In this second part of a review of my favourite images from 2019 I’m turning my attention to those shots taken during either horse or dog photography sessions. This was always ALWAYS going to be a really difficult blog for me, far more than the commercial version from Part 1. There’s a huge difference, emotionally, for my clients between brand photography and animal portraits, which I’m sure you’ll all probably agree with. Of course photographing products or services for Brands will also entail times where clients have dealt with blood, sweat and tears over what they do and produce. They’ve spent years developing and carving a business for themselves, so those photographs truly matter.
However, have you ever crossed a little old lady when she tells you she has the best terrier in the world.
Those that I’ve selected are not necessarily my favourite animals, let me get that straight. I’ve chosen them for individual reasons relating either to the composition or the feeling the photos gave at the time I took them. As with Part 1, these are not listed in any particular order…
I totally promise this.
The first is from a session in late spring with Hannah and her childhood pony Jack. Within minutes of meeting Hannah and her mum Maggie on location I was blown away with the news that the year before Hannah had gone through a kidney transplant. Over the course of the next hour or so the pair told me the whole story. However, we went way before the kidney situation and started right at the beginning and how Jack had come into Hannahs life, because you know what, that was why we were there… From childhood and into adulthood this pony has been Hannah’s partner in crime, she’s faced a lot at times because she always had Jack to fall back on, even just to listen to the constant chattering from him when anything else was a physical effort. As with many transplant stories the road was never smooth and patience for the patient (and those around) was a huge necessity, but something that as a family they all coped with and ultimately got through. Family support and learning to compromise at times are frequently the way to great results. The photo I’ve selected reminds me of the pair of them walking off together to face whatever comes their way.
The second photo in this blog comes from a shoot that had been a long time coming. Through various poorly children and horrendous weather the planned session with Chrissy and Cadbury took a few dates to finally happen. Everyone who was connected to this shoot was eagerly awaiting this session and when it did take place one gorgeous summers evening. Even that night the transport when haywire so I stepped in a towed the trailer myself. Something I never get involved with but we were all utterly determined this was going to be the perfect evening. Turns out it was and it was just so much fun! Chrissy, myself and Alice (my frequently present right hand woman at shoots like this) laughed a lot, there was something about that evening that shook off a whole lot of ‘meh’ in the world and this photo of the pair of them together with the backdrop of Ham Hill’s monument just typifies that balmy summer evening shoot. Girls and their ponies hey? Too right!
The next came from a surprise photo shoot right back at the start of 2019. Liz wanted black background pictures of the family collie dogs for her husbands birthday. However getting these done was quite funny, there was a lot of cloak and dagger planning going on as we needed to ensure that hubby Peter was no-where in sight. Not always difficult for a man who is often on the farm WITH THE DOGS! None the less with some last minute close shaves (I passed him on the road heading towards his place as he was on the way out for the day) Liz’s plan came off a treat. Both collies were incredible and behaved impeccably, which wasn’t what Liz was entirely expecting! Working with black animals in naturally lit black background sessions isn’t always the easiest but I love the end result that came with all that cloak and dagger stuff! Sadly the family lost one of them later in the year, but now they do at least have this to deepen their own memories of her.
The fourth I’m going to show you is from one of the last sessions of the year. Seemed to make sense to follow one from the first of the year… Meet Fly! Fly lives in Dorset and has the honour of being the cheekiest Whippet that her owner, Charlie, has. She’s never too far from Charlie around the farm and stables. She’s a proper outdoor dog, happy on the quad or running around the fields. She just needs a coat, like many Whippets. We had the perfect opportunity to make Fly the complete star of the shoot and she, quite literally, rose to the occasion by leaping onto the top of the marker that tops Pilsdon Pen. Ears flapping in the strong ‘breeze’ surveying everything around her. Love this!
I’ve reached number 5 in this look back on my favourite horse and dog portrait images from 2019 and we are back to horses. I love oil seed rape and the drama it can supply and so when Emma called me saying she wanted a photography session that included this crop I couldn’t arrange it quick enough. Although to be honest we had to be pretty quick as the rape wasn’t going to last much longer in the location we got sorted. Her beautiful grey boy, Ernie, was going to look fabulous in the crop. What we weren’t expecting to get though was the dramatic skies too. The whole session was amazing but I think this one stood out for me the moment I pressed the shutter and it went on to feature on the cover of a Somerset glossy lifestyle magazine too.
2019 was full of shoots where great moments were caught, most of the time these little snippets happen when no-one thinks I’m watching or snapping too, which makes them super natural and super easy to love. My next one came from a really fabulous evening shoot on a beach in north Somerset. A truly emotional shoot for a beautiful lady, Zoe, with 3 wonderful puppers, each of which were clearly very much loved. Recent poor health issues for one had been the reason that Zoe had made contact with me in the hope to create some lasting memories together and she wanted it to take place at a location very dear to her heart. I adore this shot, there’s something hugely quiet and romantic about it and yet wonderfully alert and direct from little Millie too as the last of the lovely light was starting to fade.
For image number 7 we are back to horses, well ponies to be exact and three of them. 3 huge characters and a ‘mum’ in the middle whose love for them all is just abundantly apparent. Sarah and her 3 buddies, Silver (on the right), Darcy (on the left) and little Chester in the middle, were great fun to be around, as were the great gang of friends Sarah had with her to help prepare the ponies and give her a bit of moral support. The story behind each pony coming into Sarah’s life was lovely and this one shot typifies how dear each pony means to her as an individual and as a whole unit.
The next photo tugs on my heart strings for a lot of reasons. This puppy was one of 8 from a litter Tony and I bred from our Lurcher. Having access to all the gorgeous, playful puppies to photograph was just wonderful for me and we had reasonable photographic timeline of them growing up. Safely without long term emotional strings attached as they were all destined to be sold. This was a favourite photo right from the start, with the puppy still at the stage of eyes not fully opened too. Life has a funny way of changing at times and ultimately we kept one of the puppies. It wasn’t until a few months ago when I was looking back at the early puppy photos that I realised that this sequence featured the pup we kept. Nawwwhhhhh. Loopy Lily.
We’re fast approaching the end of this blog and I can’t believe I’ve only got 2 more to pick. The first of those 2 is this one of the lovely Steph and her handsome chap, Sprite. Sprite hadn’t been overly well during 2019 and wasn’t quite back to being ridden when I met him but he was well and sound. It was one of those shoots where the perfect little pockets of space and light could be found where you really weren’t expecting them to be and in the case of this shoot lots of those pockets were just on the edge of a restricted area or an area where a lot of people could suddenly appear. So timing was often the key to some of our shots to create the illusion that we were in the middle of nowhere. From a shoot with lots of favourites this one grabbed me for its softness from both of them.
My final choice for this blog came from my time with Hayley, a farrier and her huge eventer/hunter, Argent. The weather was positively baltic at times, never mind the chance of rain the whole sky was threatening with hail and boy did it throw it down about 15 minutes after I left. Timing hey! The sky did make for some dramatic backdrops in many of our pictures that day but this one came near the end of the shoot. Clients always say to me that they feel really content and relaxed on their shoots (after the initial 10 mins are out the way and they realise I’m not going to make them do something bizarre or stressful) but for some reason at the point you tell a client that we’re nearly done then they relax that tiny touch more and suddenly the reins become a natural and soft extension of their arms and hands and their shoulders drop a little too. They ‘go off’ into their own little space and it’s clearly just about them rocking their time with their horse. Like you do…
This whole blog hasn’t been in any order of preference, or getting an even number of horses against dogs, or even how they would appear aesthetically on the page – it was just 10 memorable moments from a year full of them. Really tough to do but in a way quite a nice thing too.
If you would be interested in having a photo shoot with your horse or dog, or would like to gift a session to someone special in your life, then please do drop me a message here and we can chat about your options.
Until next time.