Posted on March 12, 2018
Sometimes in life, the reality turns out to be a disappointment compared to the fantasy. Like that time when you were so looking forward to something and once there it turns out not to be as great as you had imagined. This was definitely NOT the case here!
After years of admiration and months of excitement having booked to attend a Special Training Day with Monty Roberts, The Horse Whisperer, I did question how this would live up to expectations. Would he be a nice as I imagined? Would I be able to feel the connection or would I disappear into the background? I had wanted to meet him since I was a child, so it was my responsibility to make that happen. But would he be receptive?
Arriving at The Intelligent Horsemanship centre run by Kelly Marks (who herself is an amazing woman) I quickly realised that I never had needed to question it at all.
From the very beginning, I felt an instant sense of belonging. Which of course is a little odd as I was the only person who was not either a horse breeder, an owner or a stable hand. Some of the terminology used meant nothing to me. But when I questioned the meaning of something, Monty kindly explained without making me feel belittled in any way.
At this point, people will question, why I felt the need to attend such a training day in the first place? So let me explain.
From a very young age, I have always been fascinated by the ability to develop an instinctual understanding and route of communication between us and other species. As a Specialist Pet Photographer, I feel very passionate about the ability to understand the animals I work with. To understand how the animal is feeling, how what I do affects them, and how I can ensure that my behaviour always creates a positive experience for them.
This was the motivation behind my learning about dog behaviour and over the years I have seen how this knowledge of dogs has influenced my work. It has not only enabled me to work better with dogs in general, but enabled me to work with dogs, that others would struggle to photograph. But above all, it means that I am always working with the dogs best interests at heart.
So it was actually quite emotional for me to finally meet Monty, and confirm that he holds the same values for his relationship with horses. It wasn’t a publicity stunt and when you watch him work with a horse that he has never met before, there was no doubting he really did understand them and have the ability to communicate with them. You could feel something between the horse and Monty, like a private conversation but with the volume muted.
The owners of both horses on the day were attendees of the workshop and I watched closely their reactions when Monty was working with their horse. I was left with no doubt as to how shocked and blown away they were.
At some point during the lunch break, I approached Monty and introduced myself, explaining my reasoning for attending. I thanked him for all the work he has done and continues to do, in trying to make the lives of horses better all over the world, and, for giving me the knowledge and inspiration to keep learning and working the way I do. Taking my hand, we spoke briefly and he thanked me for attending and for my kind words. This gesture will never be forgotten.
I have never in life idealised anyone based on fame or status. It was never and still is not important to me. It is what they choose to do in life that intrigues me and where they gain my respect.
To me, Monty Roberts is not a celebrity, he is a man who has is trying to make a difference. To remind humanity that each animal has its own evolution, its own behaviour and its own way of communicating.
But for me, Monty’s work serves as a reminder of a deeper message. When working with animals, you learn that they can sense chemical changes in our body. Increases in our adrenalin and heart rate, for example, will have an impact on them. With horses, it will often make them fear a possible upcoming danger.
So it is not just about learning to relax and clear your mind of all negativity, but also the ability to just BE in that moment, that makes that connection more possible.
Animals do not care about our social status, wealth or materialistic possessions. They do not know who we are in the human world, all they relate to is who we are at that moment in time. It is our intentions and our behaviour that confirms the purity our heart and mind and it is only then that they will begin to trust us.
After the day had ended, I had the opportunity to speak to Monty again whilst he signed my book and also had a chance to speak to Kelly Marks who is in her own right, an incredible woman who also works so hard at changing the lives of horses and their owners. An accidental meeting drew Monty and Kelly together (although my belief in fate would suggest this was meant to be) and after a short period, Monty asked Kelly to be the first ever to teach his methods to the public. This was to be the birth of the Intelligent Horsemanship.
I hope to meet up again with Kelly and her team in the future. Her passion and knowledge are infectious. And her kindest is evident for all to see. Without her commitment to the Intelligent Horsemanship, the opportunity to meet and witness, first hand, Monty’s methods would not exist. I personally would like to thank Kelly for making this possible. It has changed the lives of so many horses and people and I am sure it will continue to change many many more. It definitely has changed my life.
I encourage anyone with a horse or pony to at least attend one of the demonstrations held by Kelly or Monty and witness the same as what I did.
It will change your lives, how much of course, is up to you.
Posted on March 9, 2018
Posted on July 21, 2014
It is often those who do not have animals in their lives that immediately appear surprised when I say I am a Specialist Pet Photographer. They regularly question if there is a market for such a specialism. Then there are those who are aware of other photographers who photograph pets, but have little understanding of the genre and what it truly entails.
And why would they? For like all genre of photography, there is a huge diversity of standards, often driven by the personal values of each photographer. What is seen by the public is merely a snipped. Once they become a client, they then get to read the whole story.
As such, in this article I hope to share with you the passion and values that underpin our “Specialist Pet Photography” title, taking you to the core of what we strive to achieve and why.
Animals have played such an important role in human history and continue to do so in our everyday lives. From guarding to herding, guiding the visually impaired to active war duty. Rightly or wrongly we have used animals to help us hunt, test our medicines, help us travel, and keep us company for thousands of years.
The connection that many of our clients have with their pets is one of great intensity. It is a relationship that conquers the barriers of communication from one specie to another and is far more innate than many give it credit for. With all this in mind, we know that preserving the memory of that relationship is very important. It allows us to celebrate the bond we have now, and continue to honour what we had, once they are gone. Like all photography, the images we create can act almost like a psychological time machine, with the power to instantly transport us back, igniting the memories of touch, smell and sound.
As an individual I spent all of my life around animals always seeming to gravitate towards them. My extended family owned horses and I would spend hours out in the paddocks watching them and talking to them. My mother still recalls my childhood dreams of one day having my own horse and riding it everywhere. Over the years I shared my life with rabbits, hamsters, cats, dogs and birds. I learnt to ride and could be found every weekend, for many years, at the stables. So it was a natural progression that once married and living in our new home, we would share our new life with animals.
Throughout my life a camera was rarely far from my side, however many many years would pass before fate guided me into professional photography. It was to take major, life altering events, to send me in a new direction. But when it did, that innate connection drew me directly back towards animals. With early life experiences as my foundation, I set about building my knowledge further. At this time I had recently come to meet an amazing lady, Laura Shambrook, who ran her own pet services company Pawfect Friends. Little did I know then how hugely influential she would be, not only to my life, but to the future of Detheo Photography.
We met Laura when looking for a reliable alternative to kennels and almost immediately I started to learn so much from her. I volunteered at a local rescue centre and found my new knowledge gave me even more understanding of the dogs there. Over the years I absorbed as much as I could. A sponge soaking up the knowledge she would share with me. It is therefore no surprise to look back now and see that since starting Detheo Photography I have photographed hundreds of pets including dogs, cats, horses, reptiles and rodents.
Our most popular subject is be the dog. The domesticated ancestor of the Grey Wolf, who has been a part of our pack for hundreds of thousands of years, we see all varieties and all with their own unique personality.
Working primarily out on location, photoshoots are designed to enable the dogs to feel relaxed. As such photoshoots are held in gardens, fields or forests where the dogs can behave naturally. We spend time making sure the dogs are comfortable in our company and with our equipment, which often means having to clean some slobbery lenses!
Over the years our skills have grown, both photographically, and through our greater understanding of animals. In turn our reputation has grown and we are regularly called to photograph dogs who other photographers would not, or could not work with. These dogs may appear to be aggressive and some have even bitten through fear. Others are frail and suffering life limiting conditions. Many are just nervous and traditional photographic studios are far too overwhelming.
The ability to work with these dogs and give their families what they once thought impossible fill me with such a huge sense of pride. It takes a great deal of patience, understanding and determination. But it also requires a vast amount of trust. Not only from the family, but from the dog themselves.
Against much pressure and possibly some common sense, I stuck firmly to the passion and the values, that from the start helped build my vision. I have learnt so much along the way and am always learning.
Laura Shambrook, now very much seen as an important part of our family, still runs a very successful pet services company offering excellence in boarding, walking, grooming and training. Her many years of experience and training finds her company head and shoulders apart from the many whimsical start ups we see come and go on a daily basis. So it is with great pride and overwhelming honour to know that Detheo Photography and Pawfect Friends are actively working on some amazing ideas for the future, whilst continuing to integrate services for our ever growing client group.
And as if this was not exciting enough, last year Detheo Photography’s Pet Specialism started gaining recognition within the commercial work of marketing and specifically within the veterinary world. Commissions already have included both leading Veterinary Insurance companies and large veterinary groups. The projects have each been challenging, but an amazing experience. We have met such talented and skilled individuals, with whom we have thoroughly enjoyed working.
And we believe this is just the beginning!
Posted on April 13, 2012
Posted on April 12, 2012
As I stand watching my daughter during her riding lessons, I am often distracted by the beauty of the horses around me. As a child I was very fortunate to have an uncle who owned some amazing Arabian horses and I can remember watching them too, imaging adventures we would share. My mother reminds me how I would say that I would never drive a car as I would travel everywhere on horse back. Of course the reality is very far from my dreams. I rode for many years on and off, however, finances and time constraints meant that I sadly gave this up over 10 years ago.
Today, I have the pleasure to watch my own daughter riding and if you look in her eyes it is clear to see that she too feels the magic these stunning creatures hold.
So whilst she is busy learning, I spend some time walking around, admiring the other horses. And of course, with my faithful camera by my side, I try to capture some of the beauty before me.