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Susie’s Session

Location: Llangennith

Time: 6:30pm

Susie’s humans were gifted a dog photography session and artwork credit for Christmas, but with covid restrictions we were only able to arrange her session in May (I’m a tad late with the blog update…as usual!).

We met at Hillend carpark at 6:30pm and headed straight for the beach as Susie was raring to go. She has got to be the biggest (fluff)ball of energy that I’ve ever met – she was literally itching to get going. I usually like to try and get some portrait shots done before we let loose on the beach as the dogs are the cleanest they’re going to be for the rest of the session; we managed one or two quick shots of Susie, but the excitement of being on the beach was just a tad too overwhelming for her, so we let her loose to run off some energy. Susie is very much an all action/adventure dog, and the images from her session really show that! She loves the sea and once she was off her lead she belted it down to the waters edge.

dog photography session of a cockerpoo having fun on the beach in Llangennith

After some time playing in the sea and chasing her ball on the beach, we managed a brief moment of calm for some more posed shots. For dogs that are a bit more energetic and sometimes distracted on location I like to pop them back onto their lead for the posed shots and then edit the lead out afterwards. We used this technique for the latter half of Susie’s session, it really helped to regain her focus and resulted in some beautiful portraits of her. I especially love this one of her posing on some driftwood with Worm’s Head in the background.

cockerpoo photographed on driftwood at Rhossili with Worm's Head in the background

We were beginning to lose the light to some cloud cover, so called it a day not too long after this shot. I’m pretty sure that Susie enjoyed herself at her session, and we got some beautiful images for her human’s to treasure.

If a photography session for your dog is something you’ve been pondering over, then give me a shout. I shoot on location around South Wales and also in the studio.

Teddy in the Studio

Teddy the chihuahua came to the studio a little while ago for his portrait session and I may have fallen just a little bit in love with him. He’s such a sassy little dude and absolutely bursting with personality. He may be tiny, but what he lacks in stature he makes up for in style!

Chihuahua photographed in the studio on grey and turquoise backdrop

I think Teddy may well be the smallest dog I’ve photographed, which presented its own unique challenges. If you’ve had a session with me then you’ll have seen me executing some yoga moves to get as low as I possibly can to photograph the dog from the most flattering angle. Ideally I’m aiming for eye level or lower, which is kind of difficult when the dog is about the same size as the camera! I think I spent most of my time lying flat on my stomach to get the best angle for Teddy. But we did cheat a little and popped him up on my cool retro chair for some stylised shots, this not only helped to elevate him (and save my back), but also added some really nice curves and textures to the images.

Chihuahua photographed on a white chair in the studio

I always give my clients background colour choices for their studio session. I’ve got a good collection of colours ranging from greys through to bright yellow and also a selection of pretty pastel shade too. Initially Teddy’s human opted for grey, which is a lovely classic yet modern choice – it also works well with her colour scheme at home. But I like to add a little bit of variety so will usually encourage clients to choose an extra colour as well. Teddy’s human went for a lovely turquoise as her second choice, and I’m so glad she did as it worked so well with Teddy’s colouring. The turquoise was a big hit with Teddy’s human too and it was one of the turquoise images that she chose to print as her big framed acrylic.

The final wall piece that Teddy’s human chose – his little tongue is almost always poking out

Studio sessions are based out of The Retreat Canine Hydrotherapy centre in Llansamlet, Swansea. If you’d like to book a session for yourself, then please just give me a shout.

Session Tips: My Dog Isn’t Obedient

This is probably the biggest concern that most of my clients have when they book their session:  they’re afraid that their dog will be the worst behaved dog I’ve ever met.  And I can say, hand on heart that your dog, no matter how naughty you may think they’ll be, is never that bad.  But honestly, whose dog is 100% obedient all of the time anyway? Mine certainly isn’t.  As good as Dexter is, he still has his stubborn moments of wanting to do his own thing…but that just adds to the charm doesn’t it. Rest assured, I’ve photographed many, many dogs and I’ve never failed to capture beautiful images of them for their human family, no matter how obedient (or not) they are.

I won’t lie, it is useful if your dog has a reliable recall, a solid sit and a good stay, however it’s not, I repeat NOT, an essential ingredient to achieve beautiful images.  There are always ways to work with each dog’s personality type and training level to capture them at their best.

Patience is always the key when it comes to working with dogs.  And it’s closely followed by a plentiful supply of treats (the stinkier the better). Bribery goes a hell of a long way and you’ll be surprised what your dog will do for some prime foodie treats or toys.  I can pretty much guarantee that any of my photos you see of a dog looking longingly into the camera would have been achieved by a rather fine balancing act of me holding either a sausage or a toy in one hand and the camera in the other.  I’ve always been a firm believer in positive reinforcement training, so once the dog has done what I’ve asked, he gets his reward – whether that’s the chunk of sausage, or a throw of the ball.  And guess what that means?…he’s more likely to want to pose again the next time.

pug cross photographed with a wide angle lens

close up head shot of a brown and white spaniel against a yellow background in the studio by Mucky Pup Photography

 

Sometimes there may be moments where it’s not safe for a dog to be off of his lead, whether that be because he’s too young, doesn’t have a reliable recall or maybe the area we’re shooting in isn’t suitable or safe for a dog to be off lead.  This is where  a bit of Photoshop wizardry comes into play and I will edit out any sign of a lead in the post processing stage.  It’s always useful to have the starting image set up in a way that makes it easier to do the editing afterwards, so at this stage in the session I tend to get a little bit bossy and will probably ask you to hold the lead in a certain way and stand in a particular spot.  But it all helps to create that final perfect image.

Just to give you an idea, all of the images below were photographed with the dogs on their leads.  Freddie the cockapoo was actually standing on a small roundabout in a caravan park and Merlin the deerhound cross was posing beautifully in front of Brangwyn Hall, which is on a particularly busy road.  So for their safety, both of them needed to be firmly on their leads.  Whereas Hank the gorgeous cocker spaniel was a bit of a flight risk so he stayed on his lead for the entire session.

Freddie Cockerpoo in the wildflowers at Llangennith

portrait shot of a deerhound standing against ornate green doors at Brangwyn Hall in Swansea

Cocker Spaniel photographed on lead compared to the edited end result

So, if you’re thinking that you’d like a session with your dog but are a little bit concerned that they won’t behave themselves, you really don’t have to worry.  There are ways and means to work with your dog to achieve amazing images.  And patience, treats and Photoshop magic are always in plentiful supply.

Sali & Holly

Sali & Holly (the border collie girls)

Location:  Kilvrough Woods & Llangennith

Time:  4pm-6:30pm

Sali & Holly have had a studio session with me previously; Holly was just a pup at the time and she fell asleep mid shoot, sitting upright in a chair.  She has the most A M A Z I N G  ears, which looked far too big for her body when she was little, but she’s grown into them magnificently.

Sali & Holly’s human won a competition for a session and decided this time that she’d opt for a location session.  We’re so blessed in Swansea to have so many beautiful locations to work with, so we decided to try to squeeze in two different areas:  firstly the woods in Parkmill and then the beach at Llangennith.  This session was taken back in August of last year (I’ve been awful keeping the blog up to date recently!), when the sun was shining and the evenings were still warm.

Sali & Holly are amazingly behaved collies, though Sali likes to shout when she’s being told what to do, but she does have the mort expressive face.  I’ve never met such a chatterbox dog before.  We had a little walk from the parking field to get to the woods first and then we had an explore.  There’s a lovely little river that trickles through the woods with some old stone wall jutting out into the middle.  The girls posed perfectly on there for us to grab a quick couple of shots to begin with (you can tell that Holly decided that she’d have a play in the river before the photos, as her fur is wet, whereas Sali is nice and dry).  Then we ventured a little further into the woods and the ferns, which were a lovely vibrant green.  I do love to try to incorporate a bit of foliage into my location images, I find that it adds a bit of depth and added interest.

I try to mix up my lenses a bit at each session.  I like to try to get a variety of shots with each lens as they all give a different feel to the images.  I’d been using my 50mm lens for the more close up images of the girls, but decided to swap over to my wide angle for a shot of them together on the wooden bridge over the river.  I just loved the light coming in through the trees from behind the girls and the lush greens.  Thankfully so did their human, and this shot of them together was printed nice and big on a metal wall piece.

Finally, we hopped back in the cars and had a little drive to Llangennith for the girls to let off some steam on the beach.  This meant Holly had a crazy run around after her ball (typical collie style), and Sali, who’s a little bit older, had a casual stroll along the shoreline.  I really do love that shot of her with all the seagulls in the background.  I find that the quality of the light at the beach can change dramatically within a few minutes, especially in the evening.  We arrived at the beach close to 6pm with the sun shining brightly and unhindered by clouds,  which makes for perfect action photo conditions.  Then a little bit of haze appeared, which meant that the light was so much softer, giving a very delicate feel to Sali’s shoreline stroll.

Sali & Holly the border collies in the woods at Parkmill and Llangennith beach on the Gower Peninsula in Swansea

Henry

Location:  Llanmadoc

Time:  7:30am

 

It was an early start for Henry on a pretty glorious morning last Summer.  Fast becoming one of my favourite places, Henry’s humans opted for Llanmadoc for their location session.  We did originally think of venturing up over Llanmadoc hill, but instead opted for the woods and the beach.

When we got down to the woods, a tree had either recently fallen or been chopped down next to the path.  Henry being the rugged dog that he is had no problem jumping up onto the tree to pose for some photos (ok, maybe sausage bribery was involved, but only a little bit).  I really loved the way Henry struck a pose on the log, he looked ever inch the adventure dog.

As we ventured through the woods, the thing that struck me most about this gorgeous boy was the way his colouring changed so dramatically depending on the light.  In the shade, he looked a lovely rusty orange, but as soon as the sunshine hit him, he was almost luminous.  Henry himself was also a bit of a goofball, the number of faces he pulled was insane.  But he also instinctively knew how to strike a pose, and the image of him appearing from behind a tree is my absolute favourite from his session.  He looks so dramatic, his coat is shining beautifully and his orange colour contrasts so lovely with the greens of the ivy on the tree.  I’m so glad that it was one of his Humans’ favourite photos too and the one they chose to have printed large on aluminium to hang on their living room wall.

We walked through the woods and over the dunes onto the beach to capture some images of Henry in action.  It was quite a warm day so we didn’t over do the action section of the session and made sure to have water breaks and a stop to play in the sea.  Although Henry wasn’t in the mood to stray too far away from his Human so that meant they were both having a stroll in the water.  A slow wander back up through the woods brought an end to Henry’s session.  Before Covid restrictions, we might have stopped off at Cwm Ivy Cafe for a cuppa before heading home, but it wasn’t to be this time.  Hopefully we’ll be able to do it again some time soon.

 

Hungarian Vizsla in the woods and on the beach at Llanmadoc Gower

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