‘Life is like a box of chocolates’. Obviously Forrest Gump was referring to life in general when he said this. But, the same goes for photographing pets. You never really know what to expect.
My own bundle of furry joy is Rocky. Many of my clients have met Rocky as he accompanies me on ‘netwalks’ – an ingenious combination of networking and walking. He has his own characteristics and behaviours which he only really shares with Josie and me. To the ‘on-looker’ he may appear to be a small laid-back chap, but those who know him – really know him – know that he’s a feisty so and so.
Getting to know Mitch
I was delighted to be asked to take Mitch’s photograph last summer, a beautiful Border Collie. So, what do I know about this breed of dog? Well, I know from what I have read or heard from others, that they are intelligent, agile, focussed and hard working. I’ve been a dog owner for most of my life, so I know that these traits are just the start. What the dog is like as an individual is anyone’s guess. Until of course, you get to meet them and talk to their owners.
Mitch certainly was intelligent, agile and focussed. He was also full of fun, highly curious and loved his favourite toy. Capturing all of this is what makes a pet portrait so special to the owners. It’s the unique and quizzical way he slants his head, the way he pricks his ears when hearing his name and it’s the way he holds his toy.
This is what makes Mitch unique.
The importance of making a pet feel relaxed
I think pets pick up on the fact that I’m an animal lover. They relax and feel at ease in my company. Without them acting like themselves quite frankly I’d be stuffed! If I didn’t have a Doctor Doolittle effect on them, every pet I took a photograph of would just look startled. Not the look anyone is after!
Once Mitch relaxed in my company he was off doing his thing in a place he loved and knew well – perfect. The camera and lens are used to being vigourously sniffed. This enabled me to concentrate on his eyes and his expression, work out where the best light was and encourage him there. A relaxed pet will always ‘do their thing’ and it’s ‘their thing’ that I have to capture.
One of the most fun things for a pet photographer is to reward and motivate. This ‘no costs attached’ payment includes stick throwing, the giving of treats, cuddles or a quick game of tug of war.
And the most rewarding part for me is showing the owner the photographs and hearing the words, ‘wow, that’s OUR Mitch’.
Don’t you agree, he is a handsome chappy?