When Howie Schatzberg was fifteen his father, well-known horse show photographer Jack Schatzberg, put him to work in the equine industry’s first portable dark room that Jack created to develop film and display photos at horse shows. By the time Howie was 16 he was officially photographing the second ring for his dad, mainly shooting Hunter/Jumpers; the year after that he added Reining Horses and Saddlebreds to his repertoire and he was on his way.
It was the beginning of what was to become a lifelong vocation for Howie. Soon he was crisscrossing the country photographing all different breeds of horses, enjoying the diversity and honing his skills with his camera.
“To this day I enjoy photographing all different breeds”, says Howie. “I never get bored. I may get physically tired, but I enjoy the excitement of shooting many kinds of horses. It was one of the things my dad taught me. He said “…if you want to make a living in this business, stay diverse!”
Howie is the official photographer for the American Saddlebred Triple Crown: the Lexington Junior League Show, the Kentucky State Fair and World Championships in Louisville and the American Royal Show. He covers the World Championship Morgan Show, the National Show Horse Finals and the largest Arabian horse show in the world, the Scottsdale All-Arabian Show, as well as several regional championship shows.
“I’ve photographed national champion Draft horses, the Morgan Nationals for 25 years and the Saddlebred World Championships for ten years. Different breeds of horses are photographed with different angles,” says Howie. “There’s some different timing involved and you shoot the riders differently too. It’s a real challenge to make sure I am getting the shots that each breed is looking for, but it is awesome to shoot the best of the breed shows every year. I also photograph the Toronto Royal Winter Fair where top hat and tails are still part of the attire, and in 1998 I went to Nagano, Japan and shot the closing ceremonies for the Olympics.”
“With the advent of digital photography we have increased the number of photographs we take and the number of photographers we use at Scottsdale and other large shows by two or three times. I used to work with a Hasselblad, the best medium format camera in the World. I miss it and the angles I was able to create. You only got one shot with that camera, but I always knew if I got it or not. Now I’m a Nikon guy. It’s a lot easier than it used to be, the physical part of it that is. I shoot a Nikon D3, soon to be D4.”
Howie is something of a sports nut. He plays hockey three times a week, a passion he shares with his son Joey. He has a 19-year-old daughter, Hailey and a two-year-old daughter, Jacqueline. “I met my wife Megan through the horses,” says Howie. “She’s ridden Morgans her whole life, managed and trained for David Rand, a top Morgan trainer based in Maine, and has won National and World titles in the Morgan breed. She currently rides with Shannon Beethe, where she keeps her Morgan.”
In 2012 Howie Schatzberg will do 22 shows, three of them in Scottsdale. He’s gone from home about 20 weeks each year. “I am able to keep a full show schedule in part because my home base is covered. Jane King has been working for me for 15 years and does the majority of my printing and fields all orders and requests. I feel very lucky to be in the horse industry and I am very content with my lifestyle,” says Howie. “If I had the choice I would keep my same show schedule for the next 15 or 20 years and happily spend the rest of the time with my wife and kids.”