Dog portraits Spain starts with a story and one that began back in the UK in my early 20’s. I always wanted a German Shepherd dog and one day this became a reality, ‘Cruise’ was his name and he was beautiful. At three years old he was also a big lad, looking for a new home due to a ‘wonky’ ear but that didn’t bother me – all I saw was my new best friend, we had a connection straight away and we spent every day together. Back in the mid 1990’s I was manager at a national pet store chain and Cruise would sometimes come to work with me, one such day it was my store’s turn to host Britain’s Happiest Dog competition and of course Cruise came along, I knew he wouldn’t win but that didn’t matter.
I remember organising the warehouse team to set up the makeshift studio – stacked pallets with the photographers backdrop and there were dozens of canines lined up ready to have their photo taken, once things had died down a little it was our turn and a week later the photographs were ready – I loved them, it was something special, unique and more than 20 years later I still have them framed and on display. A couple of years later my best friend left me – I was glad to have the photographs that were taken that day because in among all the point and shoot photos that I took before knowing anything about photography these ones are the best.
As any dog owner will know it’s tough when you lose your best buddy and it took me a long time to realise that the best place to keep him was in my heart, once I had come to terms with that life immediately presented me with an opportunity to rescue another German Shepherd and so it came to be that another best friend was to enter my life albeit a very different one. Another pedigree GSD ‘Duke’ as he was originally named was three years old, again looking for a good home. I renamed him ‘Otto’ as Duke just didn’t seem to fit and he quickly became part of the family. Otto was another big lad and he played a huge part in my life both in the UK and Spain when we moved to Andalucia in 2004. While renovating our Spanish property Otto was there, he came everywhere with us in the car and enjoyed approaching you with a sock when he wanted attention! His life changed abruptly in 2006 and I lost him within a few weeks due to illness. My biggest regret is not taking the time to get some great images of him – not just half good ones but great ones, yeah we have a full stack of pictures but none that make you think ‘That’s a lovely image’. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Then there was ‘Reme’, the only German Shepherd I have had from a pup. Last Saturday morning I woke up and the first thought that entered my head was to create some images with him, Reme is nearly 12, another amigo bursting with personality, his own traits, yet a very different friend again. I know he won’t be here forever but this time I am armed with a little knowledge, the right gear and a passion to create images of him that in years to come will make people think ‘That’s a lovely photograph’. An opportunity to build future memories goes so much further than the photography itself so you could say that I have unearthed a passion not just for me personally but also for others who wish to have something special to look at and stir a special memory, perhaps this is one reason why I discovered photography as our best friends are not always with us for the full journey.
Sometimes things come out of nowhere, sometimes the harder you think the more difficult it becomes to be inspired, above are my three amigos who have helped me unearth a passion as a photographer.