Unleashed Education Blog

Shannon's Mentoring Session with Billie the Border Collie X

mentoring Nov 27, 2013

The first place I look for mentoring session models is in my commercial dog model database. I'd been wanting to use this special gal for a while! In her application form, her mum Kay had said:

"Bill is amazing, she loves agility and disc, her job is to play - as much as she can, she is my 'go girl'. Very self-entertaining and therefore self-rewarding- did I mention she is a Border Collie?"

Her extensive trick list was seriously impressive too!

"Sit, drop, stay, wait, weave poles, human leg weaving while walking, tunnel, dog walk, A-frame, hurdles, fetch and drop object into a basket etc, fetch and throw object back at you, open and close crate, disc, back up, spin, crawl, be sad, target, shake the paw, car wash (walk between my legs as I walk), can throw and catch an item by herself!"

My mentoring student was visiting from Melbourne so I decided to take her to New Farm Park for one of the sessions. It's a great place to shoot with heaps of variety - urban features, textured old buildings, parkland, gardens and grassy areas. We started off near the big red 'flood' sculpture around the river side of the Powerhouse. I just love coloured backgrounds and black and white dogs! Since we were shooting in the very early morning, the sun was just on the horizon so the light was fairly soft.

Shooting with auto white balance and with bright, bold colour can sometimes confuse the camera and you may end up with an unnatural looking white balance. Always shooting in RAW file format means you can adjust the white balance in Lightroom as much as you need to correct it, with no loss of image quality.

It's always good to work with owners or handlers who have a good knowledge of how to interact with dogs. Kay worked with Bill really well - rewarding her often and managing her energy. If you ever come across an owner who is less knowledgable, it's up to you to educate them about what you need from them during the session. This is something I talk about in my e-book Fetching Photos.

With the sun risen, we headed to a spot where we could filter the sunshine through a big tree - facing Bill out into an area of indirect illumination. The pinpoints of light on the leaves behind her created pretty bokeh.

Next, we visited a little nook with some fun textures and architectural features - brick, broken concrete and vines.

The big pink brick wall of the Powerhouse is a very popular spot to shoot - wedding and portrait photographers love it! Being the morning, the sun was on the other side of the building so this was in full shade, helping to keep the contrast down and allowing the soft pink textures of the wall to provide a high key background.

My favourite time with Bill was towards the end in the park, as she showed us just how agile she is with all her jumping and leaping! We had a long lead on her here but it has been Photoshopped out.

The same spot could also be used for some portraits with backlighting.

Shannon had this to say about her mentoring session experience:

"I would recommend Charlotte not only as a pet photographer but as a mentor as well. Charlotte was very open with her teaching, extremely knowledgeable and inspiring. I travelled from Melbourne for a few mentoring sessions and it was well worth the travel. Looking forward to working with Charlotte in the future."

Interested in learning more? You can find out more about my mentoring sessions here.

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