I hope you had a wonderful weekend! I’m still very much enjoying Canada, but I wanted to share the process behind creating my oversized photographic equestrian artwork in the maroon guest bedroom with you. These works turned out so beautiful and they’re really special to me. They were also surprisingly easy to create… it just takes a keen eye for design, knowing the right local shops, and some easy installation tools. Today, I’m sharing the entire process… from taking the photos, designing the art, having them printed & framed, and eventually installing them in our guest room. I’m breaking down the cost as well. Click through for the details and a peek behind the scenes!
Obviously you’ll need photos to begin, and as it turns out- I took these horse photos over four years ago. I was combing through old photos, when I came across one Emmett took of me riding his horse, Derby, over a decade ago. It was summertime, I was wearing a sundress, and we hopped on the horses (bareback) to ride them to the pond for a quick dip. Fun fact- our hoses enjoy swimming with us. Anyway- Emmett snapped a photo while we were riding out, and it’s one I love but had not seen for years. It got me thinking- casual photos of friends on horses on could be really beautiful when cropped in the right way. Being a Juniper artist, this idea came at the perfect time. They had just called artists asking for new artwork submissions, and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get creative with my camera.
I began the process by digging up some inspiration. This was still when we lived in our previous home, by the way. I pulled pretty black & white images as inspiration. I kind of had a Ralph Lauren equestrian aesthetic in mind. I called up my girlfriends and asked if they wanted to have a fun day modeling on horses for me. Although they’re not riders, they are good friends and said yes. Ha! Unfortunately, mine and Emmett’s horses live on our family farm back in Kentuckiana, so I also had to find a friend who was willing to let us borrow theirs. Once the logistics were taken care of, the fun began!
I styled my friends and had them hop on the horses while I snapped away with the camera. I wish I would have kept more behind the scenes photos because it was a hoot! They were great sports and did such a phenomenal job- we had a blast and made some good memories.
Once back home, I sorted and edited the images, selecting my favorites and removing the saturation for that high contrast, black & white look I was after. I submitted a bunch to Juniper, but they passed on all of them. I’ll admit, I felt a little defeated and tabled the project, not having an immediate place to install them (in our small previous home). Shortly after, we ended up selling our home and moving into our current house. I knew I wanted to install the photographs as art, but wasn’t sure where. Fast forward to a few years later, here I am- working on the guest room and it occurs to me this would be the ideal spot for my equestrian photos!
I knew I needed large scale artwork to fill the negative space in the window nook, so I scaled everything out on my computer in Adobe Illustrator, mocking up the walls, mat, image, frame size, and even the gallery lights. Once I had it designed, I sent the photos to my local photography printer (Nichols Photo Studio, if you’re local) to have them professionally printed. For four photos, the professional photographic prints cost around $100 with tax.
After picking up my photos, I immediately dropped them off at the framer and made frame selections. Want to see my two top picks? I was trying to decided between a simple black textural frame and a greek key option…
Ultimately, I landed on the black frame that better fit my budget because the scale of these works ended up being a bit costly (for a DIY). They’re large 32″ squares, so each one cost around $150… and I had four. I (impatiently) waited for my art to be framed and finished, so I could wrap up the guest room.
They barely fit in the back of my car when I picked them up, but I was so happy with how they turned out! I carefully lugged them inside and dug out our tools for installation.
To give you a better sense of scale, I asked Emmett to hold one. They’re BIG. I love the look of the oversized mat, with the print swimming in negative space.
Our framer gave us a finishing nail kit for installation, so that’s what we used. We made quick work of it with the laser level. My previous planning also helped, as I had already designed their hanging height and mapped out the position. I had it all planned and it took about 15 minutes to attach all four to the wall.
This is the image that sparked it all… me on Derby, riding to the pond on a hot summer day (pictured below). I’ll admit- I had to get creative with cropping the image because during my art school days- I wore entirely too much eyeliner and experimented with dark hair dye. I do think the pulled in version feels more editorial & interesting though, despite my questionable beauty choices.
I selected my three favorite images I shot of my friends to create a complete set of four for the guest room- all cropped in a similar way. My friends, Brooke & Chelsea, are pictured on the opposing wall…
Obviously if you’d like to frame photos you’ve taken, it doesn’t have to be a big ordeal or photoshoot. You could use family photos, snippets from your travels, a hobby you’re passionate about, or blown up photos taken from decades past. Don’t worry if they’re grainy, not excellent quality, or have imperfections… that adds to their character.
I took quite a few photo classes during my time in art school and one of my favorite exercises was called “Top 10 of the Week”. We were expected to carry our cameras around for the duration of the class and each week we were expected to take 50 photos, then narrow down and share our top 10 with the class- as well as why we selected that particular batch. Each week we focused on a different skill: exposure, composition, white balance, etc. There’s something to be said about challenging yourself to get creative with your camera (or phone!). When it’s constantly on us, we have the ability to capture really beautiful moments on a whim. I’d encourage you to give it a try- you never know what you’ll come up with or which images will end up being your favorite. I’m glad Emmett was carrying my Nikon that day in the field on the way to the pond.
I also think the frame and mat can really elevate the look of artwork or photographs. These frames offer such a nice contrast, simplicity, and the right amount of texture for this room. I think the scale helps the window dormer feel more integrated with the rest of the bedroom. Oversized artwork definitely felt like the right move for this space.
I think these images and compositions feel special to me for many reasons. Obviously you know I’m very into horses, having grown up on a farm. 4-H was a big part of both mine and Emmett’s life, and riding is something I’ll always want to do more of. Who knows- maybe someday we’ll have our own farm and horses to care for again. I do think there’s something really amazing seeing my close friends on the walls of our home. These women mean so much to me. They’re strong, passionate, driven, caring, are incredible mothers, the list goes on. I like when art makes you feel or has a connection of some sort- and all four of these works do that for me.
Do you have photographic art in your home? What are some of your favorite photos you’d consider hanging in your house? I’d love to hear your thoughts on my equestrian photos, and as always- I’m happy to answer any questions about the process in the comment section below…
PeggiFebruary 20, 2023 at 6:25 am
Good morning! What a wonderfully fun and nostalgic project! And such a game group of friends. (I’m slightly intimidated by horses myself.) I love the close-cropped, black & white images, and I adore the frame. (My favorites are rarely the cheaper option…) Oof, those darn framing costs can really add up, especially when you think you’re doing a simple DIY. The scale and high contrast are perfect for the nook though and so personal. I can imagine the loving energy they bring to the space. Your “Top 10 of the Week” assignment was stellar. Such a great exercise for encouraging practice and honing your eye, and so easy to replicate now that we’re all glued to our phones. Fun fact, my honey has a Fine Arts degree that included many photography classes (back when that involved hours in a dark room!). His first Valentine’s gift to me was a framed group of his favorite shots. 😍 My photos rarely match my vision, but that doesn’t stop me from taking them. Ha. I am hopeful we’ll get to see some glorious images of Canada in the near future; your photos never disappoint. Enjoy the rest of your trip and safe travels home, Gibsons!💜🎿
SarahFebruary 23, 2023 at 12:27 pm
Thank you, Peggi! My friends are the best… always game for an adventure or trying new things. They were such good sports and we had a fun day! I think framing is half the equation when it comes to cool art. I always enjoyed my photography class Top 10 assignment. It’s definitely an easy thing to do with phones these days- and those cameras are arguably just as good as large SLR cameras. I didn’t know your honey has a Fine Arts degree- so cool to learn that!! I’m gushing over your Valentine’s Day gift- so so thoughtful. I just think it’s fun to be creative, whether the shot turns out as expected or not, the process is always a good time. Hope you’re staying warm today! xo
DannaFebruary 20, 2023 at 8:16 am
Happy Monday! I have never really thought about taking an existing photo and closing in on it like you did with these. I love close photos of horses, dogs, flowers. You have good friends who were willing to get on a horse & a great eye for taking pictures. The frames and size are so pretty in that space. Sarah, the photo of you riding bareback is special. Such a horse lover at heart.
Hope your trip is going well and getting lots of skiing in. Have a great week!
SarahFebruary 23, 2023 at 12:14 pm
Hi Danna! Thank you so much! My friends are the best- always willing to help out or try something new. I will always love that photo of me riding that Emmett took.. it was such a fun day. We had the most wonderful trip. I’m already looking forward to our next Canadian adventure someday. It’s stunning!! xo
DannaFebruary 20, 2023 at 8:17 am
I meant to say you have a great eye for taking pictures…very talented.
LaurenFebruary 20, 2023 at 8:37 am
The story behind these prints is so special. I adore the entire project. Your photography skills never cease to amaze me, and you’re right, this large scale works so well in the dormer space. I feel like the placement was key for really pulling in you in, and you and Emmett did a tremendous job. The frames you selected definitely reflect the sweet sentimentality behind these photographs as well, and I think it’s darling to have such bespoke prints in an area you enjoy spending time when the room isn’t in use. I don’t know much about photography but photographs like this have always captivated my attention. Perhaps I should challenge myself to snap more photos. This little project turned out so beautiful Sarah! Enjoy the rest of your Canadian fun and safe travels home friend!
SarahFebruary 23, 2023 at 12:12 pm
Thanks, Lauren!! You are so sweet. I’m really excited with how the window nook came together and I think the art plays a big part of that. I vote yes to snapping more candid photos- you never which ones will turn out to be your favorite :) Our phones are really the best tool we have- and they’re always attached to us. Canada was so lovely and wonderful, thanks Lauren!! Hope you’re having a good day. Are you having crazy weather in CA this week?
LaurenFebruary 23, 2023 at 9:10 pm
Crazy doesn’t begin to describe it! It’s been snowing all day- schools throughout our district are shut down. We had a 20 car pile-up on the freeway just east of my house, due to icy road conditions…and those slightly northeast of me are in my prayers- they’re in the path of flooding from the burn scar, and we’re all under severe flood watch until Saturday. It’s snowing in cities it hasn’t snowed in since I was a little girl- but I’m not complaining. I love every second of it! I’m nursing a little one with double ear infections and taking all the extra snuggles.
SarahFebruary 26, 2023 at 10:37 pm
Oh yikes- I’m so sorry to hear about the CA struggles in the northeast… this weather has been insane. We’re getting SO much snow, so I can only imagine what it’s looking like in your area. I hope there wasn’t much flooding over the weekend. Also thinking of your little and hope the ear infection has cleared!
ColleenFebruary 21, 2023 at 5:30 am
Your DIY art Sarah is gorgeous! I can’t believe Jupiter passed on those photos, they are stunning. I’m so glad you incorporated them in your home and they fit perfectly in the guest bedroom nook. Sounds like you had the most wonderful day with your friends and turned that day into the prettiest gallery wall moment ❤️ This type of art is the best and I love how they were framed. When the art is personal like this I think the frame should be simple and unfussy. I love everything about your selection, scale, matte and the black and white photos are my favorite 😍
I have quite a few stunning photos of my daughter and her horse captured over the years and they are always my favorite. I have been accused of having a shrine in our last house as I had so many 😬 so I tried to pair it down in our current home. Horses make the most beautiful art don’t they? And paired with your favorite people is quite frankly priceless. Thanks for sharing these beautiful memories and the framing process you chose. The art is spectacular 🤩 I hope you are having a fantastic time in Banff! Xoxo
SarahFebruary 23, 2023 at 12:03 pm
Thank you so much, Colleen! I’m really happy with how they turned out and am glad I was able to find a fitting space for them. We definitely had a fun time that day! I’m a big believer that good framing is just as important as the artwork itself. Sometimes simple is best! I love that you have so many beautiful images of your daughter and her horse. Shrine looking or not- framing special moments like that is what makes our home a home. No judgements here! Horses are my favorite so maybe I’m biased- but I also think they make the best art. Banff, and Canada in general, was the most amazing. I couldn’t get over the views and how incredibly nice everyone was. I’d love to go back in the spring or summer.