Client Session ~ Bam Bam the Golden Retriever at the Gold Coast

Golden Retrievers rank very highly on my list of favourite breeds. They always have the loveliest temperaments, with that perfect mix of fun, goofy and when they get older; chilled and wise. At eight months old on the day of our shoot, Bam Bam was at that awkward stage between puppy and adult – just starting to look like an adult but still with a lot of puppy silliness! Luckily there is heaps of space for dogs to race around off-leash at the beach, so this is exactly what Bam Bam did for the first half hour or so.

Interspersed with digging and thoroughly rubbing his face in the sand for good measure.

The Spit on the Gold Coast is one of my absolute favourite places for dog photography sessions. It can get busy on weekends, but during the week it’s often fairly deserted and there’s a long stretch of beach that is a dedicated off-leash area for dogs. There’s a patrolled flagged bathing area for people, so you can get in and have a swim with your pup! The lifeguard towers make cool features in the backgrounds of photos too, setting the scene nicely.

Bam Bam is much loved by his mum Sally and dad Chris. On choosing him, they had this to say:

“Chris and I decided we wanted to buy a puppy and we started researching breads that would suit us best… We decided on a Labrador/ retriever and waited anxiously for someone to advertise puppies…. We were at breakfast one morning and I happened to stumble across an add and we went to see ten of the cutest puppies I have ever seen in my life… Bam Bam was the chubbiest little puppy he kissed us and wagged his little tail when we picked him up for a cuddle… They say you dog chooses you, we definitely chose each other… He has the funniest little personality… Both Chris and I love the little monkey to bits!!”

Living right near the ocean at Currumbin on the Gold Coast, Bam Bam gets to go to the beach every day – what a lucky boy!

You may have noticed a distinct lack of sunshine in these photos, quite different to my usual style.

We’d scheduled the shoot for the early morning on a Saturday morning and I awoke to stormy weather! By the time I’d driven down to the Gold Coast, the rain had mostly cleared but it was still quite overcast, with dark clouds threatening to crash the party. The light cloud cover never quite cleared – but I love the way the light turned out – it was almost as if the sun, in desperately trying to peek through the clouds, settled for asserting a gorgeous soft warm glow over the scene instead.

What I see through the lens doesn’t always translate to how the raw file is recorded and often in cloudy conditions, the images tend to have a colder blue cast to them. This can be easily brought back in the editing process to re-create the feeling of the light on the day – here’s a “before and after” that I shared on Facebook.


My session with Bam Bam is a good example of the kind of shots that are possible with the dog off-leash, with lots of candid “opportunistic” style shots, rather than posed portraits. We basically let him race around doing his thing while I followed and used a long lens to quickly catch whatever happened. More of a documentary (dogumentary?) style, it’s possible to get some lovely natural moment using this method.

Along with those impromptu silly moments!

Whenever there is water and dogs, there’s the possibility of fun “shake” photos! The best way to capture these is to call the dog towards you as soon as they come out of the water. This ensures they’ll be facing you directly when they stop and shake, which gives the best effect when frozen with a fast shutter speed.

The sand-pumping jetty at the Spit is great to incorporate in some shots for interest, especially when you can create some perspective with the pylons receding out to sea. This was one of the few shots we actually spent some time trying to set up and achieve – convincing Bam Bam to stay in the one spot was challenging – no leash Photoshopped out here!

One of my favourite areas of the Spit is the dunes and bushland behind the beach. After rain, the grass is so green and lush, and the shrubs and small trees make interesting backgrounds. And of course, sticks. Lots of sticks for doggies to chew!

Luckily I managed to get his attention away from the sticks for a few moments with some delicious treats – what Golden Retriever can pass up treats? Not this one!

I love trying new things in my business and for this shoot, I decided to create a little montage, including all the images in the shoot. There was a mixed response on Facebook when I posted this – some people loved it while others thought it was a bit busy? It would need to be printed as a large wall art piece I think, so the images were not too small. Let me know what you think in the comments – if this were your dog, would you like to have this up on the wall at home? Or would you prefer to choose one favourite instead?

Facebook Comments

  • Carol T. Baker

    21 January, 2015 at 5:45 am Reply

    Charlotte, if it were me, I’d prefer a simple grid of maybe 12-16 favorite images, all the same size, or maybe 1-2 larger images + the rest smaller. I like a simple, unified look, and including all in one poster or large print would be too busy for me, especially with all the variation of sizes, poses, etc. i’d much rather have an album and 2 wall portraits!

  • BarbaraMichael Whitwell

    21 January, 2015 at 8:00 am Reply

    Makes me wish we had taken Riot to a beach to get some of those “shaken but not stirred” photos…

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