood idol, the photographer Katarzyna Dolińska-Witkowska. It was mainly her photographs that shaped my idea of Arabian horses.
Thanks to this extraordinary coincidence, Arabian horses became a part of my life and ‘Kasia’ invited me to her Zalia Arabians Stud to meet her and the horses. That was it, my focus was set! The following year, in December 2014, she invited me to come and do a photoshoot at her stud and I was immediately hooked on capturing the beauty of the Arabian horse through the camera.
Over time, Kasia gave me further opportunities to photograph her horses as well as some important tips, and she still supports me to this day. She was a pivotal part of my realising my goals and dreams, and I will forever be grateful to her for that.
Thank you for loving my style! I think my photographs reflect my approach to Arabian horses. I believe that these are such unique creatures that they deserve a special setting. Of course, Arabian horses are the main subject of my photographs, and they must be captured on camera as correctly as possible.
However, as time went on, I decided that I would like my works to contain a bit of magic – something that would catch the eye and make people stop and look at them. After much experimenting, I came to the conclusion that I would bring this magic to my work through the use of a delicate light, something that will help emphasise their uniqueness and ethereal nature. This is why my most favourite times of the day for photographing horses are at sunrise and sunset and taking my photographs against that light is an integral part of my work.
I am inspired by various things. When it comes to photographers, my masters are Gigi Grasso and Gregor Aymar. I am inspired by the light and what you can do with it. I am inspired by photographs of others, not only horse photographs – I think that you must not shut yourself off to other areas of photography. An example is the fact that I adore the programme Top Model and the photo sessions organised as part of this. You can pick up some really interesting things, and then use them at work.
When did I first realise that I was a professional photographer? I believe the moment people start paying you for your work, ordering your services, marks that moment. Each publication in the press, on the Internet, each new client – they all confirm my conviction that the path I have taken is the right one, and it also confirms that I am a professional photographer.
There have been a few ‘pinch me’ moments along the way. I think that one of the biggest ones was when, after the 2019 Paris World Championships, I found that my photograph of the stallion Sundown KA (QR Marc x L Serenella) had been used in an article dedicated to him. That was a real moment that meant something, as my picture was chosen from among all the photographs available by the organiser of the show.
I must admit that when I received your invitation to interview me for your magazine, this was also a ‘pinch me’ moment.
My favourite photograph is undoubtedly the one of the stallion Elgoriusz in the poppy field. Photographing an Arabian horse in poppies had been my dream for several years, but finding a field was not easy! And then, when we managed to find the field, there was a problem with finding a suitable Arabian model.
Last year, it finally worked. The Michałów-bred Elgoriusz (Medalionx Elgora by Poganin) was there, standing among the poppies and in front of my camera. It was a special moment indeed. Elgoriusz is a special young horse, very talented and, among many titles, was a medallist at this year’s ECAHO European Sports Arabians Championships as well as Best Horse at the Polish Arabian Horse Sports Championship.
At the moment my overriding dream is the next step in my development, and that would be a trip to the Middle East. I would like to visit several studs in Egypt or in the United Arab Emirates. I just want to enjoy being there and photographing the local horses: in the desert or in flower gardens, with some of the amazing architecture as a backdrop and of course, all taken during the sunrise and sunset…
You can find out more about Patrycja Makowska Equine Photography here.