The session is usually done with just natural lighting from the entrance to a barn aisle or indoor arena. Depending on the location, I might also set up some black backdrops to block out any additional background lighting, this is attached to the barn sides of the alleyway. Everything else is edited out with Photoshop for the final image!
TIPS: Clean the area next to the entrance to give the widest opening possible. Remove distracting or miscellaneous elements from the barn aisle. This will help with decreasing editing time after the photo is taken. Also, have a broom handy to sweep the bar aisle between shots if needed.
Preparing Your Horse
Before the Session: Spend some time hanging out with your horse in the location where the session will take place so they will feel at ease spending time there.
Day of the Session: Relax your horse! If you are able, ride your horse the morning of your shoot date. If you don’t have time to ride, you can also lunge them before you start getting them ready. This helps get out that extra energy so they will be calmer in front of the camera.
Plan to give your horse a bath on the day of the photo session but give enough time to make sure they are completely dry before the session starts. Horses with lots of dirt under their coats tend to appear dull in photographs. Pay attention to the head area, as that is where I’ll be focusing - clean around their eyes, nose, muzzle and ears. If you show your horse, simply prepare him as if you are headed to a show.
The horse is typically photographed in a bridle with the reins removed and a lead rope attached to the bit (which will be edited out in the final image
TIP: Keep a towel, brush and fly spray nearby.
Getting Your Tack Ready
The choice of tack is entirely up to you depending on the look you want from the finished image - just make sure that prior to the photo session, your tack is cleaned and shined.
TIPS: Leather halters provide a classic look rather than nylon. I can also bring a thin, rope halter with me if you'd like a naked look to the finished image.
In these types of sessions, the majority of the images are headshots, but we still will see the top line, shoulder, chest. I will usually bring a variety or wreaths to choose from but you can also provide your own! In addition to a wreath or garland, you can choose to add other holiday-themed accessories. Craft stores and online equine merchants have many options available. Look for colorful ribbons, holiday garlands, and ready-made horse holiday apparel such as Santa hats, sleigh bells, and reindeer antlers.
TIP: One of the best things you can do to ensure a good holiday image is to practice! Spend some time desensitizing your horse to holiday-themed props.
What to Wear
- Families: Don’t be matchy-matchy! Instead, choose complementary colors
- Avoid busy patterns, they don't usually photograph well.
- It's also a good idea to try adding layers to your outfit to provide visual interest.
- Don't forget the accessories! A necklace, bracelet, or ring can add interest to the overall look.
- Very Important: Wear horse safe shoes.
- Neutral tones and colors match with every horse coat color! Soft pastel colors come across really nice as well as bold, jewel-colored tones.
- Lighter colors are best for dark horses to contrast their coat. White, light pastels, icy colors, even light vibrant colors work well.
- Bay horses: bright jewel tones like pinks, reds, blues, and purples
- If you have a chestnut or Palomino, go for complementary colors in shades of blue, green, aqua, teal, royal blue, navy, hunter green, shades of purple like violet or plum.
- If your horse is brown, Buckskin or Paint, try dark blues, greens, and reds.
- Stay away from extreme dark colors like black, you could fade into the background!
Ready to book your black background session?
Now that the weather is warming up, your horse will be soon be shedding its winter coat. Short and sleeky hair is perfect for these fine art portraits. For more information and to book your session, click here.