2022 CHARITY CALENDAR PROJECT
I’m quite embarassed that it’s taken me this long, but halfway through the year I thought it might be nice to share some photos from my most recent Charity Calendar Project!
After the success of 2018/19 I was itching to shoot another calendar. Unfortunately COVID had other ideas, and the whole thing was put on hold for two years! But as soon as it was safe to venture back outside, I set about planning the next project.
This time, I wanted to create an extra special connection between the calendar and the charity, so decided to photograph dogs that had been rescued and rehomed by Animals In Need. It felt like a fitting tribute to the hard work of the volunteers and the wonderful people who rehomed these dogs – seeing these dogs living happy lives with loving families is seriously the best feeling. We also raised an amazing £1,346!
So I just wanted to share some of their photos (including the ones that weren’t featured in the calendar) and learn a little bit about the superstar dogs behind the project…
JANUARY – Annie the Bichon x Jack Russell
One of the key things I learned from my 2019 calendar project was that shooting during a particular month does not guarantee weather conditions that reflect the season! So this time around I decided to hold sessions throughout the year, and then choose the photos that best fit each month after all of the shoots were complete.
Annie’s session was actually in April, but it was the very first shoot for the calendar (so I’m using that logic to make her Miss January!). And she did a terrific job making her debut as a calendar model, posing perfectly and patiently for every shot!
FEBRUARY – Eddie the Patterdale Cross
In case you couldn’t tell from his expressive ears and soulful eyes, Eddie was quite a character! This plucky chap and his mum took me on a stunning walk around their local village, venturing up into the woods, out across the fields, and even into an amazing ford (which made for some really fun water shots). The weather was just as varied too, with dramatic evening skies and even a sprinkling of rain, but Eddie didn’t let that spoil any of the fun!
MARCH – Daisy the Boxer x Old Tyme Bulldog
With hip & elbow dysplasia (plus a metal knee!) I knew that we’d be taking it easy for Daisy’s session. Luckily, her owners live in the grounds of a beautiful abbey, so we were literally a stone’s throw from some stunning garden scenery – the perfect spot for some relaxed photos. Despite her mobility issues (which didn’t seem to faze her at all) Daisy was an absolute star – just look at that gorgeous, expressive face!
APRIL – Esmee the Yorkshire Terrier
Can we take a moment to appreciate how cute the name Esmee is? Seriously, I love it! We had the most glorious sunshine during Esmee’s session, which perfectly complimented her bright personality. Shooting action proved quite tricky (I’m pretty sure Esmee actually moves at the speed of light) but we managed to pin her down long enough for plenty of relaxed poses, and even found time for some cuddles!
MAY – Dillon the Terrier Cross
In Dillon’s pre-session questionnaire, his mum said “He will always find the smelliest muddy puddle when out on a walk!” and he did not disappoint… About 20 minutes into our session, Dillon disappeared down a precarious slope and landed in a boggy creek! Once we clambered down to retrieve him, we actually found one of the most perfect spots for a photo (despite the mess and the stinky bog water!).
It also happened to be a very hot day in early June, but luckily we found a nearby stream to cool off in. Dillon had an absolute blast splashing around in the water – the perfect remedy for a hot summer’s day!
JUNE – Maggie the Mixed Breed
Maggie was brought over from Romania by Animals In Need, before being adopted by her new family. When she arrived she was skinny and incredibly scared, but with a lot of time, attention, and love, she’s blossomed into a loving dog – she especially loves cuddles and belly rubs!
I learned ahead of Maggie’s session that she had a lot of fears and could be very protective of her family, so we chose a quiet location where we could give her lots of space. Despite her traumatic past, Maggie took everything in her stride and we got some beautiful photos.
JULY – Rudy the Mixed Breed
You know when a pre-session questionnaire says that a dog “doesn’t like a camera pointed at him” then you’re going to be in for a challenge! And I’m not ashamed to say that Rudy’s session was the first time I’ve had to end a shoot early for welfare reasons. A dog’s safety & wellbeing will always be top priority during a session – they will never be made to feel uncomfortable or pushed over their limit.
To Rudy’s credit, our session got off to a great start – we took some time to let him get used to me and my gear, did a little bit of positive reinforcement with the camera, and I made sure to use a long lens and give him plenty of space. But it quickly became clear that Rudy definitely did not like having the camera pointed at him, no matter what we did to minimse the stress. The simple act of me holding the camera up to my face was enough to cause Rudy to exhibit immediate stress signals.
As with many rescue dogs, we don’t always know their history or their upbringing, so it can be difficult to predict or understand their triggers and reactions. So rather than persisting with the session, we called it a day, knowing that we already had some lovely shots. In fact, one of those photos now hangs in pride of place in his mum’s home!
AUGUST – Lilah the Mixed Breed
One thing that I really wanted to include. in this year’s calendar was a heather shot! Unfortunately, Northampton is incredibly lacking in the purple stuff, but luckily Lilah and her mum were up for a little road trip to Bedfordshire where we found the most beautiful heathland, covered in a sea of heather!
Lilah is another Romanian rescue who found her forever home here in the UK. Again, with very little knowledge about her history, we weren’t sure how she might react to a photo shoot, especially when her mum told that that one of her dislikes is “doing as she’s told”! But it turns out we had nothing to worry about – she’s a natural born supermodel!
SEPTEMBER- Monty the Mixed Breed
This little chap immediately stole my heart with his puppydog eyes and dapper bow tie! But despite his miniature size and puppy-like appearance, Monty is actually an older gentleman – in fact, when we met, he had already reached the ripe old age of 15!
Despite being almost blind and almost deaf, Monty was an absolute trooper and totally rocked his session. He may be representing September in the calendar, but our session actually took place at the start of May, which offered up a variety of beautiful spring foliage, from pink blossom trees to vibrant yellow and purple flowerbeds – the perfect setting for such a handsome chap!
OCTOBER- Monty the German Shorthaired Pointer
As if one Monty wasn’t enough, this year’s project brought me two! But these two boys definitely had very unique personalities (and quite a significant size difference!). You can probably tell from the photos, but Monty’s session didn’t take place in October – it was actually a scorcher in June! In fact, it was so warm that we almost had to reschedule, but instead we held the session later in the afternoon, and made sure to stick to the shade to avoid overheating.
Monty’s come a long way since being rehomed as a pup. After a lot of training with his dedicated family, he’s become quite an adventurer and has even climbed Snowden, Scarfell Pike and Ben Nevis – so a photo shoot was an absolute breeze for this intrepid hound!
NOVEMBER- Kali the Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Autumn was starting to set in when I met Kali and her mum for their session, but the sun still insisted on making an appearance – I am definitely not complaining though! Late afternoon a.k.a golden hour is my absolute favourite time to be out taking photos, the warm sunlight ftwinkling through the trees never fails to disappoint. And it’s made all the more magical when autumn sets in, with the leaves starting to turn and showing off a host of yellows, reds and golds – paradise!
Kali is an older lady, so we took it fairly easy for her session at Harlestone Firs (one of my favourite locations). She took everything in her stride though, and even obliged us with a few adorable action shots – check out those ears!
DECEMBER- Luna & Winnie the Mixed Breeds
Little did I know when Winnie was selected for the calendar project that I’d actually be getting two dogs for the price of one! Winnie and her big sister Luna are inseperable, so it made sense that they’d both get to join in on the fun. Winnie showed off her impressive swimming and sprinting skills, while Luna chilled out and kept watch over proceedings.
Choosing a shot for December is always difficult – due to the timings of the calendar going to print, I never actually take any photos in the winter, so it can be hard to get that ‘wintery’ look. The blue iron bridge caught my eye though, creating a cool but colourful look to end the year on!
And that’s a wrap! This project was another huge success, but I couldn’t have done it without the help of my fabulous canine models and their brilliant families. It was such an honour to meet everyone and learn about the unique stories behind each furry face. Some were truly heartwrenching, but the one thing they all had in common was a happy ending!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about them as much as I enjoyed photographing them, and enjoy looking through all of the photos. Who knows, maybe there’ll be another calendar project to come in the not-too-distant future…