WOW! As I look back over an amazing year, filled with so many different events, trips, people and pets, all I can say is “WOW!!!” It really was an incredible 12 months for Houndstooth Studio. We had the pleasure of meeting and photographing nearly 1000 animals, ranging from much loved family pets to RSPCA residents waiting for their new forever homes, rescued Australian wildlife in care at Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and orphan penguins on the coast of South Australia. We photographed dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, bettongs, quokka, dingoes, kangaroos, frogs, bilbies, gold fish, guinea pigs, rabbits, horses, goats, ducks, chickens, rats, possums, snakes, lizards and little penguins. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the time I’ve spent with these wonderful animals and the people who care for, and love them - all passionately engaged in the welfare and happiness of animals.
It was an extremely busy year, resulting in lots of work and not so much play. Seventeen hour days, often seven days a week were common place, and whilst I apologise to my much neglected friends, I also know that the candle had to burn at both ends to grow both the business and our reputation. We exceeded our goals for 2010, which makes all the hard work totally worthwhile – it also means I aim to have a slightly more structured diary this year.
Here are some of the 2010 highlights:
Working to support local and interstate animal causes and charities
We provided fundraising items and sponsorship comprising cash, prizes of Houndstooth Studio sessions, calendar images and artwork, framed and mounted wildlife photographs or many hours of pro bono photography services to: the RSPCA WA, Dogs Refuge Home, Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, Animal Protection Society, WSPA, Animals Australia, Stop Live Exports, WA Dingo Association, Lort Smith Animal Hospital in Melbourne, SAVE (Rhino Rescue), Australian Orang-utan Project, Bali Animal Welfare Association, Halfway Home Animal Rescue in Melbourne, Cat Alliance Australia, Greyhounds As Pets, Victor Harbour Penguin Centre, Animal Rights Advocates, Assistance Dogs Australia, All Creatures Lost and Found, and Animal Aid Abroad.
Meeting Sea Shepherd’s Captain Paul Watson
We were invited to attend the Sea Shepherd’s October 2010 fundraising evening as VIP guests. We donated a Blue Clams canvas for the silent auction and were later seated right behind one of my personal heroes, the great Captain Paul Watson himself who graciously signed my copy of his book and inspired me to work harder to assist the Sea Shepherds on their mission. These men and women risk their lives in a selfless effort to stop the Japanese whale slaughter in the Great Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary (something our Government incomprehensively fails to do). We were so taken with their cause, passion and determination we purchased $600 of vegan food and, along with several large bags of vegan groceries from Facebook Fans, delivered it to the appreciative crew of the Steve Irwin. I was thrilled to meet everyone on board and receive personal a tour of the ship. We are determined to do what we can to support the Sea Shepherd cause and I’ve applied as a volunteer on the 2012 Galapagos campaign.
Houndstooth Studio in media
We strengthened our partnerships in print media and regularly had our images published in the Sunday Times, Dogs Life Magazine, National Trust Magazine and featured on the ‘Some Pretty Things’ blog http://www.someprettythings.com/friday-inspiration/houndstooth-studio and several times on Perth based website WANGLE. We even ranked as one of the most popular galleries on WANGLE for 2010 – http://www.wangle.com.au/art-gallery/2010-most-popular-houndstooth-studio. An unexpected surprise!
Our image of Squishy the Rainbow Lorikeet was featured on the front cover of the national photography magazine Photo Review Australia, and was accompanied by a seven page full colour spread and interview in the Sept-Nov issue.
We became a contributing photographer to Solent News, one of the largest photo imaging agencies in the UK and Europe and signed on with For Arts Sake, the largest greeting card supplier in Australia and New Zealand. For Arts Sake will be featuring some of our wildlife images on a premium greeting card range.
To top it off we were privileged to be invited by Australia Post to provide wildlife images for a national stamp and first day cover to be released in July 2011.
Expanding our commercial profile
We enjoyed completing numerous commercial jobs throughout the year. One of our more unusual briefs involved very specific instructions to find and photograph the ‘perfect’ greyhound and horse for a new ‘Private Plates Queensland’ (PPQ) advertising campaign. Thanks to our broad network of animal loving Facebook Fans we found Stan, an elegant and handsome ex-racing greyhound and Puff, a magnificent champion stallion, also known in dressage circles as BBD Class Act. We photographed Stan at our North Perth studio and hired a larger space for Puff’s session. Our capable equine advisor Liesa came to oversee any OHS issues and to assist Puff’s owner Beatrix. Stan and Puff turned out to be outstanding ‘animal talent’ and the agency was delighted with the results. Consequently, our images for the PPQ campaign are featured widely in QLD print media, including billboards, busses and on the PPQ website.
Developing Houndstooth Pet Models (Official launch in Feb 2011)
‘Houndstooth Pet Models’ will be a rich source of new animal talent for our commercial and media photo sessions. We regularly meet so many beautiful, interesting and talented pets we decided to create a registry to meet the needs and requests of our commercial clients. Owners of animals on our register could be contacted to participate in a shoot and be paid either an hourly rate or with in-kind prints or products. The online concept is in development and we’re already accepting application forms from existing interested clients.
I was honoured to be invited to co-judge the York Society Photography Awards in March. I thoroughly enjoyed attending the awards, and was quite nostalgic remembering how much it boosted my confidence as a photographer when I won the event a few years ago.
I was also invited to judge and present at some of the Perth district camera clubs, including Swan Valley Camera Club, Workshop Camera Club, Belmont Camera Club, and Westside Photography Camera Club. These clubs are great source of inspiration to photographers of all ages and skills and are full of amazing people willing to share their photography knowledge and experience. Please consider joining a club if you are keen to further your photography hobby!
As our passion for our business grew so did demand. We increased the opening hours of Houndstooth to 6 days a week and commenced our renovation plans, which included a new pedestrian access to our studio courtyard and a purpose built storage room. Our new interior fit-out will be completed in February 2011 and will include new audio visual equipment, flooring and cupboards.
The great storm of March 2010 saw the demise of our vehicle and in its place we welcomed a black PT Cruiser. The car is everything I’ve ever wanted in a vehicle, and since PT cruisers have won awards for space and design there’s ample room for our mobile marquee, 2 metre long banners and marketing items. It’s a perfect fit!
We’ve incorporated our animal charity work in travel as much as possible and this year worked with organisations in Bali, Adelaide, and on Rottnest Island. Looking ahead, I was thrilled to be invited by U Design Photo Tours to act as lead photographer on a South African photography safari in Sept 2011. Combining travel and photography is one of the best ways to spend time and enables me get a fix of nature and to grow my wildlife image portfolio. I’m aiming to make time for more of both in the future.
And I couldn’t complete a 2010 round-up without sending a big shout out to our wonderful and loyal Facebook followers – all 2019 of them at last count. This online community of pet loving people is a special place to visit, and I thank all of our followers for commenting on our page and photographs. You are all generously engaged in pet ownership and I truly appreciate your support and time. Here’s the link to our page just incase you don’t know about our Facebook site yet – http://www.facebook.com/#!/HoundstoothStudio
Rounding up the round-up
Throughout 2010 I’ve met and learnt from many inspiring people. I’m proud to call dozens of my studio clients “friends” – some of these people are amongst the best I know! Looking back increases my enthusiasm for 2011! As always I’m committed to taking Houndstooth Studio even further in the realm of professional animal photography and to raising the bar for our clients by learning and growing.
On a personal note, I lost my beloved cat Kasey on 29th December. She was 17 years young and lived the best life a little cat could. Last week a client asked if I found it hard to photograph animals all day since Kasey’s passing. On the contrary, it makes me so very grateful that this is what I do…
I look forward to sharing the Houndstooth Studio journey with you all in 2011.