Into the light: Rescued pony star of photo shoot

Coconut takes a bow in an image by Ramon Casares.
Coconut takes a bow in an image by Ramon Casares.

A pony rescued from a kill pen in the United States has taken center stage in a photo shoot by fine art photographer Ramon Casares.

Coconut, now five, features in the spectacular images in Casares’ trademark chiaroscuro style, designed to immortalize the journey of this equine and her rescuers. (Chiaroscuro is the use of strong contrasts  between light and dark.)

Coconut with Ramon Casares and Pamela Flanagan.
Coconut with Ramon Casares and Pamela Flanagan.

She was rescued from a kill pen in 2017 by Pamela Flanagan and Rob Journayvaz. Both are polo players and enthusiasts, and sent the then feral Coconut to their close friend and trainer Jillian DeGeorge, who they give the most credit for turning Coco into the sweet and playful pony she is today. Recently started under saddle, Coconut’s training has focused on the polo basics, so that she may transfer that knowledge to her young riders. Flanagan, who is also an attorney, has made rescuing equines a passion to compliment her love for polo. Over the past year, Coconut has evolved from sensitive and skittish to trusting and brave, which is emphasised in her portraits.

Casares’ stunning images, photographed so that she is the only source of light and detail, shine as bright as this little pony’s future.

Coconut has a bright future as a polo pony.
Coconut has a bright future as a polo pony.

Coconut has also learned a few tricks along the rescue journey, including how to bow. As a fitting expression of her gratitude to her rescuers, Casares captured this pony’s bow in his typical fashion: with art and illumination.

Coconut’s shoot with Casares follows in a long line of rescued wildlife and sport horse portraits that have defined his work. Building on influences from his background as a native of Argentina and career as an exotic animal caregiver at the country’s largest zoo, Casares expanded his photographic talents to include all species of creature, from human and equine to possum and crocodile. He has photographed animals from nearly every phylum, class, and order in the animal kingdom.

Coconut's repertoire includes bowing.
Coconut’s repertoire includes bowing.

But despite his passion for the horses and traditional commissioned work, Casares’s portrait-style images of nature’s rarest and most common species are the artist’s true accomplishment and calling card, along with his trademark style devoid of background distractions and illuminated to detail each whisker, feather, or scale. Casares captures an essence with each image that underscores his own passion and vision as a photographer and conservationist.

During the evolution of his photographic career, he began to visit wildlife rescues to document the plight of their patients. Realizing his images could generate support and awareness for those injured and recuperating commonplace species, as well as those who are in danger of extinction, Casares embarked on a mission to unite his talent for photography with his passion for conservation. The oversized fine art book Broken was the result.

Broken is the final product of three years of photography, the resilience of each animal, and the selfless efforts of their rescuers. In the oversized book, the saga of each animal is told beside their stunning and emotionally evocative images with the goal of bringing awareness to their struggle and rehabilitation.

Casares intends to expand the Broken: Rescued Wildlife Fine Art Project to multiple countries and continents to maximize awareness and resources for endangered wildlife.

An image from Ramon Casares's Broken: Rescued Wildlife Fine Art Project.
An image from Ramon Casares’s Broken: Rescued Wildlife Fine Art Project.




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