Young Sussex entrepreneur Rosanna Filmer has an eye on the future – quite literally- and has begun a promising career as an equine photographer. With no proper training, but a strong eye for composition and form, she experimented with photography before focusing on the subjects that interested her most – the beautiful Welsh Section B ponies she had grown up around and with which she has a special connection.
At 17, she told her parents she was quitting her fee-paying school midway through her A levels and with her father’s heavy old Nikon camera, struck out on her own as a freelance photographer. Now just under a year later, she has her own website, a steady flow of commercial and publishing commissions, and even an award tucked under her belt
“I’m an intrepid person; I like the occasional adventure,” said Rosanna, describing how she won her first accolade on a volunteering expedition to the Indonesian jungle. But it is also the approach she takes to life in general.
“You’re at school basically from when you start walking. I didn’t plan on going to university anyway,” she added.“I just wanted to get out there and start doing something. It’s exciting seeing what you do and don’t like.”
Inspired by the renowned equine photographer Mark Harvey, the National Portrait Gallery-exhibited artist whose images have an almost sculptural quality, Rosanna’s first ‘proper job’ was to take pictures for a website advertising the family’s stud farm at Plumpton Green in East Sussex. Then she trawled the pony club and unaffiliated events circuit, snapping shots for proud parents. Commissions from farming organisations and portraits of pets followed, along with a variety of commercial work –which includes going back to Lewes Old Grammar to photograph former fellow pupils.
But it is with less biddable subjects that she clearly has an affinity.
“I seem to have a natural connections with animals, which helps me capture those elusive images, showing the animal’s individual character,” she said.“I want the viewer to be able to see all the expressions. What I admire about Mark Harvey’s pictures is that there is so much to look at and yet so little in them. Your focus is entirely on the horse. That’s what I aspire to.
Her prizewinning shot in the 2014 Camps International photo competition – of a barefoot soccer match between villagers and volunteers – took her out of her professional and personal comfort zone.
“Within 10 minutes of arriving in the jungle I had two leeches on my hip and my chest. I cried,” she admitted. “We hung our hammocks further into the jungle than some of the others on the trip, away from the river. I thought the crocodiles can get them first! But the food was probably the most challenging, partly because I’m a steak and chips girl. It’s all unbelievable bland rice and bony chicken – I lost 8lb in four weeks. The only recognizable food was Oreos.
“The villagers basically live in houses that look like sheds but their English was pretty good. They knew the P sign for picture and they all seemed to know what a selfie was!”
To view Rosanna’s work, go to: www.rgfphotography.com