Kids, Pets, Photos and Publishing

There is a rule which some photographers have, “don’t work with animals or children”. I have personally met several of them, “photographers with no interest in working with kids and pets”, I mean.

For several years now I have organised regular photo shoots. My attitude has always been to make them available to all who wanted to come along to them, regardless of age, gender or any other attribute including whether or not they were coming along to the shoot as models or as photographers.

Regardless of your area of endeavour, it is always easier to work with people with experience in whatever you are doing, than it is to work with beginners. In the past at some of my photo shoots which I had made “open”, there would be some photographers who would quickly assess who they wanted to work with, latch on to them and monopolise them for the remainder of the photography session. There were occasions in which, even though I had organised the shoot, I felt that I was left with the models that other photographers didn’t want to work with.

My “open” shoots are now open to models, but not to photographers. Other photographers who wish to be involved in one of these shoots can still apply to do so, but I limit the numbers to a maximum of two other photographers apart from me. And, those photographers have to agree to a protocol I have established for the open shoots. One of the clauses of that protocol is that all models in attendance who want to be photographed must be photographed by all of the photographers in attendance. There can be no monopolising of a particular model.

Now, I can certainly understand the attraction of working with experienced models. A year or so ago I had a shoot with a former Miss Australia and her family in a well known Brisbane park. The shoot ran incredibly smoothly and we obtained some great shots. Striking appropriate poses and expressions were of course a natural for the former Miss Australia, but she also organised her partner and their two children as well. My job was not much more than framing and clicking. I have never seen anyone else change into three different outfits in the middle of a public park without anyone else apart from us knowing what she was doing.

The above scenario compared with a young three or five year old who had never been professionally photographed before and perhaps didn’t want to be photographed is maybe like comparing chalk and cheese. I really enjoy working with experienced, professional models. They make the photographer’s job incredibly easy and great fun. Working with beginners, regardless of age, can be a challenge for the photographer, but that challenge can also be very rewarding.

“Kids, Pets, Photos and Publishing” is the title I gave to this article. Up until now, no mention has been made of pets. I reckon kids and pets have a few things in common. Most times we love them all dearly. The kids, and many animals, will generally usually try to please us. They can also have short attention spans and on occasion be unpredictable. Each one, whether a child or a pet, is also a unique individual.

The majority of my working career was in the education sector. In addition to working in the tertiary sector for the last twenty-five years of my career, the first twenty-five years involved working in Primary, Secondary and Special education, both at the coal face as a teacher and in administration. I hold a Post-Graduate Diploma of Special Education and my Master of Education degree was obtained in the area of special needs. So, from both a practical and theoretical viewpoint I have had a fair bit of experience with kids. Besides, I had two of my own. They are no longer kids but two mature aged beautiful ladies. And, the adjective “beautiful” is used in every aspect of the term.

What about animals? Currently I enjoy other people’s animals. But, until recent years I have always had and enjoyed pets, even although some of the animals I kept, others may not describe as pets. I remember as a young kid our half-Persian cat Tinkerbell. She was pure white with one green eye and a blue eye, and she was a cat that didn’t like milk, but a couple of years latter when we had a pup that did, suddenly Tinkerbell started enjoying it also. A few years later as a ten year old I spent a year in Pakistan with my family and we had two rabbits we called Peter and Paul. One day Peter had some baby rabbits, so we had to start spelling the name Peta. My Golden Cocker Spaniel dog Buddy, who truly was my best buddy. Later there was my Blue Healer dog, Bluey, he was always disappointed when I started up my motor cycle and he was not allowed to come with me. Bluey used to love going for rides sitting on the petrol tank between my legs.

Other dogs and cats, birds, chooks, cows, goats and even ostriches were among my many and varied pets. My last two dogs were Italia and Dante. They were Maremma Sheep Dogs. The pick of one of Italia’s litters was a gift to my daughter Melissa. His name was Baci and he was much loved and lived to the old age of fourteen.

Since my retirement from education, I have spent considerably more time than I used to on photography. The main genre of interest is people and portraiture. And, since I have been keeping records of what I have shot, I recently passed the 46,000 published photos mark. Kids have of course been included in that list, but not many pets. In the future I would like to photograph more of both kids and pets. Even having them together.

I think that some of the skills needed for getting good shots of kids will also apply to getting good shots of pets. One of these is patience, I probably have less than I used to when I worked in Special Education, but I probably still have more than most people. Another that is related and applies to both kids and animals is to take your time for them to get to know you. I have often found with some kids that once you get into the shoot they are far more at ease and easier to work with. It usually helps if there are others involved and the kids can see that everything is OK.

Those who know me will know that I have published several books since 2012. Most of the recent ones are photography albums. I want to continue publishing books. One that I have in mind for down the track a bit is one about people and their pets. It will primarily be an album with heaps of colour photographs, but also with short stories. What I envisage is a few pages of each person and their pet(s), with a short story about the person and their pet. Now, the person can be a kid, or a grand-parent and all ages between. The pet can be a traditional pet such as a dog or a cat, but birds, guinea pigs, horses or even farm animals can be included.

I reckon it will probably take me a couple of years to get the material together, but I would like to make a start.

Here is how you can help. If you have a pet or pets, I would like to spend some time with you, and/or members of your family and your pet(s). Hopefully we can get some great photos together. There will not be any money changing hands between you and me, but you will get file copies of all edited photos from the session. If at some time in the future you would like enlargements of some of the shots taken, then these will be supplied for a reasonable cost.

These days I am available most days whether it be during the week or on weekends. I look forward to you being involved. If you are interested, you could message here or text me on 0403 543 827.