The last time I wrote a yearly wrap-up was in 2015 (which was a pretty eventful year) but since then, I’ve been so time poor due to various projects, the next couple of years missed out.
Towards the end of 2018, with my workload finally starting to ease, I vowed to get this written and even though it’s now two weeks into 2019 😲 – I figured better late than never!
2018 AIPP Queensland Epson Pet/Animal Photographer of the Year
July 2017 marked the anniversary of my 10th year of business as a pet photographer, so to celebrate, I decided to finally join Australia’s association for professional photographers – the AIPP. I submitted my portfolio in December 2017 and shortly afterwards, received notification that I had successfully completed the process. It’s official, I am now an Accredited Professional Photographer!
This means I now have access to a whole network of professional and educational opportunities and can enter the state and national photography awards run each year by the AIPP. I decided to dive right in, and entered the 2018 AIPP Queensland Epson Professional Photography Awards in March 2018.
My experiences with the awards were documented in a rather long blog post which you can read here, but the short version is, I came away with a Silver and three Silver with Distinction awards for the four images I entered. I also won the Pet/Animal category, so am officially the 2018 AIPP Queensland Epson Pet/Animal Photographer of the Year!
At the awards ceremony I received a lovely personalised certificate to frame, and a very classy trophy. My award winning images are now framed up and ready to display – I just need to find some vacant wall space amongst all my samples!
High time for some dog photography eye candy in this post, so here’s my winning images.
I was so excited to win, as three of the shots were action shots (not often seen in these awards) and the last two were actually shot while filming my educational video series. All of them were shot outdoors with natural light.
Pet photography education
In addition to offering private pet photography shoots to clients I also teach pet photography, both in person through mentoring and workshops, and online through e-books, daily tips and videos.
In mid 2017 I started my RealShoots course comprising of ten “real” photoshoots, professionally filmed and made into TV episode length instructional videos. Each episode also included editing how-to videos and additional learning resources.
When I first hatched the idea, I was thinking each episode might take me about a week to create, so releasing them monthly would be a breeze. How wrong I was!
Each episode instead took me over 3 weeks to create. It was so much more work than I ever imagined. Despite the extra work, I was so encouraged by the response by the pet photography community to my new online teaching offering, I forged ahead and completed all ten episodes, releasing the season finale right on schedule in July 2018.
Ready for some more eye candy?
Here’s some of my very favourite images from my RealShoots series. Want to know how these were created? You might just have to go check out RealShoots. All ten episodes (and some fun bonuses) are available in the Complete Course, or you can purchase individual episodes.
Random bit of trivia – out of the 14 dogs I photographed for RealShoots – 6 of them (nearly half!) had names starting with B. Weird, right?
Pet photography mentoring
RealShoots wasn’t my only teaching focus in 2018. I also mentored two wonderful up-and-coming pet photographers who visited from across the other side of the Pacific.
Kim came all the way from Canada and we spent nearly a week having an absolute ball together, shooting mock client sessions and delving deep into the editing process, while having some great chats about all things dog photography over delicious food.
After breaking the ice photographing my Aussie Shepherds, Fletcher and Opal, we next met up with Luna and Mae, two beautiful retrievers who continually impressed us with their high level of obedience!
The next day we met up with Roxy for an early morning session.
Then finally we shot an afternoon beach session with Steve the Boxer and his mini-me, Moose.
Kim also has a dog walking business and is very good at multi tasking – as evidenced here giving Moose cuddles while photographing Steve! 😆
My second mentoring student was Sandra, hailing from the States. Hers was a flying visit so we had just the one shoot together, using my furry terrors as the models.
We shot quite a lot of action, which is something Sandra wanted to concentrate on mainly, but we also had time to capture some portraits. I just love this shot taken by Sandra of my two in their natural habitat and in their natural state – soaking wet – at “their” creek. Sandra gifted me a beautiful acrylic block of this one – wow!
In other teaching news, in June I was honoured to be the very first guest interviewed on a new pet photography podcast called The Pet Photographers Club, run by my fellow “Tails” book creators, Caitlin and Kirstie. You can listen to this here.
With my focus being on teaching throughout much of the year, unfortunately I didn’t have nearly as much time for client work as I would have liked. However, I did manage to squeeze in a few client shoots here and there.
Here’s some of my favourite shots taken at client shoots throughout 2018 – I also threw in a few extras from the last months of 2017. All photos were taken with my Canon 1D-x Mark II camera body and all use 100% natural light.
Last but certainly not least (though she is very tiny for an equine) is Pebbles the Miniature Pony. I had the most wonderful afternoon with Pebbles and her mum and dad up on Mount Tamborine under the Jacarandas. 😍
Speaking of Jacarandas – you might spot a few purple-infused Spring images in that lot featuring these beautiful trees. I am a little obsessed with this look and will be offering something pretty cool in 2019 – if you agree, you should jump on my mailing list (form at the bottom of this page) to stay in the loop!
Pet rescue photography, events and fundraising
In 2018 I continued my commitment to giving back, donating my time to adoptable pet photography and fundraising events. I photographed adoptable dogs for Brisbane arctic breed rescue organisation Shamroq – my favourite place to photograph these dogs is in the pine forests north of Brisbane – don’t you agree they look right at home in the forest?
With the lovely Danni from Happy Flying Dog Photography assisting, I also ran the Northern Lights themed photo booth at the annual Shamroq Mally Muster fundraising event in July, resulting in lots of fun images like these and some much-needed funds raised for the rescue. You can check out a fun behind-the-scenes speed edit video on YouTube here.
For Redcliffe animal shelter, Peninsula Animal Aid, I photographed dogs adopted through the shelter (and now in their happy forever homes, yay!) for the 2019 calendar, for the seventh year running. My friend and fellow photographer Lyndal photographs the cats – we make a good team! There are still calendars available to purchase from here.
Also for PAA, for the 6th year running I was the photographer for their Santa Paws fundraising event. This year we worked super hard (thanks Anne) to improve the event with a new booking system and an upgraded Santa set – we even managed to secure the REAL Santa! Seriously, this guy deserves a special mention for generously donating his time to hanging out with the dogs for the day.
Though commercial work hasn’t been a big focus of mine over the last couple of years, I have had three of my images featured on big-time pet magazine covers in the States – Dogster and sister publication Catster.
Along with playful Logan, long time followers might recognise my kitty Araya (who now lives with my friend Lyndal) on the cover above, who then went on to become the September/October 2018 cover star of Catster as well!
I guess they must like my photos, because I was asked to be their feature photographer for their 2019 calendar, which is sent out to all Dogster subscribers. I was so honoured and excited! They are a wonderful company to deal with and also happily sent me extras for me to gift to the owners of the dogs featured. I even have one up on my wall – my dog Fletcher is Mr October!
Getting away from it all
What would a yearly wrap-up post be without a little insight into what I got up to outside of dogs and photography?
Even though we live in “the bush” already – about half an hour outside of Brisbane on 2 acres of hilly gum tree bushland – my husband and I both still loving getting away from it all, camping, bushwalking and dirt bike riding.
In 2018 we finally took the plunge and bought a camper trailer and a 4WD adventure vehicle – a Toyota FJ Cruiser. Just after Easter we took our new setup away for it’s first trip, down to Nundle State Forest in New South Wales (near Tamworth).
In August we headed off to Ireland for our good friends’ wedding. Our Irish friends live in Australia but were married surrounded by family in their home country, so we thought why not kill two birds with one stone – it would be a good excuse for a holiday!
I’ll try not to bore you with too many holiday snaps, but this photo sums up our trip pretty well. Beer and castles!
And of course lots of amazing food.
Here are some of the beautiful landscapes and historic sites we explored. All taken with iPhone and edited in Snapseed. Who needs an SLR anyway?
My last trip for the year was actually business related, but enjoyable nonetheless! In late November I flew to Queenstown, New Zealand and met up with Craig Turner-Bullock who runs Christchurch-based pet photography business Furtography. With his local knowledge, he’s helping us out with locations and dog models for Barkzealand, the latest instalment in our out-of-this-world pet photography retreat series, running over two weeks in March and April 2019.
Location scouting was our number one task and wow did we do a thorough job! Over the 6 days we spent in Queenstown, we drove over 1000km, walked close to 50km and climbed the equivalent of 313 flights of stairs, in search of the perfect locations for us to shoot at during the retreats.
It’s always handy to test out locations with actual live models, so Craig lined up some willing participants for us. I just loved this boy – Ollie the Border Collie – who modelled for us at Shotover River.
Then Milo modelled for us as we explored a few shooting possibilities along Crown Range Road and Cardrona Valley.
I don’t want to spoil the fun too much for our attendees, but here’s a few panoramic vistas of the amazing locations in and around Queenstown, taken with my trusty iPhone and edited in Snapseed. The beautiful flowers you see are called Lupins – unfortunately they won’t be there when we visit in Autumn – but there may be some colourful leaves instead.
We also drove up the Remarkables and even found some snow!
I have to say I absolutely fell in love with Queenstown. The landscapes were more stunning than you can imagine and the vibe of the town is electric. There’s also some fantastic wineries, the beer is seriously good and the food is even better. Oh, and there’s all those adventure activities too if you’re that way inclined! Barkzealand attendees – you’re in for a treat. 😉
The other side of the lens
I saw a lot of Craig in 2018! In October, he visited me in Brisbane and we spent a thoroughly enjoyable few days hanging out, talking shop, and of course photographing dogs! Namely my two furry terrors, Australian Shepherds Fletcher and Opal.
I have way too many favourites, but here are a small selection. These first shots are from a mission into the city – or rather over the river from the city at Kangaroo Point. For once I wasn’t the one carrying the heavy bag of equipment up flights of ridiculously steep stairs!
I even managed to talk my husband into a family photo shoot with the pooches. For our family session, we spent a lovely morning at the creek just down the road from our house where I often take the dogs on adventures.
We chose this image to be printed as a canvas for our wall at home – I just adore the relationships captured in this shot!
Let this serve as a friendly reminder to my photographer friends – make sure you get on the other side of lens every so often. We spend so much time capturing and preserving precious memories for our clients that we often forget to do the same for our own families. Why not arrange a photo session exchange with another photographer, whose work you admire? I’ll be photographing Craig and his husband Chris with their dog and three cats in just a couple of months when I head over the ditch for Barkzealand.
Aussie Aussie Aussie
It’s no secret I am slightly Australian Shepherd obsessed. My own two furry terrors have their own Instagram account that has more followers than all my business accounts combined! Whenever I get a chance to meet up with other Aussie owners for a frantic and furry playdate, I always try to make it happen, and on this occasion, I took my camera along so we could get an awesome group shot as a potential calendar cover for an online competition. We didn’t end up winning, but we did end up with a pretty awesome photo.
I also had the opportunity to photograph a litter of Aussie pups from Fletcher and Opal’s breeder, Wajoma Australian Shepherds. These cuties are all in their new homes now, but if you are after a quality Australian Shepherd and understand the requirements of the breed (and importantly, aren’t picky about colour) then get in touch with Helen. We can’t recommend her and her beautiful dogs enough!
Happy new year
For the transition from 2018 to 2019, we packed up the camper trailer and the dogs and headed off the grid to a beautiful camping spot by the river, deep in Styx River Forest, about an hour from Armidale in New South Wales.
The camping spot is 4WD accessible only and has no facilities – totally fine with us – and it meant for most of the time we had it completely to ourselves!
Just before we left, I made a last minute decision to take the plunge into something I’d been considering for a while – a mirrorless camera! I ended up deciding on the Fujifilm X-T3 and two lenses; the 16-55mm f2.8 and the 90mm f2. Needless to say, much of the time camping was spent testing out the new gear on my always-willing dog models, who spent the whole time constantly in and out of the river. I think if it were up to them, we never would have left!
It was a lovely, peaceful and relaxing way to bring in the new year. We even had a New Years day rainbow!
What’s in store for 2019?
Towards the end of 2018 I came to the realisation that while it’s super rewarding to accomplish large projects, it’s also really important to have a good work-life balance. There are only so many hours in the day and though it’s possible to “borrow” extra work hours from your leisure, exercise and family time, time and time again I’ve been reminded that you almost never end up paying them back.
In 2019 my mission is to refrain from getting into more “time debt” and in the process, see if I can also pay a little bit back into the “me” time bank.
This means I have made the decision to defer starting work on another online dog photography course I’d been planning. Instead, I will finally finish my new natural light, on-location dog photography e-book that has been repeatedly been pushed to the back burner over the last few years. I can’t give an exact date, but the replacement for my previous books Fetching Photos and Dog Shots will finally be finished this year – and just quietly – it’s going to be awesome!
There’s no way I am missing out teaching Barkzealand in March/April with Nicole and Kaylee though, and I am so excited to meet all our new students and catch up with alumni from past retreats – coming up in just a few short months!
In 2019 I am also planning on restoring the balance between servicing private clients through Charlotte Reeves Photography, and teaching. I’ve put close to zero effort into marketing and growing my own photography business for quite a while now and it’s time to address that, so I can continue growing as a photographer as well as an educator.
I’d like to extend a huge thank you to all the clients who I have taken on during this super busy period. My clients are the best!
Whatever you decide to get up to in 2019, I hope it’s enjoyable – don’t work too hard and remember to take some time out for yourself.