Black Background and Studio Equine Portraits Explained

by Lotte Simons
21st January 2020

What’s the difference between black background portraits and studio portraits?

Black background equine portraits have become ever more popular. Having produced many myself for clients over the years, it’s clear to me there is a misconception as to how they’re created and how they differ from studio portraits.

How Are Black Background Portraits Created?

A common misunderstanding is that it’s simply a cut and paste job. Taking any photo, cutting around the horse and painting in the background with a solid colour. However, whilst it might receive tweaks in post production to refine the overall aesthetic, for the most part these images are photographed in situ.
Typically positioning the horse at the entrance of a building where daylight reaches them, (or can be reflected back) but falling away before touching the surrounding scenery. As the photo is correctly exposed for the horse, the building behind is heavily underexposed and creates this appearance of a solid black background.

How Are Studio Portraits Different?

Put simply, studio photography utilises artificial light sources rather than natural daylight. This is beneficial because there’s far more control over how a subject is lit and the ability to replicate a style consistently.
Relying on daylight has far more limitations as to how it can be utilised, particularly if the light conditions are not favourable on the day of your shoot to begin with.
This control over how an image is lit also provides versatility to lighting set ups, meaning limitless options for developing a unique photographic style.

Which Is Better?

What makes a good photo is entirely subjective and depends on personal tastes and preferences. Artistically speaking however, I find great satisfaction in creating portraits in the studio. I’ve personally found these images to have a little more depth of emotion and a more polished feel. With the smallest change having a huge impact on the overall photo. Often the finest details have the capacity to hugely alter the image, simply adding a rim light can be the difference between a nice portrait and a stunning one.
Whilst I still enjoy capturing the more traditional black background portraits, studio photography gives me and my clients the opportunity to get really involved in a creative process and curate a photo from the ground up.

Studio Portrait – Fames Dakota – SPSS/AHS Breeding Stallion

Interested In Booking A Fine Art Photoshoot?

Until January 31st 2020 i’m offering 50% off studio sessions, making this package just £125 for a limited time. If you would like to commission your own fine art equine portraits, more information can be found on my services page with further examples available in my portfolio. Please contact me for more details and to arrange a photoshoot.


Capturing the life, heart and soul of horses.
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