SHAR­ING THE TRICKS OF THE TRADE

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | BIG READ -

Kristal Ab­bott has pho­tographed enough dogs to know she gets her best shots in the first min­utes – be­fore they get bored with her tricks.

She spe­cialises in stu­dio pho­tog­ra­phy and says her hand­i­est tools of the trade are squeaky toys.

“But they’ll only work for a minute or so then they get used to the sound,” she says.

“That’s when I start mak­ing my own sounds. I do lots of strange noises.”

Kristal started Paw­posed Pet Pho­tog­ra­phy six years ago af­ter study­ing pho­to­jour­nal­ism at uni­ver­sity.

It was her mother, a dog breeder, who sug­gested she com­bine her love of an­i­mals with her pas­sion for pho­tog­ra­phy.

“I have all types of clients – older peo­ple, peo­ple with­out kids whose pets are like their chil­dren, some­times peo­ple whose pets might have a ter­mi­nal ill­ness,” she says.

“One lady rang me be­side her­self that her old dog was dy­ing. I went straight away and we did an emer­gency photo ses­sion.”

The woman phoned the next day to say her dog had died.

“I got the pho­tos to her as soon as I could and she rang again two weeks later, still up­set but just so grate­ful that she had the pic­tures.”

Her sub­jects are not al­ways so sta­tion­ary. Kristal of­ten takes pho­to­graphs of lit­ters of pup­pies for breed­ers.

“To get them all in line and look­ing at the cam­era at once, you can imag­ine what that’s like,” she laughs. “That can be chaos.”

She’s been nipped by a dog be­fore but has mostly happy sto­ries.

“For the last few years, I’ve been tak­ing Santa pho­tos with pets at a big pet store,” she says.

“I bring Santa along and the pets sit in his lap, just like Santa pho­tos with kids.

“I also have a lot of props so I’ve had a few ses­sions where the pets dress up.

“95 per cent of my work is with dogs but I’ve also pho­tographed cats and birds be­fore. Cats can be tricky out of their home en­vi­ron­ment.

“Dogs don’t seem to mind the stu­dio and the flashes go­ing off. I let them have a good sniff around first, then I spend a bit of time pat­ting them and talk­ing to them and giv­ing them treats so they get to know me.

“I’ve pho­tographed a lot of re­ally good dogs. That’s what most peo­ple seem to want to get pic­tures of – they are man’s best friend, af­ter all.”

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