As the saying goes, art has different meanings to different people. For artist Kristian Verono, that saying resonates in his medium of choice: thought-provoking equine photography. Similar to the photos of Helmut Newton (whose provocative, black and white style was popularized in the 1960s), Verono is determined to make a name for himself in the world of equestrian photography and he’s doing it on his own terms.

After traveling the world in the fashion industry, the French-Canadian traded in his styling skills for a camera in order to pursue his true passions: photography and horses. Although his gallery is based in Canada, Verono spends his winters in Florida working with clients on private photo shoots. Instead of posed photographs, Verono prefers to spend time with his subjects, creating a unique, natural shot that’s almost always out of the ordinary.

While on his long drive down to Florida from Canada, NF Style caught up with Verono to learn about his new para-equestrian dressage series, what inspires his work, and his unique take on getting that perfect shot.

NF Style: How did you get involved in photographing para-equestrian dressage riders and their horses?

Kristian Verono: It all began when I met Sophie Ghedin and I ended up renting a small studio where she boards her horse. She introduced me to [other] para riders [Chelsea Perez, and Elle Fauckner, pictured] at the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington. I was amazed by their stories and how well they [rode]. Photography and horses are a combination of both my passions.

*Editor’s note: to learn more about Verono’s work with the riders above, click here

Can you talk about your transition from the fashion world?

When I was in the fashion business, I was a stylist for a lot of photoshoots. When I left the fashion world, I wanted to be involved with horses, so it was natural to become a photographer. So, I bought a camera, began to shoot, and sold out my first exhibition. I always say, I’m not a photographer, but an artist who uses a camera.

What inspires your work?

It’s the [relationship] with the animal—the portrait more than the sport, itself, inspires me. I was raised with horses and had my first pony when I was seven years old. So to me, horses are everything. I’m always trying to portray them in a majestic and powerful way. I met a group of retired ladies who do dressage and they just ride for fun and are loving life. It’s refreshing to see some people who aren’t involved with horses just for business. But these women and their horses are beautiful, too… I look for magic moments.

I’m not a photographer, but an artist who uses a camera.

Do you follow a set process for your shoots?

It’s pretty casual and I work alone. I never shoot with a flash—I don’t like it. I try not to stage the photo too much. When I do commissioned portraits, it’s with real people, so I don’t try to make them pose or have their hair and makeup done—it looks too stiff. I try to get my clients talking, have a conversation, or walk with their horse, and then I’ll shoot. One of my favorite photos is right when a horse began to pee—it’s amazing. Some photographers would have waited for the horse to finish peeing, and then go on with the shoot. But for me, it’s all about being natural.

Why do you prefer black and white over color?

I like to shoot in black and white because it better portrays emotions. Sometimes, photographs have too many colors that take away from the actual image. When a photo is black and white, it’s timeless. When you look at the photos, you don’t know if it’s from the 1940s or today. Horses have been around for thousands of years, and been involved with every time period, which you can see through art history. I just want to keep that going.

-All photos courtesy of Kristian Verono. To learn more about Kristian’s work, visit his Facebook page.