Tim Wilkinson is a Nottinghamshire-based Equine Sports Photographer. He’s been involved in the world of equine photography for around 15 years now, but it’s only been in the last decade that he’s started to give his work more serious focus. Since then, he’s found himself catapulted into the limelight through the power of social media, where his business “Eventing Images” has begun to garner far more attention particularly from equine brands and riders looking to use his expertise. Tim has also been using the CEWE Professional service to create Photo Books for his riders for a number of years now.
How Tim Got Started in Equine Sports Photography
Although the equine world is now his focus, Tim’s initial interest in photography was piqued by a world with far more horsepower.
“I got my first camera at 20 years old, at the time I was absorbed in the world of motorsport, fast cars and motorbikes.”Tim Wilkinson
Before Tim got his start in equine photography around 15 years ago, he had already begun dabbling in photography, shooting F1, rally, touring cars or even motorbikes – all of which truly absorbed his attention.
“Now I’m totally immersed in the world of natural horsepower, and the magnificent form of a horse and rider working in harmony.”Tim Wilkinson
It was during a walk around the gardens of Chatsworth House that Tim got his introduction to the world of horse trials. The Bower in the grounds of Chatsworth House is the feature water jump in the cross country section of the horse eventing there, and when Tim was there it was being prepared for the forthcoming International Horse Trial. Curious, Tim scoured the internet that night and discovered more about eventing, and bought a few tickets to the event at Chatsworth House to get up close to the action and learn more about eventing. Since then, Tim’s love and appreciation for the sport of eventing has grown tremendously into the burning passion it is today.
What is Eventing?
British Eventing likens eventing to a triathlon on horseback, as both horse and rider demonstrate a wide range of skills across the three major disciplines, making it the ultimate equestrian challenge. It demands harmony and rhythm in the dressage, balance and precision in the show jumping and both accuracy and bravery in cross country. Also featured in the Olympics, Eventing is a sport practised worldwide by young and old alike, and is the only professional sport that pitches men and women against one another on a level playing field, demanding a unique balance of coordination and physical ability for both horse and rider, as well as a real connection between the two so that they can work in harmony together.
“Eventing always draws me back for more, and having never ridden horses myself it’s been a steep learning curve. Horses truly are magnificent creatures.”Tim Wilkinson
Eventing Images Today
Tim’s hard work over the last ten years has earned him recognition as one of Britain’s top equine photographers. He was first published around ten years ago in a local equine magazine “Equestrian Life” and now he covers all of British Eventing for them. Tim’s work has also received extensive international publication, with regular appearances in Swedish equestrian media and in New Zealand-based equine publications. He has an ever-growing client portfolio of equine brands that require action shots of their ambassadors and sponsored riders for inclusion in advertising.
Team Eventing Images was formed around eight years ago, and Tim now works with a contingent of 10 very talented up-and-coming international riders. We’re very fortunate that the UK is the home to many of the most highly regarded equine events in the world, including Badminton CCI5* Horse Trials, widely acknowledged as the pinnacle of the sport, and Tim has covered it on assignment for various publications for the last eight years.
Tim’s Photography & Inspiration
Tim describes his photography as “documentary in style, telling a story that draws the viewer in…”. He aims to crystallise a moment in time, preserving a memory to cherish and giving the riders something to look back on in years to come. Tim says this applies just as much to his riders as to himself, as he documents their journey through events he’s also documenting his own journey and progression as a photographer, always striving for that perfect shot.
“Eventing is a tough sport. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, and I’m fortunate enough to join the riders on their journey, going behind the scenes to see what it really takes to get these magnificent athletes and majestic horses ready to compete together at their best. If I can truly capture this in my work, then I know I’ve done my job, and I’ll never stop until I achieve this.”Tim Wilkinson
Tim’s Proudest Moment
What makes Tim most proud is seeing a rider he’s worked with for a long time finally achieve their goal. He’s been fortunate enough to witness and document the journey of two of his sponsored riders as they’ve progressed from a grassroots level (BE90) to the Badminton Horse Trials, where only 85 of the top riders in the world make the starting line each year. So it goes without saying that it’s a great achievement in itself just to be one of the few riders able to compete at Badminton. Imogen Murray (right), one of Tim’s team successfully completed her first CCI5* event in 2014 and has gone on to complete six more. Most recently Imogen finished 6th at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials just a couple of weeks ago. Alicia Hawker (left), another member of Tim’s team completed her first CCI5* event in 2017 and has gone on to complete three more. Tim is also working with a further three riders who have recently qualified to compete at the top level, so the next few seasons are shaping up to be very exciting.
“I continue to use CEWE for my portfolio of photo books for a number of reasons. CEWE are a UK-based provider that I can contact whenever needed, the creation software is very intuitive, gives me a huge degree of creative flexibility and the print quality of the final product is second to none.”Tim Wilkinson
Tim’s favourite CEWE PHOTOBOOK by far is the Large Landscape, as he feels it lends itself best to his style of photography. He also favours our High Gloss Paper, as it really adds depth and punch to the colours in his photos, providing the most vibrant finish. The sumptuous thickness given to the paper by the UV coating also gives it a substantial, professional feeling, and the quality of our books has surpassed all of TIm’s expectations to date.
He also told us about his favourite feature in the Design Software:
“I’m a huge fan of the “Fade” filters, coupling these with a darker or lighter background allows me to really play around with how I fade images in or out across a single or even double page. This gives me the ability to get really creative with how I lay my books out.”Tim Wilkinson
Tim’s Creative Process
All of Tim’s Photo Books centre around a rider, covering on average between 12 and 15 events per season. As each rider also has multiple horses to ride, Tim ends up with over 1000 photos as his starting point. Constructing the book and the narrative is a delicate balancing act between fully telling the story of the rider’s season whilst not overloading the book with too many images. Tim’s books usually contain around 400 images in the final draft, spread across 50 pages and taking roughly 100 hours to produce each book.
Tim narrows his selection down by first choosing the bigger, more significant events and ordering them in the book chronologically. He then looks at where riders placed in each event, adding these next, and the gaps are then filled with images from smaller events. To Tim, these are just as important as the bigger events as this is where younger horses start their careers.
Tim uses the CEWE PHOTOBOOK Assistant as a starting point when creating his books, as this gives him a rough initial draft of the book. He then painstakingly reviews the book page by page, adjusting layouts, moving and removing images, editing templates and more. Tim uses a lot of black and white shots to contrast the vibrant colours, so choosing the composition for this is very important. He also goes through and decides which images deserve to be treated as featured images and which ones will be displayed in full across a single or double page.
Tim likes to make best use of all the features available to him in our software, and enjoys tinkering with layouts and filters, particularly the fade filter and adjusting transparency, always striving to create something unique.
“I currently use the font “Impact” throughout my books, but I try to keep text to a minimum. I try to tell as much of the story using images only, as I find it the most challenging way to craft a narrative.”Tim Wilkinson
What’s Next for Tim?
As the 2019 season is nearly drawing to a close, Tim will soon be working on the next set of Photo Books for his riders. He’s worked with 10 riders this season, documenting their journey through 2019’s events, and their photos will form the basis of his next batch of books.
“Producing the books in time for Christmas makes them feel extra special to me, as I get to see the excitement in my riders’ eyes when they open the presentation box and see the front cover, and then seeing their faces as they relive their greatest moments from the season really brings me joy.”Tim Wilkinson
Next year, Tim is hoping to find time to adventure abroad to the European circuit. Several of his team’s riders have been long-listed for their National Teams, and there are even hopes for Olympic selection, so 2020 is already looking to be an exciting time for both Tim and his team of riders as he prepares to document the next chapter in their careers.