Before heading out to photograph the practice round for Chukkers for Charity 2014, I brushed up on what I didn’t know about polo player Nacho Figueras. I figured he gets a thousand questions about the sport, his history with it and his career as the face of Ralph Lauren’s men’s fragrances and Black Label apparel, but he was in Nashville to support of one of my favorite charities, Saddle Up!, and I wanted to ask him about other things.
In addition to being a literal globe-trotting father of four, he has a fascination with architecture and is also an accomplished artist.
The Argentina home he and his wife, photographer and former model Delphina Blaquier, made for their active family of six is filled with both of their beautiful art, classic furniture and tons of natural light. It is a great reflection of who I found them to be, during what felt like a private polo match, on a muggy Friday afternoon.
When asked about his favorite architect, Nacho told of his fascination with Mies van der Rohe, evidenced by some of the furnishings in their South American home, and sited the Seagrams building in New York as a favorite. When I asked if he’d visited any of Mies landmarks in the Chicago area. His answer surprised me.
I’ve never been to Chicago.
After a Linda Blair head-spin and a Scooby Doo WTF?, I gave him a quick list of places to see, discovered we have a mutual appreciation for Santiago Calatrava, and realized one of the 10 therapeutic riding centers in the Chicago area is missing out. Somebody should get on that PDQ.
Hey, Horse Feathers. You’re in Lake Forest. Your fundraising team should hook you up with a local polo club, tout suite. Get on the Figueras’ calendar, then hook them up with a private tour of your city’s amazing architecture. Win-win, I say.
Anyway, Nacho’s current obsession is in the final stages of construction, the stables at his ranch in Argentina, Cria Yatay. He said he considers his horses to be “art” (he has over 400 works), and his instructions to the architect––pardon me for forgetting his name, I’m 100––included the direction to make the stables a “gallery” worthy of their beauty.
You can see the influence of Mies in this recent photo from Cria Yatay:
Their oldest son, Hilario, plays polo too, so I had to ask Nacho if he gets nervous seeing hard plastic balls hurled towards his kid at speeds of up to 100 miles an hour, while riding a horse moving at close to 50 knots.
His answer came with a slight right tilt of his head…
No, but she does.
She is Delphina, long limbed and lovely; just a year older than my first child. Her 4 equally attractive children range in age from 14 to almost 2. As we spoke about their hectic schedule, I realized I’m old enough to be her mother–OUCH!–and remembered how challenging it was just to shepherd my brood around the grocery store, much less around the world.
The instinct to curl up into the fetal position on the polo field was strong.
It takes a village for predominately land-based people to raise a family. These two are in the air all the time, the kids travel with them when they aren’t in school, and it’s obvious they have a great support team that allows them to get where they need to be and do what they need to do.
I experienced a momentary flash of wistfulness, a wish that passion and purpose were so clear to me at their age, then acknowledged and quickly moved past it. Besides, I could see that they were in need of a nap even though their day was far from over.
Later that evening, they were scheduled to attend an exclusive dinner purchased weeks earlier by patrons for another charity event, the 2014 Swan Ball, and still had to show up with bells on for the polo match the next day. One can only imagine what their calendar looks like.
Small talk with strangers when I’m wide awake and in a great mood takes effort. After a day of travel and practice in +90º heat, this couple needed to get dressed up and make nice with 10 new, well to-do friends.
I thanked them for the chat, then thanked my lucky stars for the pajamas and big pile of fluffy pillows awaiting me at home. That night, while they enjoyed a lovely evening with locals, I pulled together a few of shots of the practice match from the comfort of my bed.
I used a few tried and true techniques, but their polo practice was also practice for me. I wanted to see if anything I’ve studied about sports photography sunk in. The light was really harsh that day and it was at least a million degrees with 110% humidity. It was a challenge to adjust settings on the fly and keep my lens from fogging up. I’ll say this though: Panning is fun.
Mr. Figueras is in the yellow jersey and white pants:
A few days later, I designed a room around Nacho’s custom made boots:
I swear, it’s true. I’ll share it soon too.
Until then…trot on,
ABOUT ROCHELLE CENTER
Rochelle Center, founded in 1972, is a non-profit agency offering outcome-based day supports for adults with developmental disabilities as they strive to be self-reliant in our community. Meaningful day supports provide continuing personal individualized training in the areas of self-determination, communication, recreation and sensory stimulation in The Developmental Supports Program. The Production Center offers employment opportunities both on and off campus with individual job training and skills as they progress along the continuum to Supported Community Employment and eventual independence. More information can be found at www.rochellecenter.org.
ABOUT SADDLE UP!
Saddle Up! is Middle Tennessee’s oldest and largest organization offering equine assisted activities and therapies, and it is the only one exclusively serving children and youth with disabilities. Our mission is to provide children and youth with disabilities the opportunity to grow and develop through therapeutic, educational and recreational programs. Saddle Up! operates year-round and offers our foundation program of recreational therapeutic riding, physical and occupational therapy, equine facilitated learning, the Saddle Up! Equestrian Club and multiple workshops/seminars. Saddle Up! deeply appreciates the support of our donors, event sponsors and event attendees whose generosity helps keep Saddle Up! the place “Where all children are equal in the saddle.” More information can be found at www.saddleupnashville.org.
For More Info Contact: Susan Andrews, The Andrews Agency; 615-242-4400, Susan(at)andrewspr.com