Creating ‘Pawtraits’ – Part II
A few weeks ago, guest blogger & media photographer Maria Slough shared some images from her recently launched ‘Pawtraits’ exhibit, featuring the likes of Michelle Collins, Simon Callow and Martin Clunes. This week, Maria is back to share the second round of ‘Pawtraits’…over to you Maria!
”For me the most wonderful thing about photography is that you get to take a moment in time and create something that lasts forever. It has been such an honour witnessing these moments as I created The Pawtraits Exhibition™.
Pen Farthing and Patch
When Pen Farthing broke up a dog fight whilst on active duty in Afghanistan in 2006, his life was destined to change forever. The following year Nowzad Dogs was formed and is the only official animal shelter in Afghanistan.
I wanted Pen’s Pawtrait to represent the immense love and compassion he has for animals by featuring something relevant to his story. To achieve this include a unique prop or piece of clothing such as the Afghan Pakol that Pen is wearing.
Mark Foster and Bailey & Latoya and Teazel
By placing Mark in the water I was able to bounce some reflective light from the water back into Bailey’s face to highlight his nose while a flash gun created slight definition in his dark eyes.
Owen Howkins and Haatchi & Stuart Kenny and Sky
My passion is storytelling within a photograph and while creating the exhibition I witnessed so many beautiful relationships between people and animals. The now famous story of Owen and his three legged dog Haatchi has touched the hearts of people worldwide and their Pawtrait is raising awareness for The Mayhew Animal Home.
To emphasise relationships within a photograph keep the framing of your shots tight and be ready to capture unusual facial expressions within a photograph. The Pawtrait of Sky gently holding Stuarts nose is raising awareness for NSARDA Kent, a charity that trains domestic dogs to be air scenting search dogs.
Michael Mansfield QC , Gertrude, Bonnie and Clyde
Ironically when capturing Michael Mansfield’s Pawtrait for Viva! the biggest challenge was keeping up with the speed that Gerturde and her babies were moving across the desk in all directions!
In similar circumstances set your camera to continuous shooting or burst mode on your Smartphone to capture as many shots as possible. This helped me capture the relationship between Michael and Gertrude with both of them looking straight down the lens.
Brian May CBE and Harry
Harry the badger had been recently rescued so to make sure the photo didn’t impact on his rehabilitation process back into the wild, the shot had to be captured quickly. Preparation was vital.
I took three shots of Brian May before Harry was brought in and this shot was the third shot captured. In similar circumstances take time to choose your light source and backdrop and take a couple of test shots to check you are happy with all the elements before the main subject of your picture arrives. Their Pawtrait raises awareness for Save Me Trust.
Sarah Miles and Jimmy
Jimmy is a Medical Detection Dogs dog. Sarah suffers from diabetes. Jimmy alerts Sarah whenever her blood glucose levels change. He sits directly in front of her until she tests her blood. They share the most inspirational partnership and I wanted to create a dramatic yet intimate picture to personify this.
The picture was taken from near ground level on a wide lens. Experiment with different angles to alter the atmosphere in your pictures and use fixed features to add dynamics to a shot. By cropping the end of the bench in the picture an element of infinity was added to the end result.
Virginia Mckenna OBE and The Guardian & Michael Morpurgo OBE and Joey
The obvious challenge with these two Pawtraits was that I was photographing animals that weren’t real. The Guardian started life as a piece of fallen oak and over two days sculptor Simon O’Rourke created the Lion with a face full of emotion and the presence of a living creature, to represent all that Virginia and the Born Free Foundation represent – ‘Keep Wildlife In The Wild’.
This Pawtrait was shot on a telephoto lens. I wanted to try and capture the kind of photograph that you would if photographing animals in the wild. You can re-create this if you have a dog or a cat. Position yourself on your stomach and take the photograph of them through some grasses or from the side of a garden bush to add a fun perspective to your picture.
The final Pawtrait this week is of Joey the War Horse and his literary creator, children’s author Michael Morpurgo for The Orangutan Foundation UK.
I travelled to the New London Theatre and was lucky enough to photograph them both just before an evening performance. Working with the talented team that bring Joey to life on a daily basis was amazing. Joey may be a puppet but as anyone who has seen the show will agree, you cannot help but respond to him emotionally.
A top tip for every photograph that you take is to stop a moment and identify your own emotional connection to what you are about to photograph. I guarantee not only will it change the end result, it will change the way you feel about taking photographs forever.
In the final part of ‘Creating The Pawtraits Exhibition™ I will look at the last ten photographs in the exhibition including Paul O’Grady, Greg Rutherford and Ian Waite and include some tips on achieving great self portraits.
Maria’s media work can be seen at mariasloughphotography.com