Black background equine portraits. You've probably seen them floating around the internet, or simply seen the option in my equine photography packages and portfolio. But what exactly are they and how are they created?
For me, despite being a lover of natural backdrops, unposed moments and horses in motion, equine portraits with a simple black background have always made a special impact. They bring full focus to the animal we love and know. Every detail from that shiny coat and silky hair to that special marking you'd recognise anywhere, any day, or perhaps a unique eye colour, these images are truly built to show off your horse in all its unique beauty. In creating them I take on a more posed, detail-oriented approach as in my other, more spontaneous and candid work. I hand edit every single image to be a complete work of art, ready to be displayed in your home. This is why I also include a Fine Art Print with each of my "Tale" and "Novel" Equine session. Your horse so deserves that spotlight!
There are probably as many ways as there are photographers for creating these images, many of which I have tried and learned. Typically as much of the image as possible is created in camera, either by using a black backdrop and studio lighting or a location such as a barn isle or an indoor arena entryway to find a location where natural light falls softly into shadows, creating a naturally dark backdrop. In most cases, a lot of work is also done afterwards in Photoshop, filling in the background and perfecting those highlights and shadows that bring out your horse's best features.
Personally, I like to be prepared for all locations and situations. My main priority is always making sure that the horse is comfortable during the shoot, which is why I choose to avoid using artificial lighting. If the horse is relaxed, I make use of a backdrop system with a black backdrop. This allows for even the images of horses with long, flashy manes and tails to look drop-dead gorgeous and natural. However, if your horse is feeling a little apprehensive of such additional props, I am well prepared to create equally beautiful images with a more stripped down setting and some more post-production work. Either way, an indoor location such as a barn or an indoor arena is required for these images.
During the shoot, we will be going through a set of poses to create a variety of images of your horse. In order to ensure a happy experience for everyone, it is important to have an additional set of hands helping. Ask your friend, partner, or relative (who is familiar and comfortable with horses) to join the shoot, either holding the horse or getting their attention to the right place using peppermint wrappers, a mirror, or other small props I will bring with me to help in directing your horse.
I will always set aside plenty of time for the session in order to set up the scene and allow for your horse to get acquainted with the setting, avoiding any stressful situations for everyone involved. On your part, leading up to the session it's a great idea to carefully wash and groom your horse, make sure they are not shaved right before the shoot (allow at least three days in between so that any stripes have time to grow out), clean their hooves (oil only if you can make sure there will be no dirt stuck on the oil) and consider braiding their mane, of course taking their breed and your preferences into consideration -after all, the end goal is for you to love these images! If you choose to use tack (leather halter/bridle), make sure they are clean and polished as well. If you would prefer for your horse to look as if they are in liberty, there will always be the option to do so by using a specifically designed halter. This is something I will bring with me to each session. Finally, it can be helpful if in the weeks leading up to your session you spend a little bit of extra time doing groundwork, making sure that your horse feels comfortable standing still when asked -even when the handler takes a few steps away.
Once the images have been taken, I will get to work in Photoshop and within 14 days, create a beautiful gallery for you to choose your favourite images from. Once you have received the gallery, you will be able to choose an image of which you would like to receive the included Fine Art Print. This will be sent to you in another two weeks time. Through your online gallery you will also have the option to purchase additional prints and products of your favourite images -perhaps even compile a gorgeous album for your coffee table. This package is the perfect way to freeze in time your favourite equine friend and I cannot wait to be a part of capturing that beauty for you!
Book your Fine Art Equine Portrait session here.
You will receive a PDF preparation guide and checklist in your email before your session!