CREA­TURE FEA­TURES

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

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | BIG READ - WORDS: DENISE RAWARD

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.”

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