Danielle Long with her horse at the National Championship in 2013. (Ellen Jackson | Photographer)
Long has a passion for art and photography as well. (Ellen Jackson | Photographer)
At just about any Auburn equestrian event this year, there is a brunette running back and forth between the rings or crouching under a fence trying to capture a good angle of the competitors with her camera.
She is wearing the same tall boots and uniform of the Western riders.
Her name is Danielle Long, and she wears the boots and attire because she is an Auburn equestrian rider, as well as the team’s photographer.
Long took on the extra role of taking her teammates’ pictures her sophomore year, and the only time she puts the camera down is when it is her turn to compete for the Western team.
Long found her passion in art and photography approximately the same time she got her first quarter horse at the age of 8 years old.
Growing up around the horse-riding industry in Alaska, Long said she knows what to look for in her photos, which will eventually make their way to the teams’ Facebook page or the Auburn athletics website.
“Her photos are great,” said head coach Greg Williams. “My wife says she could take a hundred photos of the same thing Danny takes one of, and Danny’s is always better. Not just the quality, but Danny has a way of always seeing an angle, a light, something different. It’s just the eye of a photographer.”
Long’s passion for photography stems from a condition she has called autism spectrum disorder. ASD is classified as a neurodevelopment disorder, which is impairment of the growth and development of the brain or central nervous system.
People are usually diagnosed with ASD in their early childhood.
People with ASD can have a wide range of symptoms, which can include deficits in social communication and repetitive patterns of behavior.
The senior majoring in fine arts was diagnosed with ASD her freshman year after extensive tests were performed through Auburn’s psychology department.
Many people who have ASD use their creative abilities as a means of communication and find it to be therapeutic, according to Long.
“It is a very meditative and stress relieving thing for me,” Long said. “I look for certain things. I love just being able to capture these random moments.”
Jennifer Delman of the hunt seat team said all her teammates try to get in Long’s photos.
“It just kind of brings us all together,” Delman said. “That’s kind of a role that no one before her had and she kind of created it on her own and took initiative. It’s something we really enjoy.”
Delman said she fills in as the photographer when it is Long’s turn to ride in the events.
“We always have a joke about how when she puts pictures up on Facebook you can always tell which ones I took and which ones she took because hers are always so much better,” Delman said. “I know after meets I’ll keep checking Facebook to see when Danny is going to put the pictures up because they are so nice to look at.”
Long said her favorite equestrian moment was taking photographs when Auburn equestrian won the National Championship in 2013.
Long was taking photographs at the other end of the arena in Waco, Texas, when former teammate Cheyenne Cracraft sealed the championship against Georgia in a ride-off competition.
Long said candid is her favorite type of photography now. She enjoys it because people have no idea she is shooting them.
“One of my favorite things is to see people be happy about something I took and noticed about them,” Long said.
Whether this season ends in another national championship or doesn’t go the way the Tigers want it to, the Auburn equestrian team will have Long’s photographs to look forward to at the end of the meets.