The photo essay is posted at KLM Images.
This is a just-published essay from an event of a few months ago. There is a 4-day pack trial of basset hounds where several hunts come and compete in various pack formations (3-couple, 5-couple, 7-couple) actively hunting rabbits and being judged for hunting effectiveness. This particular essay is the second day, with the 3-couple (6 hounds) competition. Day 1 is published here; days 3 & 4 will be available here & here.
At any time during the course of the day, there may be one pack just finishing hunting and exiting the hunting area, one pack beginning to hunt, another pack waiting its turn, and yet another pack out taking some exercise. The participants largely know each other and have done this for many seasons, so they are not confused by the activities, but a photo essay sampling all the activities in order can’t help but be bewildering to less knowledgeable viewers compared to, say, a foxhunt.
Without referring to the event schedule, the folks who were there want to know which hunt they’re looking at. I provide 2 levels of guidance: metadata identifying each hunt, which helps with searches, and a reference to the hunt in the title of the first photo for their mini-section of the essay, so that viewers can tell when the scene changes.
Though there is hunting activity to film and even the occasional rabbit chase, I find that these pack trials are largely extended portrait sessions.
There are many sorts of portrait opportunities. At the most obvious level, there are portraits of hound packs, with their huntsmen and staff.
Unlike following a hunt to which I belong, where I would have many opportunities all season to get formal pack shots, these events are one-offs. They may be the only occasion that I see some of these distant hunts, so if I miss the shot, there’s no recourse.
These events are reunions for the regulars, and they enjoy seeing striking pictures of each other as souvenirs until next time.
And then there are the animals, without which none of this would be possible.
The hounds are the stars, naturally, and their personalities are much on display. Getting a group of different individuals to act as a pack with a single purpose under the guidance of a huntsman is one of the constant miracles of this sport.