About Us

It is often the way in life where one thing leads to another, and that is how I ended up choosing photo journalism as a career.

First came a love of animals, horses in particular which I inherited from my father, Len who trained trotters for a hobby. We lived in rural Taranaki, where my parents owned a big sawmill, and ran a small beef and sheep farm. I learnt to ride there on a plump pony called Princess, but driving trotters was what I really loved to do. So it was a great thrill, finally, to begin driving fast work with Dad when I was just twelve. A hard-earned reward, after much practice doing the long, slow jog work, sometimes with five horses at once, one in the cart, one on each side and two on the lead behind. Quite a handful.

My fascination with photography came from my maternal grandfather, Danny, and his sons, Leo and Colin. They were hobby photographers but their wonderful slideshows were a joy to watch. Their beautiful images, moments in time frozen forever, convinced me I wanted to be a photographer too.

I began snapping images around our farm with a small box brownie, progressed to a Kodak instamatic, then when I was 18 bought my first SLR, a Fujica ST701 a beautiful little camera which delivered a spectacular improvement in image quality. I still have the Fujica and still used it up until only a few years ago, when work requirements forced a switch to digital. A small Nikon Coolpix 5400 provided a trusty and reliable introduction to digital photography, but I now use a Nikon D300, a far more complex camera capable of exceptional quality, and I rarely go anywhere without it.

My love of writing came from my mother and her mum. Their weekly letters, written to me when I first left home to train as a photo technician in Auckland, were a lifeline to me. They made me recognise the power of the written word and that I wanted to become a journalist.
I have been lucky in my career so far to have worked fulltime for the New Zealand Harness Racing Weekly and The Press newspaper (twice). I now do freelance work for both these publications, and others, combined with harness racing promotion work. To be able to combine my love of horses, photography and the written word, promoting harness racing is a real pleasure.

Although Nevin wasn't interested in horses when I first met him, he was converted after an exciting trip to Greymouth, his hometown, in 1995. Our trotter Hadrian was an acceptor for the races there at Victoria Park.

I trained Hadrian, and often drove him myself, but was unable to get time off from my work at The Press to make the Greymouth trip. However Nevin, who also worked at The Press as a journalist, was able to get leave. So with help from the Lilley family, and a wonderful drive from Debbie Rickerby, Nevin took Hadrian to Greymouth and brought him back home a winner. Very exciting for all of us, and a special thrill for Nevin.

It might aswell have been the Dominion Handicap at Addington for all we cared. The smiles on our faces were just the same.

As anybody who has ever trained horses knows winning races is one of the hardest things to achieve, which only serves to make it all the more exciting when things do go well.

Hadrian was a lovely trotter to train and drive. Once we sorted out his standing-start glitch he became a very fast beginner and won four races for us, one when driven by me, at Rangiora, two for Colin De Filippi at Motukarara, and Debbie Rickerby's win with him at Greymouth. He also had many placings and was great fun to take to the races. He's 24 now, the equine elder statesman in retirement at our place but still as bright as a button with two cheeky young fillies and a bossy-britches broodmare chasing him around.

Promoting harness racing is a dream job for me. So, it was a special pleasure to photograph and promote the beautiful Tupelo Park yearlings, prepared by Sarah Crawford and Mandy Chesmar, for the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch sales, and a huge thrill when they achieved top price on day one of the 2010 sale and again this year. It was also a pleasure to photograph and promote the exciting young stallion Christian Fire, and his amazing first foals, in his first two seasons at stud.


Site Menu
 Home | News |
Current
About Us | Photo Gallery |
Harness Racing

Kidz Kartz |
Gallery
French Racing |
Tracks | Memorial | Contact | Links
Profiles   Life  
2014 Yearling Sales Portrait  
Archives   Animals  
    Image of the Week  
    Reasons to love Canterbury

© Shelley Caldwell photo journalist, 2011. All rights reserved.
Website design and maintenance: Rural Web Design