The path to finding polo has been quite long for polo photographer Paige Williams. Lost time doesn’t matter, but the present does—and she’s determined to make up for all the years that she isn’t wandering around the field to capture the best polo moments.
Before getting into photography, Paige used to be a jewelry designer and a graphic designer. After moving on from these career paths, she realized that a life with horses is an excellent path to traverse.
While she grew up on a farm loving these four-legged beasts, the photographer only got involved with horses in her mid-40s. “I decided to find a place to work with animals,” she tells POLO LADY. Unexpectedly, she encountered Dan Keating—who she knew, later on, is the president and captain of the Westchester Polo Club—who let her volunteer for a farm exclusively for polo ponies.
Of course, as someone new in the field, she had to learn horsemanship along the way. During her stint on the farm, Paige was allowed to attend polo matches of the club, too. Little did she know that her photography career would pick up from there.
“I began taking photos of the ponies at the trailers during halftime and after the matches,” the creative recalls. She admits that her takes were initially lousy, especially the photographs of the polo ponies she took at the farm. “Being a designer, I had higher aesthetic standards for the photographs than my ability could provide. At the Westchester Polo matches, I struggled to get high-speed action shots with poor results. It became clear that I really needed to educate myself,” Paige adds.
The self-taught photographer scoured the web to learn the best practices and techniques. She eventually mastered her skills, saying her style focuses on creating a dynamic or beautiful image that shows the viewer something about the pony, such as athletic abilities, personalities, or their relationships with each other or their riders. Her aesthetic is realistic, with a tad of humor whenever possible, as she describes.
“A big part of my style stems from my perspective of being located where other photographers are not traditionally located,” Paige further lets on, “I truly want to tell a unique story about the small moments of polo. I include the big moments as well, but my passion is in getting the wonderful minutia. Along with my photos on Instagram, I like to take the opportunity to tell the viewers and followers something about polo. By helping people understand the game, we were hoping to get more people wanting to come back and grow the sport, one family or person at a time.”
It’s hard to choose favorites, but if she had to choose one among the countless images she’s taken, the polo lady singles out: “One of my favorite shots is from the first year of The Gauntlet after the final, when two ponies were being honored. I caught the moment when the two ponies were greeting each other prior to being blanketed. On the right is the BPP of the CaptiveOne U.S. Open Tournament, Delfina Molinera, owned by Francisco Elizalde. On the left is the BPP of the final of the CaptiveOne U.S. Open match, Mega Chistosa, owned by Facundo Pierces.”
As an avid fan of polo, Paige also tried to hop on the horse and play on the field. However, life and work conflicts got in the way. Nevertheless, she’s still as keen and as passionate in her path as a polo photographer and a horse lover and carer.
As a lady in a relatively male-dominated field, this lens woman is proud that women have been very active in polo. “The women in the polo community are incredibly brave, mentally and physically! With polo being one of the unique sports where women and men play together, women are making a major contribution, continuously showing their seriously impressive skills and wowing the fans. I can think of quite a few women who are the stars on the field when playing with men. I am so pleased to be able to capture and highlight the women grooms, players, and patrons to show anyone viewing my Instagram that women are an incredibly important part of the world’s polo family,” Paige beams.
“As a photographer, I love the juxtaposition of such a fierce sport being played by a female with her game face on in an aggressive ride off with the softness of a ponytail blowing out from under a pink helmet!”
Apart from photography, Paige says that being with horses will be part of her ultimate plan in the coming years. As she has dabbled in the many facets of these animals, from being a feeder, a groom, and even trying out specific horse medical care, she’s confident that her mind and heart will be at ease looking after these magnificent creatures. “I am planning to find a place to volunteer for horse care,” she declares. And there’s definitely no stopping this passionate horsewoman!
Photographs courtesy of Paige Williams
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Mariel Abanes is the Managing Editor of POLO LADY Magazine.