Donna DeMari: Classy Equine Photography

Long time horse lover, Donna DeMari, has been pointing her camera at her equine friends around the world for a while now. Her fashion photography has graced the pages of the most prestigious fashion magazines, like Italian Vogue, French Marie Claire Bis, British Elle, Ralph Lauren and many more. I was thrilled when Donna agreed to do an interview on #equinearthour on Twitter this past Sunday. Her equine photography reflects a classy, stylish feel, the kind of style you would expect adorning the walls of Ralph Lauren’s show rooms. Which, by the way, is where several of her fab equine photographs are!


Donna DeMari

Location: New York, USA

Website, Twitter

Donna began her self-taught career as a fashion photographer in the Milan, Italy. She bought her first camera when she was 18. Inspired by photographer Sarah Moon, she took her first trip to Milan at the age of 19, which jump stated her career when Toscani, another photographer, who encouraged her to shoot fashion. Donna spent a few  more years in New York before moving across the pond and living in Milan, Paris and London for 15 years. Now, she has returned to her home in the states, continuing to shoot fashion while adding horses to the mix.


Donna’s job took her anywhere and everywhere-from Australia to Bali and Hong Kong. After returning to New York, Donna became the first woman to shoot the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, shooting in Bali and Hong Kong in 1995 and Costa Rica in 1996. She was even featured in the ABC television special “The Making of the Swimsuit Edition”, and the focus of a special segment on VH1 Fashion Television, which explored her views as a female fashion photographer.


Donna was on #equinearthour this past Sunday, and I was thrilled to interview her!

TFS: Hello & welcome to #equinearthour, Donna! Would you tell us a bit about yourself?

DDM: Thank you so much for having me! I have been a fashion photographer and horse lover most of my life! Luckily I found a way to combine both passions together.

TFS: How long have you been around horses? Did you always want a career with them?

DDM: My father first put me on a horse at 5 years old and it was instant love. I was torn but the camera won out. I photographed horses when I had the opportunity but that was not always possible traveling for work.


TFS: What inspired you to start photography? Do you/your family have an artistic or equine background?

DDM: My father was extremely artistic but it seems more destiny on my end to discover the camera. I moved to New York at a young age and decided to become a fashion photographer. Riding horses on the weekends.

TFS: Would you tell us more about your fashion photography? How did you get involved in the industry?

DDM: I always loved fashion growing up but the decision was a spontaneous one!
I approached one of the biggest modeling agencies at the time and loved working with the models.


TFS: What was it like when your started your career in Milan, Italy?

DDM: Very exciting as I began working quite quickly for publications such as Vogue and Elle & Marie Claire.


TFS: Have you ever done photo shoots for equine fashion?

DDM: Yes, actually! And I also have done many editorial shoots with horses. At the time I was shooting fashion I took photos of horse in my free time just to be near them.

TFS: What caused you you to start photographing horses again? Do you still work in the fashion industry?

DDM: After spending 20 years in Europe I returned to the States, living in the Berkshire Mts and buying a horse. I was asked to have a gallery show and wondered what work I to present. I had shoebox full of undeveloped film.


TFS: I read that you’ve traveled the world to photograph fashion. What has been your favorite location to photograph in?

DDM: That’s difficult. I loved living in Europe especially Paris. But have a new love of India and their horses After years I processed the film. All horses shot while I lived in Paris. Still some of my most favorite images.


TFS: What are your tips for setting up your own photo shoot?

DDM:  The same for both horses and women – always search out the softest light.

TFS: Any wise words for other aspiring photographers?

DDM: Never give up. Always believe in your dream and follow your passion. Focus on the journey ,not the destination.


TFS: Can you tell us more about your photos? What sizes do you print?

DDM: My horse images range in all sizes. I can print at home 16×20. Ralph Lauren has printed some wall size. Working with Ralph Lauren is truly a great honor. My horse photos travel more countries than I do now 🙂 RL contacted me about 5 or so years ago. I was asked to make a presentation -shaking in my riding boots 🙂

TFS: What has been your favorite photo shoot?

DDM: Tough question because I love what I do so much I approach my horse commissions the way I shoot for a magazine.The more creative the story – horses or fashion – the more I love it.I love new challenges with both! My favorite shoots were for Italian Vogue and Marie Claire. But ALL horses capture my heart and inspire.


TFS: Where can people see your work?
DDM: My website: , Staley Wise Gallery NY and Jeanne Chisholm Gallery in Palm Beach.
TFS: Would you tell us more about your books & equine books and did you self-publish or do you have a publisher?
DDM: Excited and nervous but it went amazingly well. They loved my work. One of the highest compliments to me. I published 5 books with renowned author Laura Chester including Eros & Equus and Heartbeat for Horses. They were published by Willowcreek Press who also published my book on my two labs -Luke and Forrest. I am working on a new book of never before seen images of the Marwari horse in India.
TFS: Have you ever photographed horses at any iconic places, like the USET Headquarters in Gladstone NJ?
DDM: Not yet although I would love to. I have shot some of the country’s greatest show horses though.
TFS: Any tips for authors? 
DDM: Fully believe in your work.Something often hard for artists but it truly is the key.
Thanks for letting me interview you, Donna! Can’t wait to see and read more about your new book.

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