Meet six very springy Springer Spaniels – Canine Photoshoot, West Sussex

I have mixed emotions as I write this blog update, and to be honest, I’ve been putting it off for a while. Back in early May, I had the chance to photograph six Springer Spaniels for my friend and nearly neighbour, Jayne. The shoot was great fun and challenging too, trying to get strong images of all the dogs individually and as a group, so I should be pleased. Unfortunately there is a sad end to the story, so be warned, but read on…

Jayne and her husband Martin have kept and trained Springers for as long as I have known them and I have been hoping to get to photograph them for a while. When Jayne mentioned that she wanted to get up to date shots of the pack before the bluebells went over, I jumped at the chance. Here they are in all their glory:

Maisie, Barney, Teasel, Jasmine, Jayde & Harvey

As with all clients, I asked Jayne about what her requirements were from the shoot, if she had any shots in particular to aim for – in this case it was group shots in the bluebells with a rustic feel to them. As the dogs are working gun dogs during the season we went for a realistic feel and I’ve attempted to carry that through when editing and processing the photos, so I’ve done very little in the way of editing out bits and bobs of twigs, leaves etc in Photoshop.

I was fortunate that Jayne picked a great location – it is an area she regularly walks the dogs, so she knows it well, knew that the bluebells were still in full force and that it’s an area the dogs are comfortable in. We started in an area of woodland full of bluebells, so I set about getting settled in to how the dogs were behaving and making sure my camera settings were ok for their speed and the dappled light under the trees.

It was quite a warm afternoon, so when Jayne mentioned there was a pond within easy walking distance, I thought not only would it be a nice chance for the dogs to cool down, but it should also lead to some interesting shots – let’s face it, have you ever met a Spaniel that doesn’t like water?

It was an absolute hoot trying to get in on the action and Jayne and I were soaked from head to toe as the dogs came out of the water and shook themselves – hopefully you’ll agree it was worth it!

After all the fun and games, we headed back towards the car, passing through the bluebells again where we were able to get some more group shots now the dogs had expended some energy.

I was really pleased with how the shoot went and knew I’d managed to get some shots that fitted Jayne’s brief. Heartbreakingly, when I returned home from a week in Scotland, I learned that Jayne’s pack of six had now become five. Less than two weeks after our photoshoot, Jayde had become seriously ill and was unable to be treated. Jayne had the unenviable task of deciding that enough was enough and that Jayde should not suffer – the ultimate love and respect for your animals shows when it’s time to make the tough calls.

It was a particularly tough decision for Jayne as she had bred Jayde from one of her previous bitches and Jayde had in turn been a great mum to a litter herself – Teasel is one of hers. It’s easy to think that with so many dogs in the pack that losing one isn’t that big a deal – well that simply isn’t true.

I remember meeting Jayde when she was just a few days old, got to see her grow up to be just as cheeky and loveable as her mum, Jemma. Then, when Jayde had pups of her own I think she she changed a bit – she became more serious – it was her pack now, she was in charge, but she was also very protective of them despite her mum still being alive.

Rest easy now girl – you’re work is done.

I know it will take Jayne and Martin, and the pack, a while to get used to Jayde not being there and I wish them all well. All I can hope is that my pictures do justice to Jayne’s pack and serve her well in remembering such a lovely dog.