Just before the third lockdown, I was thrilled to be invited along to meet the gorgeous Mwanzo Queen litter before they went off to their forever homes, for a litter shoot.
Litter shoots are equal parts fun and chaos, and they're my absolute favourite thing to do because you never know quite what's going to happen. This litter shoot was certainly going to be different because of the Covid-19 restrictions in place, which meant we had to take a number of safety precautions including wearing PPE and ensuring social distancing measures were in place!
A typical litter shoot consists of 2 parts: the individual portraits and the group shot. I never guarantee the group shot as so much depends on what happens on the day and how the puppies react. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are wonderful though, and by the time they are this age they're already thinking and engaging, which makes for brilliant alert portraits.
On this occasion it was like a well-oiled machine (believe me, they aren't all like that!) and each puppy actually had two individual portraits taken, one on a plain backdrop and one on a chair.
Normally a litter of this size would take anything up to 4 hours, but these pups were such pros we had it done in about 90 minutes!
The group shot can be challenging as so much depends on variables on the day. The steamer trunk was an item I picked up from an antiques shop in Bideford, specifically with a litter shoot in mind. This was the first time I got the opportunity to use it and it worked perfectly.
It's absolutely possible to get litter shots in one go - in fact that's the way I normally do it. However, on this occasion, we had to consider the puppies' safety, as we didn't want them to jump down from the steamer trunk and potentially damage any bones or ligaments. Shooting this separately meant we had enough spotters to prevent any escapees and ensure their safety was maintained at all times.
Taking the base image with no dogs present is always a good thing as it means if any cloning is needed you've got all the parts you need to work with. Confession time - I have forgotten to do this in the past and it means I spend a lot longer trying to fix it in Photoshop!
The three images with the puppies were then layered onto the base image, with some photoshop editing to create the final group shot of all nine puppies sitting together and looking at the camera - just like magic!