So I do it the easy way.
When you are photographing to sell, less is more. A neutral, uncluttered background is best. The step is deep enough that I can move my horse far enough from the edge to get the wood grain out of focus. It makes a great background for minis, and that part of the yard is usually in the shade all day, which evens out the lighting and eliminates distracting shadows. I can't say that the rock garden is terribly comfy, but since I tend to get itchy if I lay in grass it's not a bad deal. I can run out with my pony, snap the pictures, and head back in; no muss, no fuss, no fidgeting with lights.
|Reminds me of the graphics they put on the football field when they broadcast games...the designer in me obsesses over those!|
Sometimes that spot isn't the best choice - it gets direct sunlight in the late afternoon/evening, and the trees in the front yard aren't thick enough to completely diffuse the light in the afternoon. My alternate is best in the morning, too, actually, but I can usually find some shade with this set up.
Paving stones. Yes, the two different colors bother me, but since I scrounged for them I'm really not going to complain. I snapped the photo in bright sunlight just to give you an idea of the arrangement, but I usually photograph this set up in the morning or under the shade of the huge maple that's about five feet away. When taken under the right conditions, they turn out pretty well.
There's a lot of information out there about taking pictures for the hobby, including a how-to for your own Stablemate size light tent by Leah Koerper of Shoestring Stable and a great comprehensive blog post by Jaime Baker. The basics remain the same photoshowing or selling: even lighting, avoid shadows, focus on the horse. Obviously the front step is not a solution for anything larger than a Stablemate, but really all you need is a neutral (avoid very dark and very light), uniform surface without major variations in color.