Model Session ~ Autumn the Australian Shepherd at Bribie Island
If you follow my blog and Facebook page, you might be aware that I keep a database of potential canine models, so if I am contacted by a commercial client looking for something specific, I may already have what they require without having to do a model call. Applicants must meet a bunch of criteria such as being able to sit, down, and stay on command, as well as being able to walk nicely on the lead and get along with other dogs and people and be confident in new situations.
When I received the application Esther sent through for her dog Autumn, I was super impressed! Occasionally I will contact the owners of outstanding-sounding dogs from my database and organise a session as a trial run to see how their qualifications on paper match up with being in front of the camera in a mock shoot. Autumn had a repertoire of tricks a mile long and once I saw the photos that accompanied the application, I just knew I had to meet her!
For this session, I wanted to head somewhere a bit different where I’d never shot before. Bribie Island north of Brisbane has some great sandy beaches, bushland areas and a really cool jetty, making it ideal. After a couple of postponements due to the weather, it came down the wire as Esther was just about to head overseas for a few months, so even though our last possible session date was super, mega, ridiculously windy, we went ahead with it anyway.
We started off in the partial shelter of the trees in a little park where obviously there used to be a functioning mini-railway. The kind of thing where families can have a picnic and watch the train cruise around with the kids on board. It obviously hadn’t been in operation for quite some time, but the picnic tables and tracks were still there, so we made use of them well. What’s the first thing you ask a well trained dog to do? Jump up on a picnic table, of course!
We followed the little railway line around as it wound through the bushland. I absolutely love working with dogs who have a really solid “stay”, so photographing Autumn was a breeze!
Being a working dog breed, Autumn is also very agile and co-ordinated. She had no trouble balancing on this tree stump, while looking super cute in the process.
The little train track even had a tunnel section through a hill!
Autumn’s most striking feature is her different coloured eyes. I always think of these as David Bowie eyes!
After we finished exploring the park, we headed up to the open beach at the south end of the island. We only spent a short while there due to the wind, it was relentless! Autumn had a ball racing around catching her frisbee. Unfortunately after a particularly wild throw, mostly due to the crazy wind, the frisbee ended up in the ocean and was quickly washed away by the strong tide. Oops, sorry about that Esther!
After showing me some of her agility skills by jumping over some logs, we all high-tailed it off the beach before we were sandblasted away.
Bongaree Jetty is located on the western side of the island, facing the mainland.
One of the reasons I was keen to shoot there was the light – the sun would be setting almost directly behind the jetty. While we waited for the sun to dip down towards the horizon, we had a little play around on the small beach next to the jetty.
Autumn’s impressive list of tricks includes but is not limited to (she learns new ones all the site): sit, down, down with head down, stay, fetch, catch and retrieve frisbee, soccer balls, tennis balls, cuz balls, etc, go to mat, touch targeting, stinky (Autumn will wave paw in front or next to her nose), shame on you (Autumn will bury face under pillow, blanket, etc), shake, little woof, big woof, go to mark, go find (scavenge hunt her treats around the house, or ‘search and rescue’ her cuz ball), come when called, watch, dig and bow! How awesome is that! Of course much credit for all this is due to the patience, enthusiasm and dedication of her owner, Esther.
Who Autumn is obviously devoted to!
The sun was finally getting into position.
So we headed to the jetty. Autumn showed me her “head down” trick as I shot in the direction of the sunlight.
Shooting from the other direction, I finally got the beautiful golden backlight I’d been waiting for! Sometimes I will envision a particular shot that I really want to get during a session, and for this session, this is the exact one I had in mind.
The wind had barely dropped off and the pontoons attached to the jetty were making the most hideous loud wailing noises. I wanted to try for some silhouettes on sunset so we jumped down a level towards the pontoons. I was half expecting Autumn to freak out a little at the crazy noises, ridiculous wind and water splashing everywhere, but no, she took it all in her stride like a true professional!
The jetty is right near some little shops and a restaurant, and just as we were leaving I noticed they’d turned on some strings of fairy lights. There was just enough natural light left for a couple of shots with them in the background. For the photography enthusiasts, this shot was taken on my Canon 50mm f1.4 lens, ISO 1000, 125th sec and wide open on f1.4. Definitely pushing the limits!
A huge thanks to Esther for bringing along Autumn for our shoot, I had a ball and it was such a pleasure working with such an amazing dog! Autumn has now had her status upgraded to “verified” in my commercial modelling database, meaning I will personally vouch for her should any commercial jobs come up that would suit.
If you have a well trained, happy, healthy and friendly dog who you think would make a great commercial model, and would like to be added to my database, head on over and fill out the application form. I’d love to hear from you!