Horse News

Painting a Picture and a Photo for Philanthropy

Special to the Philanthropy Journal

by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“Photographs are one of the most powerful tools there are to communicate a message and to illuminate a situation. They provide a window into another world that can draw people in, and can elicit an emotional response. When people care, they become motivated to help, and to support a cause, and an organization.”

Carol Walker and her mustang companion, Mica.

I have to admit that I stumbled into having a cause. Four years after starting my horse photography business, I was invited on a photo tour of wild horses in Wyoming. After spending two days viewing wild horse families not just surviving but thriving in very wild, arid, difficult lands, and thriving, I was completely captivated, I was hooked. I returned again and again, getting to know different horses and families, and when I found out that most of them were going to be rounded up and removed from Adobe Town in Wyoming, I was shocked and determined to document this. The roundup was so horrific, seeing horses terrified, injured, losing their families and being removed from their home, that I could not even look at the photographs until 4 months later. However, I became determined to help these horses, and show that they belong on our public lands and deserve to live out their lives wild and free. I wrote my first book, Wild Hoofbeats: America’s Vanishing Wild Horses. I became an advocate for wild horses, traveling and speaking across the county and education people through my books and social media about the issues facing wild horses and what people could do to help.

In 2014 I was invited to join the board of directors of Wild Horse Freedom Federation, and became the Director of Field Documentation. The goals of Wild Horse Freedom Federation matched my own, striving to save the wild horses in America and educating the public on why they should remain wild and free on our public lands. And my photography has been one of my strongest assets in my role on their board.

Photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

As upsetting as my images of the wild horse roundup were, they shed light for people on how devastating the actions of the federal agency charged with managing wild horses, the Bureau of Land Management, could be on these sensitive and beautiful creatures. My photos that showed horses running in fear from the helicopters with terror in their eyes make much more of an impact one people than a mere written description.

When I talk about the family being the most important part of wild horses’ lives, a tender photo of a mare bending protectively over her foal, or a stallion protecting his family speak very loudly.

How do you take a photograph that has impact, that might move people to take action to support and organization? My answer would be to find subjects at the heart of your mission, learn about them and photograph them in a casual, captivating and engaging way. I have never been a proponent of stiff studio portraits. I say, get outside and take photographs of your subject when they are relaxed, and not posing for the camera…(CONTINUED)

5 replies »

  1. I have enjoy your beautiful photos in calendars and books and I thank you for every minute that you spend working to help our precious wild ones.


  2. From AMERICAN HERDS (excerpts)

    So as always, the first thing that reaches out and riveted me was Carol’s unbelievably gorgeous photos. Stunning show horses, overflowing manes and tales, glistening coats, big, beautiful eyes, arching necks, gaits, stances, running, rearing, domestic horses, wild horses, you name it, she made sure to cover it all.

    But unlike your average coffee table book, which may or may not capture the magnificence and spirit Carol’s horse photography is renown for, there’s actually a purpose behind these photos and suddenly, I realized why I WAS the perfect person to get feedback from about this book – but I’ll get back to that shortly as well.

    The second thing that stirred me, once I could take my eyes off the photos, was the way she introduced the book. It was immediately apparent that she just absolutely loved horses, all horses, any kind of horse and this love had grown out of a working knowledge and understanding of these unique and special beings who are so inspirational to so many.

    It was the following quote that touched me deepest and in my opinion, epitomized the essence of the book:

    “Why photograph horses? Because they fill my heart. Capturing them on film or digital allows me a way to express that relationship. It also gives me a way to show their spirit, their joy in life, and their beauty so that others can see it too.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Her pictures do indeed tell the story of what is happening to these horses AND that the herds do not consist of thin, malnourished animals, but healthy thriving horses that live in areas that domestic livestock cannot!! They deserve places of their own where there are no cows, sheep or fossil fuel industries. Continuing to remove them in the pretense that they are the ones to blame for the destruction of their habitat is a crime perpetuated by the BLM & the livestock lobbies! Making this clear to the general public, as Wild Horse Annie did years ago, has to be done again & again.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, absolutely stunning imagery. Thank you for your dedicated work, Carol.
    And for reminding us that we should all work together at this eleventh hour in the plight of our wild horses and burros. It is essential that we remember that this is like no other time in history, and our cause is not about US, not about ego or money, but about the WILD ONES, whose fate under the blade and to more suffering and destruction is being cruelly delivered at this very minute.

    I live right off a back highway through the mountains in New Mexico, and heard a horse cry out from a stock trailer running down the road after midnite very recently. The sound hit me like a rock to the gut. When I looked out to see, only the disappearing tail lights were there. It was a chilling premonition of what is coming unless we all can work together in good faith, and end this madness that has these precious creatures in it’s death grip.

    Liked by 1 person

Care to make a comment?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.