My Springtime Photo-Shoot Competition with Millie the Labradoodle
To officially mark the beginning of Spring, last weekend I photographed Millie the Labradoodle, the winner of my Springtime photo-shoot competition. I met with Millie's owners Helen & Paul at their home in Washington and just like any other day, we took Millie on her daily walk but this time, I was there to capture Millie every step of the way.
Millie's favourite walk is a stroll through a wooded area, right on her doorstep. It's a familiar place for her with lots of recognisable smells and doggy pals. When meeting Millie, she was slightly guarded, she could sense that this wasn't a normal walk. That's why for the first 10 minutes, I used it as an opportunity for her to feel relaxed and just get settled into the situation (AKA a stranger being present on her walk). Even though I already knew a bit about Millie's personality from the pre-shoot questionnaire that Helen & Paul filled out for me, I chatted with the two of them to really understand her temperament, likes and dislikes.
Soon I was ready to start snapping. Nothing too intimate at first, just a few shots following Millie from a far as I got to grips with her pace, movements and mannerisms. I try to avoid staging or asking for a pose with my canine subject right away. It's pointless really, for many reasons. Mainly, a dog is more interested in sniffing out new smells if they're on a walk, and they're going to look far more relaxed when they're doing their own thing. It's my job as a photographer to harness that behaviour and really capture their personality while they're doing what they enjoy.
So that's what I did, getting closer with each shot and building trust with Millie. I also make sure to let a dog investigate my camera, it's a new device for them so it's only right that they sniff it out and reassure themselves that it's not dangerous. It's also a great opportunity to pause for cuddle and play breaks. I've learnt that you need to let a dog come to you, and when they do, sometimes it's a good excuse to put the camera down, have a quick play or a tickle and then get back to business. Again, it's all about building up trust and making the dog feel comfortable so that in the long run, we can get the best shots possible.
We got lots of great pictures. Millie leading us through the woods, rolling in leaves, peering through trees - and it was all unstaged. it was just Millie being Millie. We were near the end of the walk and it was time for our first and only posed shot - The Bluebell Shot. As a dog photographer, if you pass a patch of Bluebells on a shoot, I think it's pretty much the law to get a few snaps! And no Springtime photo-shoot would be complete without it. We got Millie into position and she was the perfect model. She sat still and even played catch with me. Millie's owners were stunned and commented on how responsive she was being. They went as far as to say that everything that she doesn't do, she was doing today, it was like opposite day.
So I had definitely made a new best friend in Millie. When we got back to the house, she wouldn't leave my side, and as it was time to leave I knew I was going to struggle leaving hers. She was a joy to work with and I was so pleased with the pictures, they really do capture Millie's cheeky, fun and adorable personality.
If you are interested in a similar photo-shoot of your dog at home or on their favourite walk, get in touch for pricing and further details.
I regularly promote seasonal offers, so visit and like my Facebook page for a chance to be part of any up and coming competitions.