Barbara Thomson was born and raised on a sheep and cattle farm in the central North Island of New Zealand, some 25 miles from the nearest town, Hastings.
Her equestrian career began out of necessity, riding five miles, usually bareback, to school. With her sisters, she often rode fourteen miles to hunts, fourteen miles home again. Barbara reached the top level in Pony Club and became an instructor.
Sharing her father’s interest in photography, Barbara worked in a photographic studio for two years after she graduated and, when she married her husband, Tom, an Air Force officer, she started working as a freelance equestrian photographer. Over the past forty-five years Barbara has created Thomson Photography and her high-class work, focussing on the New Zealand scene now appears in equestrian publications worldwide. As a member of the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists and Photographers, Barbara has been accredited to most Olympics and World Championships since 1986. Her archives are unique.
Aside from regularly contributing sponsorship to events, Barbara’s other horse interests include membership of a thoroughbred breeding syndicate, a racing syndicate, and she has sponsored numerous riders, including Blyth Tait and Heelan Tompkins. Barbara currently has shares in three eventers, sponsoring promising riders and horses – ‘I can’t imagine life without the challenge of getting that extra-special shot in the arena, and the thrill of owning good competition horses’.
In her early days, Barbara used Leica cameras inherited from her father; loaded her own cassettes from bulk film; and invariably turned the laundry into a temporary darkroom for developing, enlarging and printing. She now uses Canon gear and digital technology for everything.
Footnote: Barbara passed away on the morning of 21 February 2017, at a favourite fishing spot near the Waitahanui River, Lake Taupo.