Black background images are the perfect statement piece for your home, office, or barn and they add a professional touch when advertising your stallion. However, these elegant, simple, and impactful images are less forgiving than a typical portrait session and require a little more effort in preparation.

After photographing hundreds of these images at several locations, here is what I've learned...

Preparing Your Horse

Because your horse is the main focus of these images with no background to draw the eye away, s/he must be impeccably groomed. If you show your horse, simply prepare him as if you are headed to a show. If not, here are a few suggestions:

  • Any clipper work should be done at least three days in advance to allow harsh lines to grow out.
  • Bathe your horse the day before and blanket him if necessary to keep him clean and shiny.
  • Manes and tails should be touched up the day of your session, including any braiding.
  • Touch up white marking the day of the session. Baby powder works wonders!
  • Shine enhancers can be used, but make sure they are brushed in well and your horse is completely dry by the start of the session, as any streaks will be apparent in the final images. This applies to fly spray as well!
  • Hoof black, lacquers and oils give a polished, finished look to your image. However, it's better to leave the hoof dry/natural than to quickly apply a sticky hoof conditioner just prior to the session (the moist conditioners attract dirt and debris).
  • Oils should be used sparingly, if at all, on the face. A clean, non-oily face will look more natural in the final image.
  • Keep a rag handy during the session to wipe eyes and noses.

Don't forget the fly spray!

(After extensive retouching)

Preparing Yourself

As you know, grooming your horse is no easy task. Grooming your horse AND getting yourself ready for photos might be impossible. Be sure to have help the day of the session for any last minute grooming/cleaning tasks so that you can focus on getting yourself prepared.

  • Pick your outfit days/weeks before. I recommend your show clothes or dress clothes for black background images.
  • Be sure your boots are polished.
  • Keep your hair and make-up natural.
  • Drink plenty of water and get lots of rest the day before your session.
  • Remember to enlist help as needed.

Keeping your hair and make up natural will help you feel comfortable in front of the camera.

Accessories and layers add interest to your outfit.

Preparing Your Tack

Choosing the tack your horse will wear is completely up to you and the look you'd like to achieve. As you may have guessed, all tack must be extra clean, oiled and well-fitting.

  • If using a halter, leather looks more timeless/classic than nylon. Rope halters can be used, but please take care ensure they are properly fitted.
  • We will start the session with the least amount of tack (for instance, halter, then bridled and saddled).
  • If using your bridle, be sure to clean the bit corners. These are often overlooked and you'll be surprised at the green slime that gets stuck there!
  • If saddled, be sure the saddle pad compliments your outfit.
  • What about boots/wraps? If you have a performance horse, these can complete the look. However, I do not recommend them for conformation or advertising photos.

Tack should be clean and well-fitting.

Leather looks timeless.

Preparing the Facility

Good new! You don't need a beautiful showplace to have stunning images. All that I require is a three-sided shed or barn to ensure proper lighting. If you have any questions about whether or not your facility will work, please contact me and we can determine the best options for your location.

  • Clean floors are imperative. Sweep concrete floors thoroughly before the session and keep the broom handy the day of. If we will be on a dirt floor, rake away debris and smooth out the surface. If floors are an issue, we can focus on head/shoulder shots and leave out the floor altogether :)
  • We will be using the doorway to the barn (or opening of the shed) and move the horse further inside or outside depending on the light. Keep this in mind when tidying and preparing your facility.
  • Don't stress too much... I try to achieve the black background naturally in-camera. However, I can work some Photoshop magic if needed.

When the dog gets out, the dress gets wet, the horse doesn't cooperate... I'll still do my best to capture amazing images for you!

The understated elegance of black background images make any extra time grooming, cleaning and preparing well worth the end result. With a little extra effort, your session will yield beautiful artwork that you can treasure for years to come!