Travel Session ~ Archie the Shetland Sheepdog in Canberra

From the moment I read Archie’s questionnaire results, I knew he was going to be heaps of fun to photograph! This boy has done doggy dancing, obedience and rally-o and is a super stunning three year old Shetland Sheepdog.

The Canberra spring weather was quickly proving to be unreliable and true to form, when we first arrived at the location for Archie’s shoot, we were greeted by heavy dark clouds. It soon started to rain so we took shelter under the generous eaves of the National Library of Australia while we waited for it to pass. Before too long, the clouds passed over and the shower turned into a sun shower!

Seizing the opportunity, I asked Tegan to have Archie stand just at the end of the building, backlit by the emerging sun and with the last of the raindrops falling over him. When I was editing this image, I had this stuck in my head – “Raindrops keep falling on my head… because I’m free-eee!”

Strangely enough, after the session, Archie’s mum Tegan sent me a video of Archie doing some doggy dancing to the exact same tune. Go check out the YouTube video and see how clever these two are.


The sparkly sun shower soon passed and we were rewarded with a stunning double rainbow! We rushed to find the perfect spot and get Archie into position, but really we didn’t need to. This gorgeous rainbow stuck around for at least 20 minutes, far longer than any other I’ve seen. What an amazing start to the session.


We even had time to move to an even better spot!


Along the lake front there was a row of beautiful flowering trees and a conveniently placed garden bed just at the right height for Archie to jump up onto. With little dogs like Archie, it’s sometimes handy to be able to elevate them on something so they aren’t at ground level the whole time.


I think Archie must have been born for this modelling business. He contentedly sat up on the garden bed for us, checking out the goings-on. Tegan had warned me that he finds it difficult to relax when out and about, especially in busy areas where there’s lots of dogs and people around, but he managed it well and was an absolute star.


Anyone who knows me will know how much I love trees. I incorporate trees into my images often, as it’s possible to do so many visually interesting things with them. One of my favourite things to do is shoot up into the branches, creating a mass of coloured bokeh (circles of light) behind the subject. In this case, Archie wondering what on earth I was doing down there.


Just before we finished shooting in this area and moved onto the next, I spotted this incredible row of flags – called the International Flag Display – there are 90 flags in two rows representing all the countries with a diplomatic presence in the capital of Australia.

Archie was such a superstar, posing proudly in front of the flags for us. A true Canberra doggy!


A short drive in the car took us to our next spot – Aspen Island. I just love the way the late afternoon light slants through the railings of this gently curving bridge leading to the island.


You can just see the bell tower of the National Carillon in the background of this shot.


The main feature of this island is the National Carillon, a unique musical bell tower featuring 55 bells. It was a gift from the British government to the people of Australia to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Canberra. It was a testament to Tegan’s training ability that when the bells rang out while we were there, she immediately used positive association to impress on Archie that it was nothing to be afraid of. Those bells were loud!


The rest of the island featured some beautiful weeping willow trees that hung down to the water, creating a green screen to filter the late afternoon sunshine though.


Is this dog freaking gorgeous or what?!


Then it was time for Archie to show off his action man skills.


Archie has a bunch of tricks under his collar, which include: sit, down, spin/twist, jump in the air/on me, weave, go around, hi-5, shake, wave, speak, roll over, play dead, beg, back up, jump on object, jump over object, walk on my feet, fetch, kiss, touch, jump through hoop and go to a target. Phew!

We decided the spin trick was just the right one to show off his lovely coat in the late afternoon sunshine.


Although he’s inseparable from his gorgeous mumma, Archie isn’t super keen on cuddles (my dog is the same!) but he relented just this once and Tegan ended up with some lovely shots of them together. I love this little story from her questionnaire:

“I didn’t choose Archie, he chose me. When I went to view the litter, he fell asleep on my foot as if to say ‘you’re not going anywhere without me!’ and we have been inseperable ever since. He is my little shadow and never lets me out of his sight – he even lies up against the bathroom door (I can see his fur peeking out under the door). Archie is my best friend and brings so much happiness to me and his extended family, including his ‘grandparents’.”


Just as the sun was setting, we found a conveniently placed picnic table for Archie. Originally intending to create a silhouette, I actually prefer the “HDR” editing on this shot, balancing the subject with the much brighter sky through editing.


Sun showers and double rainbows, iconic architecture and natural features and a beautifully trained and gorgeous pup all combined to make this session with Archie and Tegan one of my absolute favourites of all time.