Meet Malz - Canine Photoshoot, Hampshire

This little man is Malz. A handsome, 16-week old black lab pup that I was fortunate enough to photograph at the end of July at his home near Basingstoke, Hampshire with his Mum and Dad, Bex and David.

As you might expect of any pup his age, Malz is a bundle of energy and constantly exploring his new strength and co-ordination by charging around the house and garden having plenty of fun. It was a really hot day, so although Malz does go out to the local park, we decided it would be wise to stay at home in the garden where we could have a bit more control over Malz’s exuberance and make sure he didn’t get too hot.

Malz is really developing into a super dog and it was really interesting to look back at the shots and see how in some shots he still looks very puppy like, but in others you get a glimpse of the adult dog he will become – what a fine lad!

Eventually (and I really mean, EVENTUALLY!) Malz got a little hot and tired, as was I, and I managed to get some more sedate, soulful shots.

It’s a pleasure to photograph any dog, but as you can imagine, even more so a lovely pup. It’s a huge amount of fun as well as a huge challenge to be in the right place at the right time and keep up with the crazy bundles of energy.

A huge thank you to Bex and David for having me along to spend the evening with Malz.

If you’re interested in having a photoshoot for your own pet you can see more details here: 

https://www.callumaitkenphoto.co.uk/canine-photoshoot/

You can also follow me on social media (I try my best!) on Facebook and Instagram:

http://www.facebook.com/callumaitkenphotography

https://www.instagram.com/callumaitkenphotography/

Until next time!

Thanks,

Callum

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.

Thanks,

Callum

Meet Eva - Canine Photoshoot, Surrey

This gorgeous, seven year old, Flat-Coated Retriever is Eva. I was lucky enough to be booked to photograph Eva back in April by her owners, Rob and Anita.

 

Eva was originally trained as a Guide Dog and first came to stay with Rob and Anita when they were acting as Trainee Guide Dog Boarders. This is where people volunteer to act as temporary “parents” to trainee guide dogs whilst they go through their formal training – they take the dog to school in the morning, pick the dog up in the afternoon and then spend the evenings and weekends helping the young dog get acquainted to home life, continuing basic training and having fun after the rigours of school. It’s a fantastic idea that allows the trainee dog to get used to different people and scenarios before they head off to work with their selected blind or partially sighted partner.

Eva passed her training with flying colours and went off to live with her partner. Unfortunately her elderly partner suffered from ill-health for quite some time and subsequently passed away. As Eva had not worked for an extended period of time, the decision was made to retire her early and Rob and Anita were asked if they wanted to take her on as they new her well. Luckily, Rob and Anita were only too happy to have Eva back in their lives and it appears to me that the feeling is mutual – Eva is one of the happiest dogs I’ve ever met!

 

One of Eva’s regular venues for walkies is Sheepleas in Surrey. It’s not an area I’d been to before, but I shall certainly be going back to – a great mixture of woodlands and meadows and perfect for photoshoots, wildlife spotting, or indeed, just walking. In our discussions before the shoot, Rob and Anita had suggested they would like a mixture of portrait and action shots, so as we walked around the area I was keeping a lookout for good backdrops for portraits and different areas for action shots. We were provided with plenty of variation and had Eva sitting on benches, climbing fallen trees, charging across meadows, sitting in bluebells as well as photos with Rob and Anita sitting with her too.

Eva was very calm when we first met at Sheepleas and I therefore assumed that with all her assistance dog training she would be quite a reserved lady – how wrong I was! At the first opportunity Eva found a load of fallen leaves left over from Autumn and had a jolly good dig and roll around:

 

Not quite the sleek, coiffured look an owner might want to have captured in a photograph, but I love it! Luckily with a quick shake and some more charging around the leaves and twigs fell out.

Eva loves her tennis ball, as you might expect from a Retriever so we had some good chase scenes to capture – always a challenge, but great when they work as planned:

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As I mentioned above, there are some great patches of bluebells at this location and they are all quite far away from the most popular spots, so we had them to ourselves. Eva looked fabulous with her glossy black coat offset agains the bluebells and green foliage. I think this is one my favourite shots of the day:

 

One of the many things I love about my jobs is meeting lovely dogs and their owners. I pride myself of getting to know animals quickly and getting on well with them after just a short time (although oddly enough, this doesn’t always apply to our own cat as he occasionally tries to rip my leg off for an impromptu snack!). Another one of my favourite shots of the day is this one, although I doubt Rob and Anita want to keep a photo with my hand in it. To me it sums up what a loving dog Eva is – very contented with a chin tickle:

 

Ever since I started Callum Aitken Photography, I’ve wanted to be able to use my photography to support animal charities, predominantly animal welfare charities, and I have therefore made the decision to donate a percentage of the income from each and every photoshoot I do to a charity related to the type of animal I’ve photographed (more details to follow on my website). However, in Eva’s case, I’ve agreed with Rob and Anita that the donation should go to Guide Dogs UK to continue Rob, Anita and Eva’s support for their invaluable work.

If you too would like to support Guide Dogs UK, please visit their website for more information: http://www.guidedogs.org.uk

A huge thank you to Rob and Anita for booking me and allowing me to have such a great time with Eva – she is such a character and a lovely, lovely dog.

Thanks,

Callum

 

Meet Wellington Pug - Canine Photoshoot, London:

A couple of weekends back I was fortunate enough to be booked to go up to London to photograph a pug. Not just any pug, an utterly adorable four month old pug puppy by the name of Wellington.

The photoshoot had been booked when Welly’s Mum (human) was given one of my gift vouchers as a birthday present. It’s good to have a plan before a shoot so you have a list of the kind of shots the owners are thinking they might like, plus I have my own ideas and suggestions and of course you have to adapt to the actual shoot itself and see what happens.

My plan for the shoot was to meet Welly at home with his owners (he’s too little to answer the door himself), let him run around in their garden and get to know me and the camera, get loads of action shots of him roaming around his kingdom and then as he tires out, get some cute, cuddly, sleep shots. Did it go to plan…?

Not quite! This was quite simply one of the most fun and tiring photoshoots I’ve ever done, and editing it afterwards was a truly difficult task as Welly is just sooooooo cute, it’s almost impossible to choose one photo over another.

WARNING – cuteness overload ahead!

Just in case you wondered – this is why photographers often take more than one camera with them!

 Pure innocence

Pure innocence

Welly was a great model – he loved the clicking of the camera shutter, so I could get him to play with his owners, grab a position and then fire off the camera a couple of times and he would come charging towards me to see what the noise was. Also, for a young pup, he was very well trained and can already sit and stay, at least for a while! I’ve included some of the more mischievous photos of him, but they really are just him having fun, not being naughty.

 Just reward

Just reward

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It became clear after quite a while of charging round the garden that Welly wasn’t really tiring, so after great fun trying to get his collar and lead on, we walked round to Welly’s local park. Even more fun and games ensued with Welly charging about making new friends and chasing sticks.

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We returned to Welly’s home after a while as he was getting quite warm – this was the part where he was meant to get sleepy and stop charging about. It didn’t work…

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… although he did pause briefly for some water:

 Slurp!

Slurp!

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I’ve only included a small selection of Welly’s photos, just to give you a flavour of how the shoot went and to show you what a star Welly is. This little man was a total bundle of energy and already a great credit to his owners. It was great fun to spend a couple of hours with such a lovely pup and a huge character, as pugs often are. I must admit – when I got home, I was exhausted (Welly was still going strong according to his owners and still hadn’t stopped charging about!).

Thanks,

Callum

Meet Archibald the Brave - Canine Photoshoot, Argyll & Bute

As usual, I like to share a few shots with you and a bit of info from client shoots. Today’s star of the screen is Archie, affectionately known by his Mum as Archibald the Brave. From the finest working sheepdog stock, Archie has adapted very well indeed to the life of a family pet and therefore is perhaps not as butch as his genetics suggest he could be and is much more at home in front of the log-burner than chasing those funny woolly creatures around a field…

That not withstanding he’s a very handsome boy, full of beans and always looking for a new friend to throw his toy or a stick. In true Collie style, he will keep on and on playing fetch for much longer than your patience will last!

 

Archie isn’t one for sitting still, so it was a real challenge for me and the camera to get really sharp images. For those of you interested in the techie stuff, the indoor shots were around ISO 8000 to try and keep a reasonable shutter speed, and that was at a larger aperture than I would ideally have liked. Still, just goes to show how amazing our current camera technology is. Luckily, I also got to accompany Archie on a walk where we threw more sticks, played more fetch and did a bit of swimming and the inevitable shake to get dry!

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We also made friends with this handsome young boy – was lovely to see the dogs charging around together, although Archie preferred to play fetch than play with the dog – who says Collie’s have one track minds?!

 

And finally, this is the only single shot I got of Archie lying down. As soon as he saw me, he was up again, finding his favourite toy to play more fetch.

 

All in all, a lovely but challenging shoot. Thanks to Jim and Wendy, and of course, Archie for the shoot – it was an absolute pleasure.

If you’d like to add a comment, feel free, or get in touch via the contact pages.

Thanks as always for stopping by – hope you’re all ready for Christmas!

Callum 

Meet Jock – Canine Photoshoot, Surrey

This handsome, smiley man is Jock – you will see some of his pictures feature on my home page and portfolio, and deservedly so!

Jock is such a sweetie, I could easily spend a whole day with him – just a very happy, contented little man! I was also very flattered as his owner JK ordered a nice large canvas of the final image above and it looks fantastic. The more pictures I take, the more I like to see them in print in some form or other – having a tangible product showing the image, rather than seeing it on a computer screen or tablet definitely makes a difference.

These photos were taken back in the summer – seems quite a long time ago now (!), but it still brings a smile to my face looking back at these pictures of Jock.

Thanks as always,

Callum

Meet Pip & Layla - Canine Photoshoot, Surrey

A little while ago I was fortunate enough to photograph Pip and Layla – it was a thoroughly enjoyable photo shoot and I think the images really capture the spirit of the girls, especially Layla who can go from as sweet as pie, to dashing around causing mayhem in the blink of an eye. As always, the majority of photos are in a private gallery for my clients to view, but here are just a few of my favourites from the day:

On a technical note, a decent tip is that black and white conversion can help where there are distracting backgrounds – it also helps bring out the textures in Pip’s coat.

A great shoot and two lovely ladies to spend the afternoon with.

Thanks for stopping by.

Callum