Hunt photographer Sarah Farnsworth has an uncanny ability to capture the intricate moments that keep this tradition alive.
Sarah Farnsworth's website envelopes you. A quick flick through one album all too easily becomes an afternoon gone. Recently awarded the accolade of Countryside Alliance Rural Hero, Sarah's love for hunting blossomed at the age of 10. “My first day was with my grandfather, who suggested I come out with him as I was getting bored on Saturdays,” she says. “It was a cubbing morning along a disused railway line just outside Moreton in Marsh and there were foxes everywhere! Hearing the sound of hounds in full cry that morning will never leave me, and at that point I was well and truly bitten by the hunting bug.”
And her passion for photography soon followed. “Aged 11, I spotted a fox out hunting and mentioned to mum that I wished I had a camera to catch the moment. My parents, who run an art gallery and are both keen amateur photographers, lent me theirs, and the rest is history.”
During her time as a professional photographer, Sarah has followed over 200 packs armed with her Nikon D3s and various lenses to capture her signature shots (her favourite is a nikkor 70-200 f/2.8). This isn't just foxhounds, but includes beagles, harriers, minkhounds, staghounds, basset hounds and buckhounds – in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and France.
One of the first things that strikes you about Sarah's work is her ability to portray a well-rounded view of hunting. “To me, there's more to it than photographing the field jumping hedges with the view of making mega bucks out of people's vanity,” she continues. “It's about documenting the interactions between the hunt staff and hounds, and between the members of the mounted field and the action of the day. Visually, there are such great colours, tones, and light to work with, and every meet is different.”
In addition to this, she imbues her images with a quality that represent the real hard work and dedication that goes into running a pack – day in, day out, throughout the year. “It's not just about people getting dressed up in a red coat and gallivanting across the countryside. I try to document the working kennel life side, whether it is puppy shows, kennel duties, walking out etc. And besides, any excuse to visit new kennels and be surrounded by hounds is fine by me!”