I have set a goal for myself this year to achieve 50 dog portraits, this is partly because I want to work on my skills as a pet photographer and enter into photographic competitions but it is also a tribute to dogs!! All dogs and their amazing qualities and the big role they play in our lives – I feel strongly about this and thought a little blog post would be in order to explain what I mean! And to get people involved, do you feel the same? And would you like your dog to feature in my ’50 dogs’ work? I want to photograph the dogs but I would also love to hear their story – how did they come to be in your family? What are they like? What do they like and what do they hate? Funny habits? Personality? Get in touch and let me know!
What does your dog mean to you?
My dog is my fur baby, she is like the youngest child 😊 But she is also my best friend and my walkies partner – how many times a week would I go for a ‘proper’ walk if I didn’t have a dog??? Once maybe.. if the weather was good.. And I felt I had time… And I had a bribe good enough for the kids.. Basically I wouldn’t go out exercising very much at all and we all know how important a bit of fresh air is!
When I say she’s the youngest of the kids, that is sometimes what it feels like – without the falling out of siblings.. Apart from the occasional destroyed sock when she was a pup, they don’t fall out with her.. She’s their best buddy, she gets them out without moaning, she teaches them responsibility and respect. She is definitely a part of the family! We decide where to go on holiday depending on where you can take dogs… We cut a night out short so she doesn’t have to be alone for too long..
Dogs are so many people’s lifeline, especially during the last 2 years and countless lockdowns. They are part of the family, they get us out and keep us going. They tune into our needs and they slot perfectly into their families. They have the ability to cheer you up and they come and sit with you quietly when you need it. They are our little superheroes!
So get involved, tell me about your dog and I’d love to feature him or her in my 50 Dogs project!
Award-winning – what does it mean and does it really matter?
With a new year just starting, new beginnings and all that, I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on last year. A super tough year for all, but still so many positives to take from it.
When I started my dog photography I also joined The Guild of Photographers. The Guild is a fantastic national association for the development and support for photographers everywhere. I wanted to be able to surround myself with likeminded photographers for inspiration and to push myself to get better.
With the Guild you can submit your work for assessment and progress through their membership levels which is a way to measure and evidence your skill level, as well as show your customers that you are committed to providing them the very best service.
The Guild also run a monthly competion, the IOM. Members submit their images and the entries are then assessed by a number of highly experienced Judges who grade them in accordance with international judging criteria, and the higher scoring images are given Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards.
I was a bit lucky and managed to get a Bronze in my first entry so I thought ‘ok, great. This is not as difficult as they say…’ Ha! How wrong I was. The standard is absolutely sky-high!! And the expectations of the work submitted also! It is a really really hard! And time consuming. But for me, it is a fantastic measurement to see if my work is good enough and to push myself to get better and achieve better results.
In my first 9 months of entering the IOM I have achieved 4 Bronzes and 1 High Bronze. But equally important, the other 40 images I submitted ALL scored ‘Classified’ – which means ‘Images of a standard worthy of acknowledgement relevant to the genre entered but which are not deemed award winning at national competition level. In many cases it is possible that with one or two small tweaks these images could have scored even higher’. A professional standard image! For me that is a brilliant measurement that the images I create are of a professional standard! But saying that, this year I am aiming higher!!!
So in conclusion, the award winning part is maybe not as important to my clients as it is to me personally, I want to have goals to work towards and I want my work judged and know that I am on the right path to improving my images. But saying that, as a client you now that the images produced are of a professional standard and you can be sure of the fact that I will go above and beyond to achieve the very best work I can for you! There are no half measures of short-cuts, this is what I do and I am putting my heart and soul in to my work!
20 January 2021
When I started out in February last year I didn’t expect to have to close again within a month due to Covid. In my head I was all set for studio portraits of dogs, with consistent lighting, background of my choice etc etc. What instead happened was I had one month of shooting what I had planned, then 4 months of staying at home with no work at all. When I could finally start again I had to re-think as I couldn’t open my home studio so instead made a little outdoor studio – that meant I could control the background but not the light.. or the weather.. 😅
But still, we made it work and I had some amazing doggie models and their humans come to help me out. This set-up worked for a couple of months but with the weather turning colder and slightly more unreliable (let’s face it, it’s never really reliable in this country..☔) I had to re-think again.
At this time I was also taking an online course with Hair of the Dog Academy which was all about finding your style by going outside your comfort zone. So I started shooting outside!! That felt, at the time, like a big leap, very much outside my comfort zone and the results were not great to start with… but with perseverance and my trusty, ever-suffering model (read ‘lots of treats involved’) I am getting closer to where I want to be. And I am actually enjoying the whole new world of creating natural portraits and the different editing techniques it requires!
Going into 2021 I will focus equally on studio and natural outdoor dog photography, something I didn’t even consider at the start of last year! It is amazing how adversities make you grow and up your game! I am really looking forward to keep training and practising and getting better this year. And yes, models will be required once restrictions lift… 🙂