My dog photography business, Charlotte Reeves Photography, was launched in 2007. After receiving frequent questions from other photographers, I decided to branch out into teaching, and in 2013, Learn Pet Photography was born, which has now evolved into Unleashed Education.
I am super passionate about teaching. I relish simplifying tricky concepts and helping people achieve their goals by making the learning fun, practical, and positive. I may be somewhat addicted to creating lightbulb moments for my students!
I also still love working with dog parents for limited private dog photography sessions - I’ve never met a dog who hasn’t taught me something new. That I get to witness such incredible bonds between dogs and their humans, create beautiful portraits and call it “work”, is a true gift and I still pinch myself every single day.
Here's a few reasons you may like to work with me...
We never stop learning!
My head was constantly buried in a book when I was a kid (actually, it often still is) and I soak up new information like a sponge. I'm one of these people who always reads the manual from cover to cover, and I just love problem solving. I'm always up-to-date on the latest camera technology, and I get super excited when a new software version is released. 🤓 This is good news for my students, because all this knowledge is passed on to you!
And the first specialised outdoor dog photographer in Australia.
I started photographing dogs professionally in 2007 but nearly 10 years prior to that, I was busy earning college Diplomas, first in Photography, then later in Multimedia and Graphic Design. I worked in the fields of web and graphic design before coming full circle back to photography. These diverse but inter-related skills come in super handy when designing and creating beautiful learning materials for you. I'm basically a one-stop-shop!
This makes me the world’s worst backseat driver.
But also the best online course creator ever. Before I launch any new learning resource, I’ve already spent countless hours in front of the computer writing, recording, editing, formatting, re-writing, re-formatting 🙈 and generally making my content absolutely perfect before it's released. I get a kick out of releasing comprehensive training packages that I just know will be life-changing for my students.
Not just a photographer who photographs dogs!
Through owning and training dogs and working with them on the daily, I’ve gained a rich understanding of doggy behaviour. I can read their body language and connect with them on a level and in a way they understand. Adaptation and improvisation are the key - one way or another, I always get the shot! Along with the photography side of things, these skills in working with dogs are a major component of my teachings.
Back in 2016, I spent a year photographing over 100 dogs at over 70 locations in my home town of Brisbane - romping around off-leash doggy playgrounds, exploring trendy city and sprawling urban parks and gardens, visiting historic buildings and posing proudly in front of iconic structures. The resulting limited edition coffee table book Tails of Brisbane features over 300 beautiful full colour images and best of all, raised over $5000 for pet rescue organisations. You can still grab your own limited edition copy!
Though I began my journey on Pentax film cameras, my first digital SLR was a Canon 350D, and I've stuck with Canon until this day. A 5D followed, then a 5D Mark II, then a big jump to my first 1Dx, then a 1Dx Mark II. Recently I've made the big switch to mirrorless, with the amazing Canon EOS R5 and new RF lenses, which I love! You can find out more about my gear below in the FAQ.
Kaya was my first dog as an adult, and my original photography muse. As a cute fawn puppy, her long legs and massive paws inspired me to document her rapid growth, sharing the stories and photos from our many adventures together online. This fuelled my obsession with dog photography, as I featured all the fun she and her little blue sister, Luna, had together. Both their lives were only short, but despite the years that have passed, their loss is still fresh and I miss them both every single day.
When I studied photography at college back in 1999, digital photography was still a high-tech distant dream and everything we did was on film cameras. My first SLR camera, a Pentax K1000, formed the basis of my vintage camera collection which has expanded over the years to include 70's and 80's film SLR's, a Rolleicord TLR and the pride of my collection, a massive and super cool Pentax 6x7 medium-format SLR camera. If you called me a camera nerd, you'd be correct!
To celebrate 10 years of business in late 2017, I applied for and was approved as an Accredited Professional Photographer with the Australian Institute of Professional Photography. In 2018, I entered my first professional photography awards. All four of my images were awarded – a Silver and three Silver Distinctions. Then at the awards night I was surprised and delighted to be named the 2018 AIPP Queensland Epson Pet/Animal Photographer of the Year - the photos are here.
Here are five non-dog-photography related facts so you can get to know me better.
Including my outdoorsy adventure-loving husband! You’ll often find us out exploring the wilderness either on foot, or two or four wheels. Of the furred and feathered variety, our animals include a Quarter Horse gelding called Buddy, our ragtag collection of chickens and guinea fowl and our smart and cheeky Australian Shepherds - Fletcher, Opal and Enzo.
When I’m not on solo travel adventures in the great outdoors (usually beaching it with the dogs) you’re likely to find me chilling out on the verandah at home, deeply immersed a historical novel, savouring a home-brewed craft beer (thanks husband) and soaking in the peaceful tranquility of our rural retreat.
I’m in my element when travelling and exploring amazing scenery and historical sites around the world, particularly in European destinations. My perfect day involves driving around the crisp and remote Scottish countryside exploring ruined castles, followed by a hearty dinner fireside at a cozy traditional pub.
My favourite time and place of history is anything from 0-1000 AD in the British isles. Romano-British, Saxon and Scandinavian cultures fascinate me, and I'm one of those crazy individuals who dresses up as a Viking at Medieval festivals (I even managed to rope my husband in). I did warn you I was a nerd!
Maybe it’s because I live in a warm climate, but I love cold weather and especially snowy winter destinations. Snowboarding is my favourite winter activity - there's nothing quite like whooshing through some soft powder on the way down the mountain, especially when followed by a cozy evening in front of the fireplace, gourmet cuisine and a glass of spiced wine.
These are supposed to be non-dog-photography, but this one breaks the rules...
Remember my pups, Fletcher, Opal and Enzo from fact #1? This gorgeous trio of Australian Shepherds been causing quite a commotion over on Instagram collecting fans like nobody’s business – their account has more followers than me, seriously. They're my main photography muses and I love sharing fun stories and beautiful photos of them, so go join the fan club!
Here’s a few answers to commonly asked questions from photographers.
I developed an interest in photography at high school and completed a short course in black and white film photography in 1998. I loved it so much, I abandoned my dream of becoming a vet and instead went on to complete a Diploma of Photography, a two year TAFE college course in Toowoomba, Queensland. I then studied web (multimedia) and graphic design, and eventually ended up pursuing a career as a designer which I worked as for the next 5 years.
I continued taking photos with early digital cameras and film SLRs for my own enjoyment, then purchased my first digital SLR (a Canon EOS 350D) in 2006. In 2007, to help me get back into the swing of photography and improve my skills, I completed a 365 photo-a-day project which was the best thing I could have done. Picking up the camera on a daily basis and striving to see the world in a new way each day was just what I needed.
In early 2007 I met, fell head-over-heels in love with, and brought home a fawn Great Dane named Kaya. To document the first year of Kaya’s life I decided to start a blog and post images and stories about her life, told from her perspective.
The blog proved to be quite popular and I really enjoyed taking photos of Kaya and her doggy friends, so researched the idea of getting back into photography as a profession and specialising in dogs. I started out doing shoots for my friends’ dogs to build up a portfolio of work. I created a website to display my work, had some business cards printed up and attended events to get my name out there. It’s been a long journey but well worth the effort!
I like to try and keep images looking natural and timeless, so steer clear of applying presets and following editing trends. I go for vibrant (but not oversaturated) colour, beautiful lighting and make sure the subject is crisp, clear and separate from the background. I place emphasis on three main components – light, location and expression – striving to include all three in every image I take.
I've actually recently (in 2020) switched to Canon mirrorless, but previousIy I shot with a Canon 1D-X Mark II body. Now, I use a Canon EOS R5 and I absolutely love it! The number of lenses I take to shoots has been reduced to just three. These include the Canon RF 28-70 f2L, Canon RF 50mm f1.2L and Canon RF 70-200 f2.8L. The 70-200 is my go-to lens for action, but also for portraits when I need to hang back a little or shoot in a cluttered environment. I shoot with this lens probably 75% of the time. The 28-70 is a great all-rounder, allowing more flexibility with focal length, but an epic f2 all the way through the zoom range so it's more like a prime lens. The 50mm at f1.2 is an absolutely glorious lens, perfect for shallow depth of field portraits.
I like to get exposure perfect in camera so shoot in full manual exposure mode (M) about 99.9% of the time. In highly variable lighting conditions I sometimes shoot in Manual with Auto ISO.
I use full time continuous autofocus (AI Servo on Canon) and on the new Canon EOS R5 - animal eye autofocus - which has been life-changing!
I use no artificial lighting or reflectors.
I use Adobe Lightroom to download, sort and finalise selected images from a session, and also apply basic adjustments such as cropping, white balance, highlight and shadow recovery, exposure, clarity, contrast and vibrance.
I then export the final images as PSD files to Adobe Photoshop and edit each shot individually, often using some time-saving custom actions I’ve created for further sharpening, colour and contrast. I’ll also do any pixel level editing such as the removal of leashes, background objects etc.
The final edited PSD files are then imported back into Lightroom where they sit ready for batch processing, depending on their eventual usage.
For a full rundown of the workflow I use and recommend, check out my Workflow and Editing Guide e-book.
Helping other photographers means they’ll produce quality work more quickly, helping our whole industry grow tall and strong and become more visible to the public. If you fertilise and water something regularly, it will bloom into something that just can’t be ignored. That helps all of us! The more high-quality pet images people see, the more likely they are to take it seriously and want it for themselves. A day will soon arrive where pet photography is as ingrained a service as wedding or family photography, and when hiring a pet photographer is as commonplace as hiring a newborn photographer.
And no, I don't hold back any secrets. I'm genuinely addicted to lightbulb moments and come alive when I see others ‘get’ something for the first time. Integrity is central to what I do - the industry won’t grow until we’re all conversant in the same skills bringing joy to animal owners everywhere.
Besides, a lot of people come to me hoping to create images for rescue organisations and shelters. This can be actual life-saving work helping cats and dogs get new homes and I engage in this work myself. Building a generation of generous volunteers with a high standard of work that truly speaks to potential adopters will save lives. If there is any skill, any idea, any tip I can share that would give these animals a greater chance at a happy life – you’ll hear about it!