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Behind the Shot: Featuring Sonja Johnson

One of Australia’s top equestrian photographers, MICHELLE TERLATO travels the world capturing equestrian athletes in action. Each month she shares one of her favorite shots. 

Rider: Sonja Johnson 

Horse: Parkiarrup Illicit Liaison (Ben) 

Event: 2017 Adelaide International 3 Day Event 

Location: Rymil Lake, Adelaide 

Camera & Settings: Canon 7D Mark II, 70-200mm, ISO 400 f 2.8 1/1000 sec. 


To capture this shot, I needed to stand on the island in the middle of Rymil Lake to get that ‘down the barrel’ look, even though Sonja and Ben were actually looking towards their next obstacle, a second brush and water crossing. Luckily, the course ‘dog legged’ to the left, so I was able to stand safely out of the way, yet still get a shot that looked as if they were coming straight for me! 

Why this shot is special:  

I have always loved this shot of Sonja and Ben. Both horse and rider were so completely focused on their job and working together beautifully as a team. You can see the concentration in Ben’s eyes and his ears are pricked towards what is coming up next. The two brush fences are so close together it’s as if you can reach out and touch them, and feel Ben’s legs brushing them slightly as he goes over. The colourful crowd in the background just adds to the atmosphere, reflecting the excitement and emotion of the Adelaide International 3 Day, which is a unique event and a favorite on the calendar for many eventing riders. 

Michelle is available for event, commercial, and private shoots. Visit Michelle Terlato Photography to see more of her beautiful work.