Me, my dogs and the story of a Photoshoot
Lying face down in mud and rather more water in my wellington boots than is ideal - this is my job and I love every minute of it.
Photograph courtesy of Rhian White Photography
In a sense I've been training for my job all my life, before I took my first step I had a dogs' eye view of the world as I crawled around the floor with Jilly, my family Scottish Terrier. And from then to now, dogs and cats have been a part of my life and I have been blessed with their companionship and unfailing loyalty and yes, love.
During my lifetime, I've seen training methods come and go, some successful, some downright cruel. I've done "clicker training", "training to whistle", flirted with "obedience training" but I've never been very obedient and my dogs struggled to teach me with this method. I've done T- Touch (which is amazingly effective and relaxing for both owner and dog) and I've read legion books written by esteemed trainers. I've taken on board what I believe to the best of the available advice. And, whilst I'm not a qualified dog trainer nor doggy psychologist and don't profess to be one, I've come to realise what an amazing species the dog is.
We expect dogs to live in our society with the rules we have conceived, we expect this even though some of our own species finds it difficult to do so. Dogs understand so many of our emotions and much of our speech, much more than we understand of theirs. I take from the various methods of training the following: I believe in boundaries for safety, but I believe we all, every species, thrive when we have good nutrition, when we are loved, free from pain, safe, warm and free to express creativity in whatever form it applies to us as individuals. I apply that philosophy to co-exist with my dogs and whilst they're not always perfectly behaved as I would wish them to be, they are always as perfectly happy as it is within my power to enable them to be. I defy anyone to see a happy dog and not feel some of that exuberance along with it. So for me, I am at my most happy, creative and joyous when I'm on a photoshoot with dogs.
I read this somewhere and it's stuck with me and I love it -
Ten things we can learn from our dogs -
1. Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
2. When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
3. When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
4. Be loyal.
5. Never pretend to be something you're not.
6.On hot days drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
7. When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
8. If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
9. Enjoy the simple pleasure of wonderful food, eat with gusto and enthusiasm.
10.Take naps and stretch before rising.
On my photoshoots, safety and the dogs come first, everything is taken at their pace in locations they feel comfortable. If your dog needs to be on a lead, that's absolutely fine, together we'll work with that and produce some beautiful images. What I won't do is take photographs of dogs wearing anything at all which causes distress or discomfort. Sorry, I just won't, so best not to ask.
I've noticed that owners worry that their dogs may not be doing what they're asked, it's not something that ever concerns me as a photographer. When people tell me they love my photographs and ask how I make the dogs look so happy. I tell them I merely orchestrate the locations and hold the camera and after that I am just a very happy witness to the joy that is expressed by these beautiful beings enjoying themselves.
Running just a fast as I can
I believe passionately in animal welfare, all animals everywhere, and nominate a different charity every year to donate 2% of my profits to. For 2018, The Cinnamon Trust is my nominated charity.
My future blogs will be all about Walking with Dogs. There's nothing I love more than exploring the UK's wonderful countryside and usually ending up at a fabulous dog welcoming pub or great cake shop. I'll be publishing the routes and hopefully sampling menus and I hope you'll enjoy some of the walks yourself. Enjoy the journey.
Cleo and my tribe x