Event Artist Research – Gypsy Horse Fair

On October 20th I will be travelling to Stowe on the Wold to take pictures at their annual Gypsy Horse Fair. As I haven’t shot an event like this before, I’m going to do research into different styles of photography I can try whilst there.

August Sanders

August Sander’s Work

August Sander’s Biography

.Sander’s work is primarily portraiture of people he passed daily. Arguably his most famous series was ‘People of the 20th Century’.

‘He aims to show a cross-section of society during the Weimar Republic. The series is divided into seven sections: The Farmer, The Skilled Tradesman, Woman, Classes and Professions, The Artists, The City, and The Last People (homeless persons, veterans, etc.). By 1945, Sander’s archive included over 40,000 images.’

I looked at Sander’s work because I like the style of portraiture. I think if I aimed to recreate similar imagery while on the Stowe shoot, I would get successful portraits. I think that my biggest difficulty for this shoot will be approaching people. I also think that getting the correct exposure on my images will be a challenge because the shoot is outside and the weather is unpredictable.

I like Sander’s use of depth of field in his images as the subjects are completely sharp and the background appears out of focus. I think for most of his portraits he was stood up at eye level. However, in the images of children (as seen above), it seems like he lowered his tripod to eye level of the children. This framed the image more effectively as the children don’t seem belittled.
It is unknown exactly what camera and lenses Sander used for his work. However, looking at the images, we can assume it was a 2×3 or 3×4 format. However, it is known that he didn’t use newer equipment and technology in his imagery. He preferred to stick to older equipment which he knew for his portraiture.

Iain McKell

Iain McKell’s Work

More Images of McKell’s Work

In comparison to Sander, Iain McKell is a much more contemporary photographer. His series ‘The New Gypsies’ was published in 2011 and its focused around British horse drawn travellers, who’s caravans are elaborate. The project was shot over 10 years with the “small tribe” of travellers featured.

The project features a combination of portraiture and more general documentary shots which provide context to the rest of the series. The colours in the work make it seem almost like a fashion photo shoot, and they add a dreamy, bohemian feel to them. For these images, it appears that McKell asked the subjects to pose. I particularly like the framing of the image on the left. The caravan behind the subjects add context which may not otherwise be there. I like the depth of field in the second image.Again, the background gives the image context, but the baby being in the image makes it seem more personal, and shows that McKell had built up a relationship with the group.

I particularly liked his portraiture work. I think he finds a colour scheme in each portrait and this works exceptionally well. For example (obviously), in the left image, the background is the same colour as some of the checks on the subjects’ shirt. This also makes the subjects’ skin stand out more against the background. Similarly to Sander, I think he generally takes portraits on eye level with his subjects; meaning that for the portraits of children, he would’ve crouched down to get the image.

I’d like to create something similar to this work while on the shoot. However, this may be more difficult as I won’t have the same relationship with the subjects I’m shooting as McKell had with his. However, I think the depth of field is achievable if I use a high aperture. This may also help me to expose correctly if the day is particularly bright.


Josef Koudelka

Josef Koudelka’s Work -Magnum

Josef Koudelka’s camera Equipment

In 1963, Koudelka started his series ‘Gypsies’ in which he traveled and documenter the journeys of gypsies. He frequently slept outside, but similarly to McKell, he built up a relationship with the set of people he was travelling with, building a level of trust which can be seen in his photography. The project spanned 7 years in total.


Unlike the previous artists on this post, Koudelka’s work was more documentary and featured less portraiture. For the project, he used a wide angle 25mm lens which was crucial as most of the series took place indoors, in cramped situations.

“The ‘Gypsies’ is a product of wide-angle lenses. I bought them by chance from a widow who was selling everything. It changed my vision.”

If he didn’t use a wide angle lens, his photographs would likely have less context. For example, if the image featured below hadn’t used a wide angle lens, the viewer wouldn’t see as many people, meaning that the little girl would have less of an impact.


I think it’s important to ensure there is context in photography, even more so in a set of images. Therefore, I will try to get some more contextual shots, as opposed to focusing entirely on portraiture while at Stowe.


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