Fine Art Sessions (also known as black background sessions) are the perfect way to showcase the beauty of your horse and get some seriously amazing wall art. I absolutely love the creativity that they inspire. There are a few things you should know prior to your Fine Art Session – grooming your horse, getting your horse mentally prepared for the session, cleaning the entryway, enlisting help, and letting stress go.
1. Get Show Ready
Get your horse prepared for your session like you would a show – bathe them and braid or band their mane and tail if that’s what you would like to see in your photographs. Don’t forget about the hoof polish! A little bit of baby oil on their muzzle and around their eyes brings in a bit of extra shine. Have some rags handy to clean off foamy lips – we’ll be using treats to get some of the poses.
Another part of being show-ready is having the headgear – be it a bridle or lovely leather halter – polished and ready to go. If you prefer the ‘naked’ look, I have a photography halter handy for us to use.
2. Stretch it Out
Speaking of posing – practice some stretches at home before your session. Practice “carrot stretches” such as bringing their chin to their chest for a few seconds, chin to elbow, and chin to the ribcage.
Don’t forget to teach your horse to stand still for about 5 minutes at a time. Horses are a bit like toddlers – they don’t know why we’ve taken them away from their friends and they don’t understand why they have to stand still for forever. (quoted directly from my seven-year-old son).
Fiddle with their feet. Unless your horse is a seasoned show horse, they might not know how to stand still. We’ll manually adjust them, or get them to shift forward and backward to get the desired look.
3. Keep Things Clean
Have a broom handy. I like to photograph Fine Art Sessions in barn aisleways or arena entryways. Once I do a walk around and find out which area has the best light, we’ll likely have to tidy the area a bit – moving bins and distracting items and sweeping the floor so that there won’t be as many distractions to photoshop out.
4. Enlist Some Help
For me, photographing Fine Art Sessions is a three-person job – the photographer, the horse handler, and the ‘happy ears’ sound maker/entertainer. Buy your sound-making assistant some lunch or margaritas afterward, they’ll have earned it!
5. Let That Stress Go
Don’t expect perfection from your horse, they don’t know why we’re making them stand this way and that, and why on earth they’re stretching around again and again. Stubbornness will happen. Slobber will happen. We’ll take a break, everyone will have a snack, and we’ll give the pose a go again. Photo sessions are supposed to be fun, not stressful!
I hope these 5 tips have helped you out. I look forward to working with you and your horse to create some seriously stunning artwork!