We have so many wonderfully talented pet photographers listed in the Network (over 460!), and I'd like to get to know some of them a bit better. Our first Featured Photographer is Josie Baughan, with Jelly Bean Photography.
Hi Josie! Great to talk with you! Let's begin with where Jelly Bean Photography is located:
I'm based in Northamptonshire, England (UK), but I travel all over the country (and sometimes the world!) to photograph clients and their dogs.
How did your pet photography career get started?
I was originally a wedding photographer, but started to - ironically - fall out of love with it, there was just no passion there (and way too much stress!). Animals and pets had always been a huge part of my life growing up and I loved being surrounded by all things furry and four legged, but I never really connected them with my photography. It wasn't until I visited family over in Italy (camera firmly in tow) and met their newly rescued street pup that I really fell in love with photographing dogs.
I suddenly realised that the passion I'd been missing as a wedding photographer was nothing to do with my skill or photography as a whole, but because I simply wasn't in love with my subject matter the way that I was when a dog was placed in front of my lens. I didn't even realise pet photography was a 'thing' until I later started researching it, and discovered a whole world of talented photographers creating art from our connection with our pets.
So that was it. I contacted a local shelter where I'd previously volunteered, and offered to photograph their dogs as a portfolio builder - they loved the photos and it spurred me on to create more, and so eventually I launched Jelly Bean Photography and started offering my services to clients.
Your images all have such beautiful, rich colors! Any tips on picking a great location for a photo shoot?
It's easy to assume that you need a stunning location with tons of variety and beautiful scenery to get a beautiful photo - so not true! In fact, most of my favourite photos were taken in relatively mundane, everyday environments.
I tend to shoot with a wide aperture (shallow depth of field) so most of my backgrounds are blurred out anyway, and a long focal length helps cut out clutter and distraction. I'd say it's more important to consider the light and the colours around you when choosing a location, and work with those, rather than getting hung up on finding the perfect landscape.
I often find shady spots where the light filters through the trees behind my subject, or look for low hanging branches and colourful leaves to use as a backdrop - one time I even had a client hold up a huge fallen branch in the background to add some more texture and colour to my shot!
Do you have a memorable client or session you’d like to share?
One of my favourite sessions from last year was with Pepe the German Shepherd. Photographing elderly or sick dogs is never easy – in most cases my clients get in touch knowing that they have precious little time left with their four-legged companions, and with that in mind I often have to arrange sessions on short notice, regardless of weather conditions.
When Pepe’s mum contacted me about booking a session with her (Pepe had recently been diagnosed with cancer), we knew that time was of the essence, and so I booked in a mid-November session, crossing my fingers and toes for decent weather. And, despite the bitter cold, we were in luck! Okay, so it wasn’t exactly a sunny day, but what the session lacked in sunshine it more than made up for with dazzling autumnal colours!
Not only were we blessed with gorgeous golden leaves and a host of reds, oranges, and greens, Pepe was also an absolute star. Despite being a little on the skinny side, you’d have had no idea that she was sick, as she paused and waited and posed ever so patiently while I snapped away. At the end of the session, her mum and dad even jumped in for a few shots with their beloved baby girl (something that I recommend all owners do – even if it’s just for a couple of shots).
Not only were the final photos full of colour and vibrancy (despite my reservations with the weather), they also captured Pepe having an absolute blast, as happy as ever, and full of life. And I think that means the world to my clients.
What’s your favorite product that you offer your clients?
Good question! I absolutely love my albums - they're simple but elegant, and are capable of holding pretty much every single image from a session in a variety of bespoke layouts, which makes them a perfect keepsake, especially if you're finding it hard to choose your favourite images! I love designing them, and I always get so excited when they arrive in the post - it's amazing being able to hold something tangible in your hands that holds so much meaning, from the engraved cover to the thick fine art paper. They're perfect for tucking away for safekeeping, or leaving out in pride of place on the coffee table to show all of your friends and family!
And perhaps the most important question: are you more of a cat person or a dog person?
It's a toughie! Weird as it sounds - given that 99.5% of my clients are of the canine variety - I think I'm actually more of a cat person. Don't get me wrong, I love dogs! But cats are definitely better suited to my busy lifestyle - I don't have any pets right now, but I'm counting the days until I can finally get two mischievous moggies of my own!