The photographic work of Mary McCartney, who was born in London in 1969, has focused on discovering those rare moments of unguarded, emotionally-charged intimacy that offers us a new insight to the subject. Below, she reflects on shooting last year’s Qatar Goodwood Festival, affectionately known as Glorious Goodwood. This year’s event takes place July 28 – August 1.
Q: These images are from last year’s Glorious Goodwood. How did you come to shoot the event?
A: I was invited by Leica to capture the event. It is an event I have always wanted to photograph so I was really pleased to do this.
Q: What camera equipment did you use to shoot them?
A: My Leica M6 and R7.
Q: What made this equipment suitable for this shooting this event?
A: The M6 is such a subtle camera when you need to be discreet and the ease of its operation made it a perfect fit for this wonderful glamourous occasion. The cameras as so discreet as well that you can wander around taking photos without being noticed and catch unguarded moments such as when the jockeys were totally engaged in their preparation for racing. I was able to literally be a fly on the wall.
Q: How would you characterize the images in this portfolio?
A: Intimate and personal. I tried to capture the devotion to the sport by these incredible jockeys and their fitness.
Q: What, if anything, did you hope to achieve with this portfolio and do you think you succeeded?
A: I wanted to capture moments that reflected the love of the horses, the camaraderie and the sheer devotion to their sport. Yes, I think I did succeed.
Q: Can you describe your photographic approach to shooting Glorious Goodwood?
A: Close, intimate, and discreet.
Q: Did this differ from your normal approach or types of photography you shoot? If so, how?
A: I love to be able to be free and shoot for myself – I am often on large budget shoots, where there is a brief to fulfill from the client, models, props and art direction. I find it liberating to be on my own with my favourite cameras and a few rolls of film. I love waiting for the contact sheets to arrive and seeing my photos.
Q: Do you face any specific photographic challenges covering this type of event?
A: It was slightly nerve wracking to begin with but then I suppose the jockeys accepted my presence and I was able to wander and take discreet pictures. I did not want to disturb the calm, quiet before the racing in the locker room.
Q: Do you have a favorite image from this gallery? If so, which one and why?
A: Below is one of my favourites from the gallery. He reminds me of a dancer or an acrobat getting ready for performance. The fitness of these jockeys was unbelievable.
Q: It appears like the locker room area varied widely from the atmosphere of the race track. Can you speak to the differences between the two?
A: There was a buzz and expectation in the crowd – the horse racing crowd was clearly ready for the racing to start and there was a similar feeling close to race time in the locker room. But I would have to say that the calm of the locker room as they prepared was a bit of a surprise to me; it wasn’t macho at all. They loved their sport and I felt their devotion.
Q: Looking back what are some of your favorite memories from the event evoked by your gallery?
A: The camaraderie was on show and I really felt that amongst the jockeys, they are a real family and look out for one another. Watching the groomers tend their horses was also very lovely. I own a horse and love the animals so to see them at this standard for their breed was a privilege.
Q: In your previous blog post about your Goodwood Revival images, it mentions that you focus on discovering those rare moments of unguarded, emotionally-charged intimacy in your images. How do you capture these moments?
A: I try to be calm, discreet and patient. I like to find my picture so go searching for it.
Q: How does shooting the Goodwood Revival differ from shooting Qatar Goodwood Races?
A: This is a hard one! I’d have to say that they had a lot in common – a love of the sport and a passion for excellence. Perhaps the costumes and period dress of the revival made it stand out a bit more and have a bit of fun about it.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like the Leica Blog readers to know?
A: Carry on carrying your camera and a roll of film in your purse, you never know what shot is around the corner and congratulations to Leica for turning 100 last year.
Q: Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to share?
A: I am currently editing for my upcoming show at the Gagosian Gallery in New York in November, which will showcase both Mother’s work and mine together for the first time. My Mother shaped my view of the world and inspired me to embrace spontaneity and capture the unforced. To show with her is such an honour for me and validates the journey I’m on as a photographer.
Thank you for your time, Mary!
– Leica Internet Team
Connect with Mary on her website, Twitter and Instagram. Learn more about Qatar Goodwood Races here.