I've been photographing pets professionally since 2001, my business, Furtography, is based in Christchurch, but I travel across New Zealand and all over the world to capture images that show the true personality of pooches in bright and glorious technicolour, for both commercial clients and everyday family dogs.
Since 2015 I've been teaching pet photographers at workshops, mentoring sessions and online. I love nothing more than helping people really find their creative glitter and fill their work with sparkle.
If you want to know more about me, read on!
Here's a few reasons you may like to work with me...
Let me help your find your glitter.
Pet photography is so much more than knowing what exposure settings and rules of composition are. It's about creating art that fills yours and your clients souls. To inject your own vision and personality in your work. To create authentically from your heart and bring all that makes you sparkle to the work you create to enable you to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Helping you find that glitter is my superpower!
I was the first ever accredited pet photographer in New Zealand.
I'm a New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography accredited Master of Photography and have an Associateship with the Australian IPP. I have been specialising in pet photography since 2001 - 20+ years! Yes that makes me feel old, but I'm young at heart! Trust me, there's nothing I haven't encountered in all those years - shy dogs, difficult owners, big group shots, getting peed on - and I want to share all that experience with you (maybe minus the pee).
I don't miss much in the finer points.
Especially not a wonky horizon! I love looking deeper at the details, so I can help you notice them too. Some might call it pixel peeping, I just think it's thorough! You'll never have to worry about a missed sensor spot again! It's not just details in images I love either, it's all the little things that run through a brand or a website or a client experience. Consistency in the details is a key component.
Not just a photographer who photographs dogs!
Over the last 20 years, I've gained a high level of understanding of doggy behaviour and body language. I know how to work with dogs and connect with them to get the shots I want, while making it a fun positive experience for them. In my opinion, this is one of the most important aspects of working with dogs and it is something I'm a big advocate for in everything I teach.
My journey into becoming an author began with Quake Dogs in 2013. After the devastating earthquakes in Christchurch I wanted to share stories of how dogs were affected. Penguin Random House agreed to publish and Quake Dogs went on to become a bestseller, staying on top of the list for 10 weeks, beating some stiff competition from celebrity chef cook books in the process! Naturally following the success of the book, I followed it up with Quake Cats, which did just as well and both books have now raised well over $30,000 for local pet charities. My third book, A Dog's Life, also a bestseller, tells the stories of dogs all across New Zealand.
My first ever digital camera was a point and Shoot Fuji Finepix F810, but even before that, I used to shoot with Fuji film in my Canon EOS SLR. I always had my work printed on Fuji paper too. I had a few other Fuji cameras too, and invested in the X system right from the release of the X-T1. When Fujifilm launched their GFX medium Format Camera in 2017, I was hooked on the quality. I was thrilled they approached me to become an official X ambassador and happily agreed! Since then, I've taught workshops with them, been involved in camera launches and shot for them. Today, I shoot mostly with my Fujifilm GFX 50s backed up by an X-T3 and also a Canon EOS R5.
When I was growing up, we had a family dog, Lassie. She passed away when I was 9 or 10 and we never had another dog. Despite me working as a pet photographer for 20+ years, I was never in a position in my adult life to have a family dog, until recently. Ralph joined the family in 2018, making us a family of six. Myself, my husband Chris and our 3 cats, Jazz, Mr Tinkles and Millefeuille. Ralph fit right in and I can't imagine life without him, he is very spoilt and being small, fast, very hairy and black, he has really tested my photography skills to the max!
For as long as I can remember I always felt an affinity for animals and I've been raising money for charities since I was 8 years old doing sponsored silences, charity walks and bake sales. It is a great honour to be able to continue raising funds and awareness for charities today. One of the most important things I do today is adoption photography for several charities. A single photo really can save a life and I love meeting all the rescue dogs that need families. I'm also an ambassador for the Kotuku Foundation Assistance Animals Aotearoa, who train and place assistance dogs with people whose lives can be improved with their help.
I started entering The New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography Iris Awards in 2016 and has some reasonable success with every image I entered being awarded. In 2018 I was the first person in the 80 year history of the NZIPP to win a portrait category for images that were not of people. You can see the images here. Since then I've also been awarded the Regional Photographer of the Year for my area (Canterbury/Westland). Awards are a great way to get feedback and continue to grow and I have entered many awards around the world. My images have now been awarded more than 100 times and my most recent achievement was winning the 2020 Animal Image Makers Dog Photographer of the Year.
Here are five non-dog-photography related facts so you can get to know me better.
Guernsey is the second largest of the Channel Islands, but at just 65km² it's pretty small. It is a Crown dependancy so has its own government, money and passports, and the island has an amazing rich history and natural beauty. We moved to Christchurch NZ in 2009 and Guernsey would fit into Christchurch 22 times!
People often call pop music cheesy or a guilty pleasure, I say the cheesier the better and I never feel guilty about it! I have a huge collection of vinyl and CD's from the 80's, 90's & 00's. I've seen hundreds of shows on Londons Westend and Broadway in New York, and all over the world, and I have show programmes and playbills from every single one!
First Musical: Les Miserables. Fave Musical: Moulin Rouge.
Following on from the music fact, It's worth separating out Kylie! I've been a fan since 1987 watching her in Neighbours. I've seen her in concert 40 times, met her twice and have 2 tattoos of her; some lyrics from one of my favourite songs and a portrait on my leg. The portrait appeared in one of her coffee table books and was photographed by none other than Rankin at the Dazed studio in London! My dream shoot involves Kylie and a whole bunch of puppies!
I'm a big foodie and have been lucky enough to eat at some of the worlds best restaurants. If you ever get the chance to go to Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck, do it, WOW! But I love growing my own fruit and veg too. During COVID-19 lockdown it became a little bit of an obsession and at one point I was growing 26 kinds of fruit and veg in the garden, with fresh berries being my favourite home grown produce!
There's a big wide world out there and I want to discover as much of it as possible. New Zealand can feel like a long way from anywhere sometimes though, so it's just as well that I love flying, yes, even the plane food! One day I'll get an upgrade and sit a bit nearer the front of the aircraft haha! Favourite destinations: Too many to mention them all, but Paris, Mexico and Vancouver, Costa Rica were all amazing. Places I want to go but haven't yet: Antarctica & The Galapagos Islands.
The saying 'life is short, eat dessert first' is something I wholeheartedly agree with! Give me some chocolate, cake or patisserie and I'm a happy man! My husband trained as a pastry chef at Le Cordon Bleu and makes the best brownies in the world. On holiday in Paris, we made a list of all the patisseries he wanted to visit. We did them in a single day and ate no less that 24 cakes, pastries and macarons. The sugar crash was totally worth it!
Here’s a few answers to commonly asked questions from photographers.
I had an interest in photography since I was very young. Studied photography in art class at school and played with cameras and darkroom techniques which I loved doing.
I started a diploma of Professional Photography, but beyond learning the basics of composition and exposure, I really wasn't getting what I wanted out of it. It was very heavily based on studio, lighting and portraiture. I wasn't really interested in any of those things so I dropped out.
From there I concentrated on learning natural light, pet and wildlife photography and also shot a lot of landscapes. In those areas I am mostly self taught. But I did spend a lot of time out with the camera and friends sharing tips with each other.
It's a long story, but here goes...
In 1995 I started working as the head keeper at the local Bird Gardens. I always wanted to work with animals and this was the perfect job as I'd had birds at home since I was 10 or 11 and am a bit of a bird nerd. I did everything from feeding, working on breeding programmes for endangered species, a parrot show and a penguin show and I loved every minute.
It was really a desire to capture the beauty of the birds I worked with that it finally clicked and I realised my love of animals and photography were intrinsically linked.
Sadly The Bird Gardens closed down and in 1997 I went to work in the camera department at Boots. I started taking photography jobs in my spare time. Anything and everything. It was doing the odd portrait or wedding that completely solidified that I wanted to photograph animals.
After photographing my pets a lot, friends and family started asking me to photograph their furry family members. One friend worked at a local vet clinic, loved her photos and showed them to her colleagues. I got several bookings from people I didn't know and the rest is history!
I love to photograph out in nature. To spend time outdoors with dogs and their owners in the places they love to be. My style is a colourful celebration of dogs in their world and how they belong in it.
I'm a Fujifilm X ambassador and I absolutely love shooting with their cameras, especially my medium format GFX 50s. It captures so much detail that it almost feels like you could reach in and touch it! I also have my trusty Fujifilm X-T3. I use the medium format and 63mm lens for most of my more posed shots and my Dogorama®. The X-T3 is a great all rounder and I've started using it a lot for video.
I also have a Canon EOS R5 and combined with the RF 70-200mm, that is the combo I love to shoot action with.
I'm a manual shooter 99.9% of the time, on a very rare occasion, I might switch to Auto ISO or aperture priority.
As for focus modes, I'm usually shooting with continuous focus (AF-C) using a single point placed over the dogs eye. I also use Back Button Focus.
I shoot natural light almost exclusively. However I recently invested in an Ice Light and am now using that occasionally to give a bit of extra light towards the end of a session when the sun is setting.
I use a combination of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.
I download all my images into Lightroom and there I make basic adjustments; white balance, shadows/highlights, saturation etc. Then I export PSD files directly to Photoshop. There I work on anything that needs cloning, patch or spot healing, I sharpen the eyes, add a bit of extra floof to fur. The PSD is then saved back into Lightroom and I add the finishing touches, such as a vignette.
My full workflow is discussed in detail in the Sparkle Editing™ course which is available individually or as part of the Unleashed membership.
There's no holding back here! I want you to be the best you can be, as quickly as possible. That not only benefits you, but it benefits the whole industry too. The more pet photographers out the producing quality work, the more recognised this niche becomes. If you couldn't already tell, it's an industry I'm passionate about and a little obsessed with!
I honestly believe that we are stronger as an industry if we work together and share our knowledge and experiences.