Personal ~ 2015 Wrap-up
Reflecting upon the past year, I am grateful for another wonderful year of being in business, following my dream as a pet photographer. It was an eventful year for me personally as well, so in addition to a Best of 2015 post with all my favourite client images I thought I’d share a little personal insight into my year.
I took a break from work in January as the end of 2014 was super busy for me, plus it can be tricky scheduling in afternoon photo sessions during storm season in Brisbane. I decided my gear needed some updating, and spent some time testing out new lenses on my own pets – Araya the calico cat and Luna the Great Dane. I’ll share some of Luna later on, but here’s a few favourites of my naughty but super spunky kitty Araya.
As you can probably tell, she’s a big fan of draping herself all over the couch on the deck. But as long as I have a crunchy dead leaf or something equally as fascinating, I have her attention. The perfect lens testing subject!
The baby kookaburras didn’t escape my attention either. We have a large kookaburra population where we live and I love hearing the adults teaching the babies to “laugh” around this time of year. They are so cute!
In February I raised a brood of tadpoles that my mum hatched after finding the eggs a puddle on her patio. For about a month my dining room table was converted into a tadpole haven, which Araya found rather fascinating! The exact number of froglets I raised and released back into the wild escapes me, but it was somewhere around 40. It was fascinating watching them turn from wiggly little creatures into bright green froglets. I like to think that some of them survived into adulthood, though the pessimist in me thinks they I may have just provided a tasty snack to the plentiful birdlife. Ah well, such is life! If even one made it though, it was totally worthwhile doing.
In March I took a flight over the Tasman to visit my sister Nicola in Dunedin, New Zealand. We had a wonderful few days reconnecting and even took her daughter’s dog Sky, who she puppy-sits often, out for a photo session just down the coast at Taieri Mouth. We got lucky with a clear, crisp sunny day and Sky had a ball racing around on the sand flats and exploring the dunes.
It was amazing for me to see the beautiful bond that had developed between Nicola and Sky during their time together, after Nicola’s life has so far been filled mainly with many smaller furry loves – her much doted-upon guinea pigs! Nic has recently taken the plunge and adopted her own dog – a beautiful and sweet young Mastiff cross called Bree. I can’t wait to meet her when I visit next!
As we were leaving, I grabbed a couple of non-dog shots. Such a beautiful area of the world, I just wish it was a bit warmer!
In June we headed off to Darwin for a good friend’s wedding party – a three day event on the banks of the Mary River. Although we also visited the stunning Litchfield National Park while we were over there, I didn’t take any shots with my professional gear, instead opting for being fully present and grabbing just a few iPhone snaps. A trip to the Mary River wouldn’t be complete without a cruise on the river and some crocodile spotting however, so I did take my camera and long lens for that. It was an interesting way to spend my birthday!
On the 24th of July I married the love of my life, Martyn, in a small but beautiful wedding at one of my favourite spots in Brisbane. I invited my wedding photographer friend and fellow animal lover Lyndal Carmichael along to capture the day, and love the resulting images. Here are just a few of my favourites.
A little over a month later, in late August, we welcomed our new furry family member. You can read more about Fletcher the Australian Shepherd in his introductory blog post, that also features a bunch of cute photos of him at 11 weeks old, but here’s a couple from the day we brought him home at 8 weeks – guaranteed to make you squee!
If you want to follow Fletcher’s adventures, he has his (very popular) own Instagram account @fletchertheaussie
We had five beautiful weeks when our little furry family was complete – Luna, Araya the cat and Fletcher – then on the 25th of September, my gorgeous girl Luna the Great Dane passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. One minute she was sniffing around in the front yard, happy and full of life, the next she collapsed and was gone. I suspect it was a heart attack or stroke, as it was instant. Such a shock. I’d always expected her to be there while Fletcher grew up and it saddened me so much that he would miss out on her calm and easygoing influence. I miss her more than words can describe – she left a huge hole in my heart – but I know that I gave her an amazing life filled with comfort, love and all her favourite things.
Some of the first photos I took in 2015 were of my girl Luna while testing out a new lens. In her element, swimming at the river and playing with big sticks, followed by a leisurely wander through the park with me. This is how I will always remember her.
Since losing my sweet girl, I’ve made a real effort to keep busy and with a puppy around the place, it’s meant lots of adventures out exploring our local area. Since I live in in a semi-rural area of north-west Brisbane, I often drive places to take Fletcher for a walk to help with his socialisation and expose him to different experiences. I spent lots of time on Google maps scoping out my local area, which resulted in the happy side effect of discovering some great new photo locations for my clients as well.
Here’s a small selection of shots of Fletcher, out and about, exploring new places and learning how to be a good photographer’s model.
I even managed to sneak in a shot of Fletcher and his beloved dad, my husband Marty. Fletcher LOVES his dad – when we went to see the puppies he immediately planted himself at Marty’s feet and looked up at him adoringly. Not much has changed, dad is still #1!
I learned a very important lesson in 2015 as well. Watermark everything – even iPhone snapshots! You may have seen this image getting around as a “brother from another mother” or “sister from another mister” meme. It was originally taken without permission off Fletcher’s Instagram account and though I was initially rather indignant that I wasn’t receiving any sort of credit for it, I have come to the conclusion that I can’t really do much about it now. And really, it’s great that it’s brought so much amusement and joy to people all over the world. Here is the original (minus the bad cropping, terrible quality and crappy meme text) for your viewing pleasure.
And a recent photo of the terrible twosome. If you want to see more, Fletcher’s Instagram account is the place to go.
For the last 3 years I’ve photographed Redcliffe animal shelter Peninsula Animal Aid‘s “Santa Paws” fundraiser, but since I’m not the most Christmassy person, I don’t usually hop in front of the camera. I invited my mum Pamela and her dog Tashi along this year however, and may have inadvertently become a little caught up in the Christmas spirit. Hence the resulting family santa photo with the dogs. This is the first and maybe the last time, so laugh it up while you can!
So I have one final bit of news for 2015.
I keep in touch with Fletcher’s awesome breeder Helen from Wajoma Australian Shepherds and in November saw that she’d had another litter – a beautiful combination of red and black tri-colours and merles. I wasn’t originally thinking of adding a new furry family member, but I kept coming back to the photo of one of the little red merle girls. Telling myself I was silly to consider another pup so close in age to Fletcher, I talked it out with some close friends who said that since they weren’t siblings (different mums and dads) and since they were different sex, it could just work, just as long as I have time to spend with them individually while they’re still young.
I was still debating with myself on the practicalities of the idea, when Luna visited me in a dream. I’ve had this happen on the rare occasion with my Dane girls and always it seems they are visiting me for a purpose. I’ll just say that I was left with the impression that Luna had given me her approval.
Personality is important to me and when I went to meet the puppies for the first time, I was more than willing to ditch the idea if the little girl I’d had my eye on wasn’t the right one. But she was the sweetest little thing and sat contentedly in my arms when I held her. After another visit at 5 weeks old and lots of fun with Helen taking photos of the whole litter, I’d made the decision to welcome her into our family.
Introducing – Opal. She comes home on January the 13th and I couldn’t be more excited! And those blue eyes? They will always serve as a link to and constant reminder of my beautiful Luna Blue.
So already 2016 is shaping up to being a very big year! With Opal coming home in January I’ll also be starting the shoots for my Tails of Brisbane fundraising coffee table book project, which will run all the way until the middle of the year. I have 70 shoots to complete for the book and my fundraising target is $5000 for the rescue organisations I work with.
In April I’ll be heading off to Barcelona, Spain for “Barkelona” – two back-to-back four day intensive pet photography workshops with fellow pet photographers Nicole Begley and Kaylee Greer. Very excited about that one!
Whatever you get up to in 2016, I wish you a happy, fulfilling, exciting and safe year – filled with all the good things in life. Love and licks from our furry family to yours.