Denis at Burry Port

Denis’ Dog Photography Session at Burry Port

Location: Burry Port Harbour

Time: 7am

Burry Port is fast becoming a favourite place for my dog photography sessions. Denis’ Human has already had a studio session with me (which Denis absolutely rocked by the way), but decided this time round that she wanted a session in one of their favourite places.

Everyone must know by now that my favourite time of day for location sessions is either early morning, or late evening. With summer well on its way, and beautiful weather forecasted, we figured that early morning would be our best best as it would likely be a lot quieter than closer to sunset. So we met at 7am in the harbour, with a cloudless blue sky above, and started our adventure.

First things first, we headed on to the beach as the tide was well on its way in and I knew I wanted to make use of the wet sand to try and get some reflections of Denis and the lighthouse. I hadn’t realised how fast the tide comes in at Burry Port, and whilst lying prone on the ground, camera up to my face and concentrating purely on Denis, I didn’t quite register the yells of “Sarah! SARAH!!!!!” quickly enough and may have gotten slightly soaked by the incoming tide. Luckily, I’ve got my priorities straight and managed to hold the camera up in the air in an almost yoga-like pose (except lacking any kind of elegance!). I always get covered in dirt or sand at a session, and I’m glad I did again this time, because I love the series of shots of Denis on the beach.

wire haired fox terrier on the beach at Burry Port

Next, we made our way up onto the path and made fools of ourselves trying to get Denis to pose nicely in amongst some wild flowers. Then we headed over to the Lifeboat Station, which is constructed of beautiful sandy coloured stone. The sun was so bright at this point (even though it wasn’t even 8am yet), that we had to swap over to the shady side of the station to stop Denis from squinting. I spotted some wooden bollards by the station and wanted to try a perspective shot of Denis peeking out between the bollards. Luckily Denis and his Human indulged me and this has ended up being the image that will be printed nice and big on aluminium.

wire haired fox terrier in wildflowers and peeking through bollards

Lastly, we were focusing on Denis and Burry Port Lighthouse. We wandered to the edge of the harbour wall and got some shots of Denis standing across the water from the lighthouse. Then we walked round the harbour to get a much closer view of the Lighthouse. I love the low angle view with all the grass in the foreground and Denis looking so proud. We called it a day not long after this as the sun was getting stronger and we could really feel the heat intensifying.

wire haired fox terrier at Burry Port with lighthouse in the background

If you like what you see and think you’d fancy a session with your dog, then please give me a shout.

Every Day’s a Learning Opportunity

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” – Benjamin Franklin

Every year I dedicate time (and money) into furthering my knowledge and skills. I feel that it’s really important to not become stagnant and to always push myself to improve, whether than be on the business running side of things, or the creative artistry. So far this year I’ve attended courses on finance, marketing and (most excitingly) have been taking part in a six month long pet photography challenge with other pet photographers from around the world. Every fortnight we’re given a new challenge with a specific brief that we have to shoot towards; this helps us to think more creatively and critically as photographers. All the submissions are judged by two of the most well known and admired pet photographers in the world; they whittle them down to the Top 20, and then the final Top 10 are decided from those.

We’ve just passed the halfway mark (6 done, and 6 to go) and I’m ridiculously chuffed to have placed in the Top 20 for 5 of the challenges, and gone on to place Top 10 in 4. I should really have been blogging these each fortnight, but I’m useless, so you’ll just have to have a six month round-up instead.

Challenge 1 – Colourific

The brief for this was to photograph a dog in an area of bold colour, but keeping colour harmony in mind for the final image. I was lucky enough to be photographing Teddy the chihuahua at the time of this challenge and his human very kindly agreed to extend his studio session a little and joined me on a quest for colour around Swansea city. We found a fantastic wall full of colourful graffiti, popped Teddy up on a box (because he’s so small) and shot away. The image below didn’t make it into the Top 20/10, but I’m still really happy with it as it really pushed me out of my comfort zone. You can have a browse of the amazing Top 10 entrants, if you fancy.

chihuahua photographed against a graffiti wall in Swansea

Challenge 2 – Get Down

The challenge was to shoot from a very low angle, ideally with the camera on the ground. This challenge was right up my street to be honest as I spend a lot of time in my sessions lying down in the sand/mud in order to get the shot I want. I was lucky enough to place in the Top 10 for this one with this image of Susie the cockerpoo walking towards me with her ball in her mouth:

black cockerpoo running with a ball in mouth on th ebeach at Llangennith

Challenge 3 – Composition 101

This challenge was all about symmetrical and centred compositions, with both the dog and the scenery showing elements of symmetry and the dog centred in the frame. I used Dexter for this challenge and had a plan that involved getting up at 5:30am and heading off to a reservoir for an early morning session. However, my car had other ideas and decided to throw a wobbly on route. So we settled for a stop off at Penllergare Woods instead and managed to take this shot of a slightly wet and bedraggled Dexter on a stone bridge, which placed in the Top 10 for the challenge.

wet border collie lying on a stone bridge

Challenge 4 – Dogscapes

This has been my favourite challenge so far, partly because I love shooting dogs in a natural landscape, but also because I used an entirely new technique to get the final image (this will form a blog post all of its own shortly). The brief for this challenge was to photograph a dog within a natural or man-made landscape showing features of that landscape to give a sense of place, while still featuring the dog as the main subject. This was another early start featuring Dexter. We ventured up to King Arthur’s stone at about 6:30am and managed to capture the below image. I was super lucky that the weather was playing ball with dramatic clouds and also beautiful morning sunshine breaking through. This image placed in to the Top 10, and is probably one of my favourite shots of Dexter.

border collie sitting on a rock at King Arthurs Stone on Gower

Challenge 5 – Up Ups

This involved photographing a dog elevated up off the ground on something and shot from below. I combined these last two challenges together and got a close up, wide angle shot of Dexter standing on the stone. It’s not often that I bust out my wide-angle lens – I really should use it more often. This image placed in the Top 20, but didn’t make the Top 10.

border collie standing on a rock at King Arthurs Stone on Gower

Challenge 6 – Soul Searcher

This challenge was to capture that quintessential “puppy dog eye” look. So the brief was to shoot from a high angle looking down at the evenly lit face of the dog and attaining precise focus on the eye. Again, I used Dexter for this one. He loves to play “peek-a-boo” where he pokes his head between your legs so I knew I wanted to try to get this as my entry. It was a little bit difficult because I’m so short, so I had to hold the camera above my head and hope that I was aiming in the right spot, luckily I was and managed to capture this shot of him, which I’m really chuffed to say placed in the Top 10.

border collie looking at at owner

I’ve really been loving these challenges. They’re helping me to think outside of the box and to analyse what makes a good image. I can’t wait for the next six now! I’ve linked all of the Top 10s in each section, so if you’ve got five minutes you can go and have a look through them all at all of the wonderful submissions.

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.