June 4, 2020

Back in early 2019, I had a really great idea for a photography project. I'm a big believer in projects because they allow you to flex your creativity muscles, try new things and experiment - all things that you can't necessarily do for a client, because of course they're paying for your time. It can be very easy to get bogged down in doing your usual type of client work, and lose some of the creativity which is why we all began enjoying photography in the first place.

My idea was to create a series of images based around famous dog characters from films, books and real life. I couldn't wait to get started and arranged several photo shoots, including one with Willis the Cairn Terrier, who was going to be my Toto.

On the day, Willis was an absolute star, along with his fur-sister, Honey and his human, Jess. We got some great images - he rocked the posing - and I got the shot I was looking for. 

I knew that I wanted to composite in the Yellow Brick Road - so had to find the right street to use as a base for the road itself.  My husband thought I was crazy taking pictures of different streets when we were out and about, looking for the right one that would work for the image. In the end, I used an iPhone shot of an old cobbled street down in the Barbican area of Plymouth.

base image: cairn terrier Willis standing next to a basket of apples on a woodland path

the cobbled street I used to create the Yellow Brick Road

But that's where I stalled. I just couldn't get the "ordinary" shot I'd taken out in the park to look like the slightly fantasy style concept I'd had in my head when I first came up with the concept of the project. I set it aside and actually paused the project itself, because I just wasn't creating what I'd envisaged.

Over the past year, I've picked at this image now and again, working on different aspects of it - for example, getting the colour right on the Yellow Brick Road - but never really got it how I wanted it. 

Then lockdown happened! As you'll know I'm a Qualified Member of the Guild of Photographers, and throughout lockdown the Guild has been hosting a series of free webinars for its members, from editing tips and critiques to business skills and more. It's been invaluable, and I was really pleased to be able to attend a webinar by new Guild Panel Member Heather Burns, who creates the most wonderful composite images. Her webinar really helped me to see what I needed to do to create the image that was in my head, so - with a bit more free time than usual - I sat down and began working on it once again. 

I'm also lucky to have a great group of friends who are photographers, and they were the first people I showed the most recent attempt of this image. With their advice on a couple of areas that didn't look quite right, I made a few tweaks to get the end result. 

It's taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears over the last 15 months, but I finally now feel that I have created the image I saw in my head when I first envisaged how this project was going to look. I am so proud of how my Toto has turned out and I finally feel that maybe it's time to resurrect the Famous Dogs Project and have some fun with it. Watch this space!


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Specialist dog photographer serving Market Harborough, Lutterworth, Leicester, Rutland and surrounding villages in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire; and further afield
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