Workshop Wednesdays Vol.XXVII

Workshop Wednesdays vol. XXVII

We are celebrating love this week – in particular – that special relationship between human and animal. We’ve spoken about it before, however, it is what we capture most here in the studio, so I thought we could delve even deeper into human and animal portraits and why it can be the most remarkable bond in the world. You will fall in love with Gregory Colberts’s work: Ashes and Snow. As well as Michael Nichols life long work photographing Jane Goodall and the chimpanzee’s. We will share a few tips for how to capture the perfect moment between you and your pet (or even just your pet!)… and we hope this inspires you to take a moment, and appreciate the little furry bundles of joy that are in your life!

HP Tip 1

“There are many tricks of the trade, but in the end it comes down to patience and being ready for that special moment when it happens.”

Josh Norem

Random Fact

“The human eye equivalent of f-stop is f/8.3 in bright conditions and f/2 in dark conditions.”



In The News

“Once you find that special someone, it’s hard to let go. The same is true for animals that literally attach themselves to their mates—some just briefly, and some for hours, or even for life.

In the animal kingdom, these specialised “clingy” behaviours help to increase reproductive success. From romantic amphibian embraces to deep-ocean dwellers that aptly demonstrate the phrase “two become one,” here’s a breakdown of the animal kingdom’s most clingy lovers in honour of Valentine’s Day.”



Photo For Thought

Primatologist Jane Goodall bends forward as Jou Jou, a chimpanzee, reaches out to her in Brazzaville, Congo, 1990.

“I first met Jane at an event at the American Museum of Natural History where I had arranged a portrait. I was petrified…she was like a rockstar to me.

I had to do something clever for the photograph because she was in New York City at a conference. I photographed her in front of a screen that had a picture of a chimp. We sat down and I told her what I was trying to do to highlight issues with chimps. She said, “We’re going to help you,” so I went with her son Grub to west Africa. It was a difficult situation. There was an ex-Nazi that was selling chimps to the biomedical trade. There were chimps that were captured for entertainment and a lab that was going around laws by doing their testing in Africa.

I almost died when I was there. I had all kind of diseases—malaria bloom, hepatitis B, and typhoid. I was staying in a village in Guinea where these chimps use megatools and I couldn’t get any food I could trust. I ate some bat stew and ended up in the hospital. Grub held my hand while I was in and out of a coma. This experience really cemented something for me…before that there was no way I could hang out with Goodall, but I wanted to highlight her work. I became close to her family in some weird way through that experience.”



Iconic Photographer:

Gregory Colbert

“I think of my life’s work as a celebration of all of nature, an orchestra that plays not the sounds of one musician, the music of one species, but rather an expression of all of nature’s songs.”

“Colbert believes that there is a shared desire for all species to participate in one universal conversation. He sees nature as the greatest storyteller of all and himself as an apprentice to nature. His works are collaborations between humans and other animals that express the shared poetic sensibilities of all species.

Scientists can help us understand the nature world by giving us the “how.” Colbert believes it is the role of artists in all creative disciplines to try to inspire a transformational “why.” He offers a non-hierarchical vision of the natural world, one that celebrates the whole of nature’s orchestra.

Just at the moment we are burning down what remains of nature’s living library, Colbert is creating an intangible library of the wonder of the natural world that reminds us of what is being lost. He began his thirty-year project two decades ago and he continues to work with animals on every continent, making his works the most comprehensive interspecies collaboration ever created.

Roger Payne, famous for the discovery of whale song among Humpback whales, said of Colbert’s work, “Gregory’s images return us to the sanity of our undeniable, unavoidable, inextricable connection to nature. And they do it with beauty, grace, lightness-of-being, strength. His images, like whale songs, are the last wild voices calling to the consciousness of terminally civilized humanity, our last contact with nature before we submerge forever in our own manufacture and lose forever the final fragments of our wild selves.”


The following portraits are all from Colbert’s incredible body of work: Ashes and Snow

Tip 2

“To take a close-up shot of your pet with a smooth, blurred background, set your camera to aperture priority mode and your lens to the widest aperture possible (lowest f-stop number). For a good lens that will be f/2.8, or for a really fast prime it might be as low as f/1.4; on a kit lens it will be f/3.5 usually. Next, get close to your subject, and have them be a few feet away from their background. (In general the further the subject is from the background, the blurrier it will be; the closer they are to the background, the more it’ll be in focus.) The wide aperture setting will take care of the rest. Be warned though, you could end up with eyes that are in focus and a blurry nose and head. Sometimes that looks pretty cool; it’s all up to how you want the picture to look. If you want your pet’s face to be more in focus, just close down your aperture a bit (go from f/2.8 to f/4, for example) or zoom out a bit. Extra distance between you and the subject will get more in focus.”


Tip 3

Capture the perfect selfie with you and your loved one…

I had to include this portrait somewhere in here! It’s my favourite selfie of me and Charlie (anyone who knows me knows how much I love this cat – and I’m pretty sure the feelings mutual, even though cat’s can often be, well, cats)…

It was just after a portrait session, the lights were still set up, and Charlie decided he wanted to take over the studio. I let him settle down, discretely moved the light into position, then lay down with him and stretched my arm as far away from us as possible to capture this shot. 

The best tips to capturing something like this at home:
1. Wait for the right moment – there is no point trying to force a pet into something if they are not in the mood
2. Guide (or move, if they are asleep) your pet into the best spot for lighting. It doesn’t matter how cute they look – if the lighting isn’t great, it won’t be a good shot. Look for window light inside or shade if outside.
3. Be in the moment with them and try and capture something that you always do – handshake, cuddles, etc
4. Use a timer on your phone or camera – or if you can get away with it – hand hold away from your body.
5. Use a fast shutter speed to freeze motion, a shallow depth of field, and always make sure the eyes are in focus! 

Story of the Week

We first met Julie and Simon way back in 2013 with their very handsome pug, Lars. He stole the show of course and we were able to print something very special from this photo shoot for their home – as well as keep this photo above in our studio for years to come! Four years later we received happy and sad news all at the same time… Unfortunately little Lars had passed away, however, Julie and Simon had welcomed Heidi into their home as well as being pregnant with Molly! We had a very cute maternity photo shoot with Heidi and even cuter shoot when Molly arrived a few months later…This really is the best part of what we do – meeting people and pets, watching families grow and hearing some remarkable stories along the way. Thank you for everything Julie and Simon and I can’t wait to see Molly and Heidi together, I’m sure they are best friends by now! …

In fact, after writing the above, I have received confirmation from Julie that: “Molly got formally discharged from the Mater premmie baby clinic on Friday – huge milestone … She’s done so well and is now a little chatterbox walking everywhere and cuddling anything she can get her hands on. Heidi adores her and they’ve been playing hide and seek together today. Adorable!” – No words to describe how happy we are for you Julie and Simon!! X

Thank you for continuing the journey with us! We welcome your feedback and ideas anytime. Here’s to being inspired!

Best wishes from:
Hannah and Olivia (and Nic and Charlie)…,