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Behind the Lens: Get to Know Endurance Ride Photographer Becky Pearman

https://beckypearman.smugmug.com/



by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
February 18, 2020


Becky Pearman, https://beckypearman.smugmug.com/ is one of our long-time professional endurance ride photographers. In addition to endurance ride photography, she’s been published in numerous national magazines and websites, including John Lyon’s Perfect Horse magazine, US Equestrian Federation publications and online media, and breed magazines including Standardbred and Appaloosa. Some of her highest accomplishments are having been the US Endurance Team photographer in France for the 2014 World Equestrian Games, and covering the 2015 Young Riders World Championship in Chile for FEI and USEF. She currently has 49 magazine covers to her credit.

Where do you live?
Ivanhoe, Virginia

How did you first get into photography?
I inherited my dad's Zeiss-Icon 35mm camera when he passed - I was 13 that summer. My mom gave it to me out of nine kids. I never looked back. I started taking pictures of all the horses I could, and by the time I was about 19 I got my first money for competitive trail riding prints of my friend's horses. I still have that camera!

I have never had formal photography education besides my ninth grade teacher schooling me in darkroom techniques and camera settings. I worked on my high school yearbook staff.

What equipment do you normally shoot with?
Canon 7d Mark ii, which is a phenomenal crop sensor sports camera. Favorite lens is a 70-200 2.8 Canon. I’m getting ready to invest in my first full frame camera body!

When did you start shooting endurance rides?
I shot my first endurance ride in 1988 (I had been shooting CTR until then).

Why do you like shooting endurance rides?
My mom told me once that "horse" was probably the first word out of my mouth. Since then, my obsession with horses has never waned.

I love shooting endurance for the the natural action of horses and riders truly enjoying going down the trail with joy. I love the outdoors and seeing new places, experiencing all kinds of weather conditions and saying hi to riders on trail.

What are some challenges you find in shooting endurance rides?
Crummy lighting in the East regions because of so many wooded areas. Lack of accessibility to the best photo spots.

What are one or two of your favorite ride shooting stories/adventures/misadventures?
One time while shooting the Million Pines ride in Georgia about 2008, I had to park along Interstate 16 and climb a six foot fence to get to my photo spot at "Bobcat Rock". I was told to back my truck way up the bank to sort of be out of sight. Well that year I got my truck stuck. I just got enough cell service to call ride management and they sent Danny Herlong to pull me out. Which he did while I stayed in my spot shooting. 

I'd have to say my favorite memories though are of sitting in the rivers waiting on horses at the Big South Fork ride in Tennessee and Ride Between the Rivers in West Virginia. I was usually able to capture some unusual action in these spots and the beauty is incredible.

Also in 2018 at Leatherwood in North Carolina when it snowed. I'd been shooting over 30 years and that was the first time I ever shot endurance in the snow.

And any other pertinent info you’d like to share with us?
If you are reading this and ever plan to get into endurance photography, it can be the most rewarding, challenging, frustrating, crazy and (sometimes dangerous) way to "eke" out a meager income. But, it is super tough to be competitive in this digital world - be prepared for a challenge.

If you are reading this and are a customer of ride photographers, we thank you for your on-going business. Please be respectful of our copyright limits and always check with the photographer if you are not certain how that photo can be used, displayed or shared on social media! Now let's ride!

Below are three of of Becky’s favorite shots over the years.


This is at the spring Sand Hills Ride in South Carolina. I would get this sunrise shot while riders warmed up for the 50 miler. It was used on convention magnets a couple years ago, and a vertical shot like this one made the cover of Endurance News that year.

 
This family is the Issacs from Tennessee. Karen has been in AERC for about 25 yrs, and I photographed their daughter Madeline getting a bath in a horse bucket when she was a few months old at an endurance ride.

 
The group shot was taken at Leatherwood two years ago when it snowed. I had been photographing endurance about thirty years then and it was my first time shooting riders in the snow!