Time To Say Goodbye. A Specialist Pet Photography Photoshoot For Samson & Sadie.

Specialist Pet photography photoshoot for dogs Samson & Sadie. Captured by Pet photographer, Detheo Photography

Being  a Specialist Pet Photographer did not happen by accident. Yes, it would be fair to say it was something I had aspired to. Over the past 7 or more years, I have worked hard and inevitably my business has grown. However, I believe that there was something more powerful than just wanting, that bought Detheo Photography to where it is today.

The relationships between people and animals has always fascinated me and the bonds that we build, have been one of the most profound foundations of my work.

Photographing animals takes so much more than just being a great photographer. The ability to interact with each individual, in a way that is suited to them, means dedicating a vast amount of time to learning and understanding the behaviour of each species. It is an endless journey with amazing rewards.

It is so lovely to be able to capture beautiful images of peoples pets, seeing the amazement when they view their images for the first time. And over 7 years we have been fortunate to photograph near on one thousand animals, of all shapes and sizes.

Yet, the true defining moment came Friday last week, when we were contacted by a very heartbroken lady Vanessa, explaining that her dog Samson had recently been diagnosed with Cancer.

“My Samson has only weeks to live. I have been trying to take pictures over the past couple of weeks but either burst into tears or just can’t capture a shot of him.Would you be able to fit Samson and Sadie (our other dog) for a shoot. They have never been apart for over 9 years and a picture together would be a wonderful thing for us to treasure.”

We worked quickly to make arrangements and get Samson and Sadie into the studio this Wednesday (23/11/16).

The dogs came with one of their regular dog walkers, Susanna as Vanessa understandably felt she would struggle. Instantly I sensed Samson was not quite right. It is difficult to express in words but there was just a gut feeling. So I decided to pretend that we were not doing anything other than just having a chat. I moved the giant leather pouf into the shooting area and invited the dogs to get up and lay down. Susanna then perched on the side and I sat on the floor. Within moments, they had both relaxed and soon feel asleep.

That evening I started to edit the images we had captured. But, if the truth be told, I found this an emotional time. Having said goodbye to three of our own pets, I knew all too well how devastated the family were going to be. Yet nothing I could do would ever change that.

However, there is something very special about a photograph. It has the ability to awaken all of our senses, so that in a split moment, we suddenly can feel the softness of our dogs coat and the distinct sounds of their barking. Photographs have the power to momentarily transport us back, to relive memories over and over again. And as sat back and looked at the final images, I realised, this way why I became a Specialist Pet Photographer.  To be able to create these important images, so others may treasure them and in time gain some comfort from them too.

On Thursday 24th November, Samson’s condition deteriorated and today, Friday 25th November, he crossed over Rainbows Bridge. However, his paw prints will remain on the hearts of all that knew him.

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I Can See The Light!

When I was a little girl my father would always joke around using his heavily Greek accent to repeat lines from his favourite programs and films. He had many lines and they still have us laughing even now, so many years on. My mother, the more sensible of the two, had one or two lines of her own, her favourite being “always learning, learning all the time!”.  I doubt she ever realised how true those words were, but those few words have inadvertently formed the foundations of my life ever since.

In every aspect of life, I believe there are new things to learn. The world around us has so much information yet many people travel through life almost with their eyes and ears closed. Some do this with no realisation that it is happening, whereas others are more deliberate, believing they have all the knowledge there is to have.

Like all other professions, Photography is a journey of learning, with many years of travel exploring new and wonderful findings. And just when you think you have discovered all there is to be found, there will always something else hiding in wait.

Still very much at the early stages of my journey, I have searched long and hard to find courses that offer the quality and personalisation that I require to forward my skills. So when I recently was alerted to such an opportunity, I could not quite believe it.

However, true it definitely was for last weekend, (from Friday 23rd until Monday 26th November 2012) I packed up my car and drove the three and half hours journey to East Yorkshire to meet John and Liz Denton, from Denton Photography.  It was clear from the beginning that both John and Liz understood my values and my aspirations. They also had done their home work on me and were ready to guide me through the next level of my learning and amongst other things, lighting was one of the main areas we all knew I needed to develop.

The beautiful Jennifer Dickinson on the foggy West Wood, Beverley.

The beautiful Jennifer Dickinson on the foggy West Wood, Beverley.

Saturday morning started with freezing fog that swept over the ground and significantly reduced visibility. Making my way to the studio I wondered what my day would entail. As someone who loves being outside, I should not have feared, as the day turned out to be truly amazing. John embraced the fog and taught me how to work it to my advantage. As did our wonderful model, Jennifer Dickinson, who seemed to love the outdoors as much as we did.

Model Jennifer Dickinson on the foggy West Wood, Beverley.

Model Jennifer Dickinson on the foggy West Wood, Beverley.

Throughout the day we worked with natural light, then mixed this with additional lighting and finally finished off in the studio working with studio lighting.

Jennifer 4

Working with natural light around the grounds of the studio.

Mixing natural light and the speed light create atmosphere.

Mixing natural light and the speed light create atmosphere.

Jennifer 11

Using Studio Lighting.

Using studio lighting.

Using studio lighting.

Sunday promised to be another jam packed day and this time we were joined by the beautiful  Caroline Mary Spalding. Having lost the fog, we just had the flooded roads and freezing cold weather to contend with. Yet nothing seemed to phase us and the stunning shots just kept coming.

Using natural light with the lovely Caroline around the studio.

Using natural light with the lovely Caroline around the studio.

Using natural light around the grounds of the studio.

Using natural light around the grounds of the studio.

With John determined to push me forward, Sunday brought a new feeling of confidence and by the  late afternoon I really began to feel at one with all the new skills I and learnt and the equipment I was surrounded by. But, just as I thought I was getting comfortable, John took me yet again further out of my comfort zone.

Now, I too had done my research and was very aware that my teacher was not just a good photographer. Apart from being a down to earth, shorts wearing funny man, John Denton is actually one of the most skilful and creative photographers I have ever seen and I doubt anyone knows how to use light better than him. He also has a reputation for creating some of the most amazing and artistic nude images ever. So it was no surprise that the final stage of my training involved Caroline ditching her warm winter wear and taking it all back to nature!

Shaping the body with light in the studio.

Shaping the body with light in the studio.

Shaping the body with light in the studio.

Shaping the body with light in the studio.

However, John had indeed not only taught me so much, but took the time to also learn about me. By giving me the opportunity to create images with my own style, John introduced me to a genre of photography I had never really focused much on. To my surprise, and possibly John’s, I took to it like a duck to water.

Of course, I must at this point thank both Jennifer Dickinson and Caroline Mary Spalding who both worked with patience, professionalism and had a great sense of humour, during our time together.

Monday was spent going over all of my images and then a business development session with the inspirational Liz Denton. Liz is the authority on everything business, as well as an amazing photographer in her own right. Her guidance and direction gave clarity to a once hazy area.

So, sadly the weekend was over but the long journey back flew past as my mind raced with what I had learnt, what I had achieved and what I wanted from the future.

The weekend with John and Liz, away from the hustle and bustle of the busy family life I have here, helped me to really focus on who I am and what I see as the future of Detheo Photography.  I  cannot give specifics but I will say the future is definitely looking bright! I feel recharged, enlightened and ready to start moving forward.

I would like to thank John and Liz for their kindness, support and commitment to sharing their passion and skills, and for their continued desire to ensure their teaching is accessible without discrimination.

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