Catching a moment or creating a memory?

Wilberforce is a Constant Delight

This little fellow is a constant delight. His name is Wilberforce. He’ll be two years old come July, and we got him from the ShihTzu breeder we got our oldest from, Amadeus. They breed beautiful dogs.

Wilberforce has always been talkative (lots of expressions in an almost constant stream) and a comedian. If anyone is going to get into trouble, it’s him! Despite him stealing the diffuser for one of my photography flashes yesterday, and chewing it into a useless state, I still love him. Sure, he owes me, but the payback will be in laughter and cuddles. And I can buy another diffuser on eBay.

Here we see his tendency to get as much out of life as possible demonstrated. He catches the first ball, then tries for the second ball without dropping the first. I know some people like that. They are larger than life and always want more!

Will I remember this moment?

This video will go into my personal Flickr account under ‘Pets 2017’. Will I still use Flickr in ten years time? I really don’t know. Chances are I won’t as I’ve used it for about ten years now and I think the way we store and browse media will change. Them there’s also the absolute mass of media we constantly accrue on our phones, tablets and digital cameras. Thousands of files each year for the average person. Many thousands if you’re under thirty or keeping up with that age group!

A Moment Captured or a Memory Created?

So is this a ‘moment’ I captured or a ‘memory’ I created? I guess that depends on how much I value it. From my experience, that value is composed of a few different things :

  1. Was the making is the memory enjoyable? Did it last now than a few moments so you could savor it? Sure, extremely funny moments lodges in our minds vividly in an instant, but in general it takes some savoring of the moment to deepen the emotional registration. It’s like your first kiss. If it’s a quick, embarrassed peck, there may not be an emotional memory; but if it’s a deep, warm, engaging epiphany with a lingering head-spin, you’ll probably remember it forever!
  2. Is the result of the memory something good? If that first kiss leads to a life long love affair, it’s a fair guess you will prize the memory.
  3. Is the memory captured in such a way that you have a really good quality reminder if it?
  4. Is that reminder easily accessible? Is it something that brings you constant enjoyment?

I’d like to think this clip of Wilberforce will be enjoyed by many of my friends as we post it on social media (why does my phone want to show suicidal media?) . It will give many of us a chuckle. But that will probably be the last time anyone but my immediate family sees it. I may see it on the odd occasion, but it will probably be ‘stumbled upon’ rather than planned.

Reflecting on my Pet Photography

This, dear reader, takes me back to the reason I do pet photography. I want to create high quality,  enjoyable memories that my customers will regularly savour and share with friends. I want my artwork to bring pleasure to people’s lives. I want my customers to look at my prints and remember the photography session like a wonderful first kiss, a pleasurable and distinctive ‘first time’ memory shared by owner(s) and pet(s). And hopefully, that first session will make you come back again for more; be it other pets, an annual portrait or even custom Christmas Cards.

Why do I compare the photo shot to the memory if a first kiss? Because both have potential for significant emotional enjoyment and lasting impact:

Goal : Your enjoyment of the shoot

Firstly, I actually think on and review my photo shoots to try and make them more enjoyable for the customer each time. It’s a culture of constant improvement. I incorporate things that worked to enhance the end photographic result; but also things that the customer derived pleasure from. Wedding photographers get to make the shoot a wonderful experience for their customers, and regards the pleasure of the shoot as an important part of their service. I think pet photographers should think this way too because there’s a strong emotional element there. It’s not all about the end artwork, it’s about the crafting of a memory that lives with the artwork. I want you to truly be carried away by the experience of the photo shoot, and be thoroughly ‘in the moment’.

Goal : Artistic Creativity

Most photographers who take time over shooting their images are creative people. I’ve been a photographer for a long time, going back to dad building me my own black and white photo lab after not having the one at my high-school to use once I graduated. I’ve done portraits, landscapes, nature shots, shop front and panoramic interiors, hotels and motels, virtual tours, products and more. You get a feel for images, but pet photography really gets you thinking all over again.

As a pet photographer, I have to be creative with angles and composition, but I also have the pets and their owners to interact with. Getting a feel for the relationship between owner and dog (for example) is interesting, because all owners and dogs are different, and interact differently. Some owners want studio shots that are highly defined, classical looking or maybe quirky & trendy. Others want a portrait in an outside setting, or an actions shot of the dog running, jumping or splashing through water. Each of these has it’s own technical and artistic challenges, and to me it’s a lot of fun understanding you and your dog; getting the interaction and ideas you may have; and creating something really above and beyond what you ever thought of for your pet.

I’ve been a member of a professional pet photography community for a few years now. I get ideas and encouragement there. I’m also a constant viewer of training videos to help refine technique. Lastly, when it mattered the most, in early days of serious pet photography, I was privileged to get a bit of encouragement and feedback from two famous pet photographers based in the USA. When you really want to be outstanding, it;’s a great thing to have a few legends give you a pat on the back, encouragement and ideas.

I’m always open to new ideas for customers, so whatever you have in mind, share it with me. I’ll certainly share shots from my previous shoots, from other international pet photographers, and my own ideas too because I want your shoot to be just amazing!

Goal : Technical Perfection

I do everything I can to ensure the images I create are of the highest possible quality. I want the images I produce to provide a solid, warm, emotional link back to the enjoyable experience of the photography session. In that respect, it’s again like wedding photography. The images the photographer produces are of a special day, and when the photographer sits with the couple to decide which images they want printed, the warm memories of the day are pleasurably reinforced and sustained by the images professionally captured of those poignant moments. To this end, I’ve recently invested again in the new Pentax K-1 full frame 36mp DSLR camera and the new Pentax 24-70 f/2.8 lens (over $5,000), to compliment my existing Pentax based gear. The results are astonishing, but only achieved with much study and practice.

Goal : Wonderful, distinctive papers and other creative print options

It’s not enough for me to capture wonderful, artistic, quality images and print them on newspaper stock! Newspaper clippings always have rough color, lack detail and deteriorate quickly. Cheap photographic papers are not much better.  If I’m going to print an image that’s so important to my customers, and which frankly I pour my heart and soul into, it has to go on really high quality photographic stock that replicates color faithfully, has beautiful depth and tone and is able to replicate the finest detail of the digital image I so carefully took. In late 2016, I moved from a major paper manufacturer to a European manufacturer with a distributer in Victoria. The company is called SIHL, and the paper I use for most of my portraits is called SIHL Masterclass Lustre. It’s not your average paper. You won’t look at my prints and think they are much like the full gloss prints you get from most professional photographers who use the big commercial labs. I choose this paper because it is distinctive and makes my prints look awesome. It’s a beautiful way to print pet portrait images. I also print most images myself, as I want control over the final product. I think you’ll like what you see.

Goal : The absolute best for you and your home

Lastly, in order for the photographic artwork to provide lasting enjoyment, the way I print it must be accessible. In an age where we have media thrust in front of our eyes all day long, I think it’s vital we have things in our homes that cause us to pause, to smile and enjoy warm memories, and to appreciate what we have or even what might have passed. That means producing photographic artwork to hang in your home as you would a family portrait or painting you fell in love with and brought home ; not to bury in a box, but to hang where you can see it easily; to savour and enjoy.

Goal : A fun Artwork Selection Session

I visit all my local customers in their homes, and I often suggest people talk to me about their lifestyle and what’s currently adorning their walls. When I come to your home after the photo shoot to have our artwork session, it’s to create another good memory. I’ll have already have culled the photographs down to technically good shots; rated them; and given them good photographic treatment. I’ll be showing you high quality pictures on my photographic tablet so you can see the beautiful depth and colour a print will bring.

Seeing the end results of the photo shoot for the first time, you’ll rate the photos and mark (with a love heart ♥) ones you really ‘must have’. By the time you’ve rated the photos, you are down to a select few that really do something good for you. It’s from those photos, we’ll decide on artwork. You’ll decide on photographic or fine art prints (like on a subtly textured linen based paper), and decide the sizes you want for each. You may even want a throw rug or other creative option I offer. The type and size of print will depend on wall space, average viewing distance, maybe fitting in with existing artwork and definitely competing with that big TV you stare at every night!!!

In the end, my mission as a pet photographer is to provide you with beautiful, professional artwork of high quality, artistic images of pets you really love; from a photo session you really enjoyed. You’ll love and treasure your photographic artwork for years.

To see more about Four Foot Fotos pet photography, Ballarat; visit