Here in Leicestershire, we are often graced with long and grey winters – the current one does not seem to be an exception to that rule. However, I always say that I absolutely love phot sessions in the winter – you can catch up on six reasons why here, if you wish. I think this session is a perfect example. I would be lying if I said that the weather on the day had sparked joy in me when I woke up to a dull cover of clouds and a light drizzle. However, out window for the photoshoot was narrow as it had to happen between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, so we decided to go ahead and I’m so glad that we did. When the sun is out and high in the sky, I have to wait for the golden hour to create the kind of images I want to provide my clients with, so I often feel like I’m much more flexible when the weather is considered “bad”.
Blogging this session has actually been long overdue and those that follow me on Facebook and Instagram may already be familiar with some of the images. It has actually been exactly one year and one week since I photographed my cousin Samira, her two dogs Happy and Sunny and her best friend. This was my first professional photoshoot with a family member and I was in fact a little nervous before the session! However, I’m really happy with the set of images I have created for them and I’m so excited that Samira and her parents are letting me share the photos on my website. Her friend’s family have not opted into sharing, so I’ll only be able to show you the images of Samira with the dogs.
My cousin’s family still live in the small picturesque Rhineland town where I spent the first years of my life as well and we met in a lovely nearby park called “Schlosspark Gracht”, complete with it’s own little palace and all. That seems to be how Germany does local parks! I picked the location as it has a lot of lovely evergreens, including a pair of amazing mammoth trees, which I had to include in one of Samira’s portraits (see image below). You would need a lens with a very wide angle to fit the whole tree into the view, but I think you can imagine.
Sunny, who is ironically as black as charcoal, is a Labrador. Whilst still a youngster, she is the older one of the two dogs. Happy the Australian Shepherd was only approaching his first birthday at the time of the photoshoot. Given their young age, I can’t stress enough, how incredibly well both dogs behaved despite the location being new to them. We were not able to let them off the leash as they didn’t have perfect recall yet and the park is surrounded by busy roads, too. Safety always comes first, of course and most of my clients are surprised how many of my seemingly “free roaming” canine and equine portraits were photographed with a leash or a headcollar on!
You can view a before/after comparison of the below photo, which I recently shared on Facebook.
Samira would not be a fashionable teenager though, if her dogs were not also kitted out with matching collars and leashes. I thought the neon colours are well matched with the pups’ bubbly personalities and add a pop of colour in the winter landscape, so I opted to work them into the photos most of the time.
The photoshoot was a birthday present for Samira and I think it’s such a lovely gift idea for teens and preteens. Most teenagers that I have met feel a little awkward and camera shy at first, but I find that using the right prompts and creating fun scenarios for them (rather than posing them) can turn the experience into such a confidence boost for them. It may sound a little cliché but it’s quite important to me that I can show kids growing up in a world of visual overload how amazing they look when they are just themselves in front of a camera. I was able to observe the same with Samira and her friend, who were unsure how to “pose” at first, but really came out of their shells, when I just asked them to interact with each other and the two dogs.
For that reason, I’ve got something quite exciting planned and I’ll be offering sessions specifically for teenagers this year – so watch this space.
What I really want to say those: Parents, please book me for more teenager sessions. I just love photographing them. 😉