The Friesian Horse as Art Subject • Pet & Cap Magazine

Photographer Leslott Schippers won the prestigious International Photography Award this year for her “Beyond the Horses” photo series. Beautiful picture series of Friesian horses. Bit talked to the talented photographer.

Leslott Shoppers has worked for twenty years as a fashion photographer for many magazines, such as Vogue and ELLE. She is also a mentor at the Photo Academy in Amsterdam. In addition to her work as a fashion photographer, she focuses on taking artistic photographs in which she can express her creativity.

artistic photography

Through her project “Beyond the Horses”, she has made a series of photographs of famous Friesian horses. This series has been named Nature Photographer of the Year 2021. It is a prestigious award from the International Photography Awards (IPA). There were thousands of entries from over 200 different countries. “I didn’t expect to win. I wasn’t interested in that at all. I wanted to know what other people thought of artistic depictions of Friesian horses and to share my art with the rest of the world,” says Lislotte.

Entered into the Animals subcategory within the Nature category. Not only did she win her pictures in the sub-category, but she also became the best female photographer in the main category. “I was totally surprised that I won. It’s so good to get recognition, maybe it’s a little difficult. I’m a very happy person,” she says with a laugh. Her pictures are very expressive. Among other things, she photographed the limited edition stallion of dressage rider Judith Petersen and Johnny Cash also appeared in front of her lens.

“Since I’ve been working with Friesian horses, I feel calm in myself”

The Friesian horse is special to Liselotte, because this type of horse has released a lot in them. “I am charmed by the energy, strength and emotion of the Friesian Horse. They are so wonderful and I am not always. But since I have been working with Friesian horses, I can feel calm in myself.” With the photos you take, you want to look beyond just the outward appearance of the horse. Liselotte goes beyond the horse by looking at emotions, feelings and everything else hidden behind the horse. She does not view it as fashion or nature, but rather as an expression of art. “The limited edition photo has an almost human feel, as if he is talking to me. He stands with his mouth open and Johnny Cash showed many different emotions.” One moment the horse is happy with its ears forward when it hears something and the next moment it can also return the ears. According to the photographer, this is a special process. She really does feel a connection with the Friesian horse, despite her slight fear of horses.


Lislott lives in a loft in the center of Utrecht and does not have her own horses. However, she has had a thing for horses since she was a little girl. She started horse riding when she was seven years old and two years later a dowry was purchased for her sister. Licelot would be able to do that. “This pony Marco can do everything and I can do nothing. It didn’t go well for the first few years, because I wasn’t calm at all and he ran away every time. You can call it a love-hate relationship,” she says with a laugh. I loved my pony, but I was also afraid of him.” Because of this experience, she is looking for the contrast between beauty and the dark side of a horse when shooting. “I want to see more skin under the skin, beyond the horse and to tell a special story,” she explains. “.


Not only does she find the Friesian horse charming, but she also draws inspiration from a lot of art. “I think drawing is a great source of inspiration. You get a lot of emotion and fascination from that where you can tell a story.” Lislotte can let her creativity go by photographing horses and has no control over them. According to Liselotte, the horse itself is releasing something inside of it. She also wants to show that in pictures, so that people look at him longer and feel the emotion. “I am fascinated by the Baroque period with the Friesian horses,” says Schopers. She was in the museum last year with an exhibition of Italian painter Caravaggio and saw a painting made in the Baroque era. “There was a lot of emotion in that painting and it was the way the painting and the composition affected me. I almost cried. I would like to see this ambition for feeling and emotion reflected in the depiction of horses,” says Lislott. Drawing is the photographer’s biggest inspiration, and therefore she wants to take great pictures with thematic subjects. She also made a photo with several heads of horses in the same photo, with black and white horses. People’s reactions are very different. One thought it was very beautiful and even sweet and warm, while the other found it very intense. It can really be very intense and I also want to make that happen, to look and feel more. Everyone is free to think about this,” she notes. Telling a story is important to the photographer.

Recordings in the studio

Leslot depicts horses in a studio. She shows a studio with lamps and fabrics and prefers to let the horse move freely. “If I had a meeting with this horse, I wouldn’t decide anything. Everything the horse does is voluntary and it grows up in its place,” she explains. “I want to complement the passion with the beauty of a horse. I am really fond of the baroque and the elegant tall man.” According to the photographer, it’s also quite a process. Therefore she prefers stallions in front of the camera to mares, they are often more sensitive. “Those tough Frisian stallions just stand still,” she says. Before the horse gets into the studio, you need a lot of patience. Once he’s up, Lislott always tests the light bulbs first. The energy from the lamps can scare them. After that, they weren’t really interested anymore. But of course they are still flying animals and they are separate, so something can always happen. She also had cheeky studs or fun pants in front of the camera. “You can’t control horses,” she notes. The stallion’s pleasing pants were often slipped, then dressed, and bred, and this horse knew no fear, according to Lislott. “So he started neighing in the middle of the box,” she says. According to her, those moments also make for very beautiful photos, because they are one of the best photos she took at that time. You don’t need more than that, she says.

After only a few days of filming, she chose a handful of images, choosing the intensity and not just the outward appearance. “It is very special how I find the Friesian horse and how I can try to capture it that way. As if I were, so to speak, a digital painter for my artwork.” In the future you will definitely see more horses with this photographer. The Spanish Baroque horse is also on her list.

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