Beyond The Backdrop

I often get people asking me how I go about making a photostory and to be honest, my answer is probably not exactly what they were hoping for.

You don't need a fantastic camera to make a photostory, nor incredibly realistic backgrounds - all you need is a bit of imagination and a lot of trial and error! Hopefully this little post will show you just how easy it is to make a photostory, and how woefully disorganised my 'studio' space really is!

Oh Noes!
Oh Noes!

I rarely start with a story already written as this just leaves spaces for inconsistancies. You might come up with something whilst shooting that has nothing to do with the original story and thus, you've wasted time typing out something that isn't going to be used. I often just tack up the horses and bung them in front of a background and just start shooting - a story usually presents itself within a couple of minutes. Sometimes I do plan ahead, but never on paper unless I'm away from the computer. It's all 'up here' *taps head*

Strangely enough I often get inspiration whilst listening to my ipod when I'm doing the washing up. I've no idea whether its the sheer amount of boredom or something to do with the soapy water but some of my best ideas have come from that!

There comes a point in every photostory when *someone* decides to fall over.

My main setup is of course, the famous stableblock. (I have a second one now, courtesy of eBay) When not in use, they sit either side of my desk, unfortunately taking up precious space but I have nowhere else to keep them at the moment.
My latest setup is the indoor livery stable block - all flatpacked so it can be put together and taken down again in minutes.

The 'Studio'

My desk is usually in a state of total disarray; not unlike the scene of an explosion, with random objects strewn across the area...

For photostories like In The Dark of The Night, the lighting effects couldn't have been simpler. Above my desk I have an anglepoise lamp and all I needed to do was turn off all the lights in the room, close the curtains and turn on the lamp.

When visiting my local garden centre a few years ago, in mid to late december, I stumbled across a fantastically gigantic castle calender for less than a pound. This explains why Duneachann Castle was created - to try to get away with the fact that there's almost always a castle of some kind in shot!

I use my indoor arena setup the most I think. All it consists of is a doll's house self adhesive carpet stuck onto a thick sheet of card, (the 'sand') a long strip of balsa wood with thin card panels glued to it at regular intervals and a big piece of cardboard for the backdrop with a couple of signs stuck on.

Backing Simba

My other school setup is the outdoor arena. It's one of my simplest and very easy to make. All it is, is a large calendar photo for the background, the same 'sand' arena from before and some fencing made from balsa wood. Now, you may have noticed that there is nothing seperating the background from the base but that is deliberate. At the yard I used to ride at, the school was raised off the ground to help with drainage and behind the fence were large telegraph poles to help hold it up. This is the look I'm trying to replicate although I'm not quite sure how well it worked!


Trotting on Declan

I try to use the outside world as much as possible but my back garden is on a slope and makes a photoshoot very difficult, as well as having lots of very out of scale plants. Luckily, my grandpa's house up north has a huge, flat garden, made up mostly of lawn which I take advantage of as much as I can whenever I go up and visit.