FROM LINING UP A ROW OF CRAZY PUPPIES AND COPING WITH A CAT HIGH ON CATNIP TO RECORDING A BELOVED FRIEND’S LAST DAY ON EARTH, A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A PET PHOTOGRAPHER IS NEVER DULL
Charlotte Reeves doesn’t take pictures of dogs, she takes portraits. “It’s all about eye contact and expression. You need that direct connection with them to capture their personalities,” Charlotte says.
“I do a lot of playing with them, lots of crazy noises with squeaks and whistlers and game callers and kazoos and I get their owners to throw balls.
“I tell them to try to hit me with the ball so they (the dogs) run towards me. I’ve been hit with tennis balls far too many times. That’s part of my job but it’s all worth it when you get that money shot.”
Charlotte particularly loves action shots captured on beaches or in parks.
She was recently named the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers Queensland pet and animal photographer of 2018.
Charlotte studied photography for two years after high school and was working as a graphic designer when she adopted a young great dane called Kaya.
She decided to document Kaya’s growth in pictures and realised she loved taking photographs of dogs.
“It was 2007,” she says. “There really wasn’t such a thing as a pet photographer but there was enough interest to get me started.”
She lost Kaya to cancer at just two years old and had to make the decision whether her heart was still in photographing dogs.
“I had a session booked in with two poodles,” she says. “They were such lovely dogs. Their little habits and how they were with each other reminded me so much of my own dogs.
“I realised the best way to keep Kaya’s memory alive was to photograph other dogs.”
She’s been in the professional game for 12
years and has seen the industry blossom.
“It’s huge in America and over the years I got a lot of people emailing me asking me questions about photographing pets and animals,” she says.
“It led me to write an ebook to answer them all, then another ebook.”
She also runs teaching workshops both in Australia and overseas but still finds the time to volunteer her photographic services to shelters and animal rehoming organisations.
“I go in and take pictures for a few groups,” she says.
“It’s lovely to know that my photographs can lead to an animal finding a home.”
Of the many hundreds of dogs that she’s photographed, one that sticks with her is a husky cross staffy called Turbo.
“I first tried to photograph him at a shelter in Redcliffe (north of Brisbane),” Charlotte says. “He was absolutely crazy – so energetic and easily distracted. It was hard to forget him.”
She came across him again with another rehoming group some months later then again through an Arctic breed rescue organisation.
When she showed up to a private booking some time later, she was thrilled to find one of the dogs was Turbo – who had been rescued and taken into a loving home.
“He was a completely different dog,” she says.
“The transformation was amazing.
“He’d gone from being unwanted, in shelters for maybe over a year, to being a happy, loved dog, still with lots of energy but not so crazy.”
“I’VE BEEN HIT WITH TENNIS BALLS FAR TOO MANY TIMES. THAT’S PART OF MY JOB BUT IT’S ALL WORTH IT WHEN YOU GET THAT MONEY SHOT.”