Bug’s Portraits | Southampton, NJ and Session Prep Tips

horse on black background

Bug and his mom Kerstin win the award for “shiniest and most well-prepared for their black background portrait session”. Bug was SPOTLESS. This guy is hysterical – he has such a huge personality and is so dang sweet – it was so much fun making these portraits with him.

So while we’re on the topic of shininess and preparedness – let me share with you my top 6 (yes – 6 – I had more than 5) tips for black background portrait session prep! Trust me on this – if you spend the time beforehand to properly prepare yourself and your horse, not only will I be much happier (and who doesn’t want a happy photographer?!), your photos will be better and the entire experience will run more smoothly.

  1. Make sure your horse is either turned out, worked, hand-walked or hand-grazed before our session. I know you’ve spent hours bathing and grooming your horse to absolute perfection, but finding a way to get out a little bit of energy before the photo shoot is a huge help. We’re going to ask him/her to stand perfectly still for a few minutes at a time – even I get fidgety after a few minutes! So a light lunge before your session or some turnout in a light sheet or rug are good options.
  2. Speaking of grooming – do as much as possible as early as possible! You want your horse to be clean AND dry for your session – make sure you leave plenty of time for a nice leisurely air dry (perfect time for some hand grazing).
  3. Feed a light meal or snack before our session. I realize this may result in a sloppy face covered in grain, but a damp towel should take care of that quickly enough. I mean – if you ask me to stand still for 15 minutes and I’m really hungry, it’s not gonna be pretty – assume the same for your horse.
  4. Whiskers – to trim or not to trim? That is the question. And it’s totally up to you – I don’t personally trim my  horse’s whiskers because he lives outside, but if this is something you’re comfortable with, go ahead and trim the day of the shoot.
  5. Tack. Inspect your tack – it should be spotless, including the bit. Every little detail will show up in these photos, so if there’s gunk on your bit and your noseband is a little crooked, you will not be pleased with the finished product. I do my best to inspect each horse before I take their picture, and you should do the same.
  6. And last but not least – use hoof grease or polish – clean, shiny hooves really make these images. It’s the little things – the little details – that really make these images special, and gorgeous shiny hooves go a long way in doing that.

That said – here are the photos from Bug’s session. He and his mom were such a pleasure to work with – I’m looking forward to more sessions with them in the future!

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