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On Location: Stories from The French Cat and Dog

Lesson 23 from: Animal Photography

Rachael Hale McKenna

On Location: Stories from The French Cat and Dog

Lesson 23 from: Animal Photography

Rachael Hale McKenna

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Lesson Info

23. On Location: Stories from The French Cat and Dog

Lesson Info

On Location: Stories from The French Cat and Dog

Yes, so this segment I'm going to talk to you about everything all the challenges I get while shooting on location, but first of all I'm going to take you through a little bit little junie on dh my experience which I head with france with creating my books, the french kit in the french dog and after that they will move on to my latest project, the new york dog, which all three books have bean created on location and so this is a hell of a lot more there's a lot more challenges with working on location then and the studio you've got that well, I wouldn't say mohr but there's different things you gotta deal with on location is opposed to studio and so it was quite fun for me too prior to the french get a french dog most of my work has been in studio or on location but creating backgrounds within a within an environment, so isolating you animals from their their environment in creating beautiful, simple poor traits against backgrounds and things. But when I moved to france, it's always be...

en a love of mine too in a patient to try and create something where I'm actually working in the environment and actually trying to work eh crept, capture an image of an animal and mirror it with the soul of the environment as well, so just get a really esthetic image, which shows a cat or a dog in its favorite place. So I'm just going for those of you who haven't seen my books, I'm just going to show you a quick slide show of some of the images, just to give you a feel of what I was creating for these for these projects. Wait, wait, wait, wait. So as you can see those images of very different from what I've been trying you here in the studio, and but I'm still trying to capture the essence in the character, and the emotion within my image is going back to france. It was amazing, I suppose, in new zealand, I'd been creating images for the licensing range of things for many, many years, and I just felt a bit bogged down, and I needed needed to change a needed new inspiration, and I needed to challenge myself to do something new. So my husband, I was newly married and and she's pregnant when we moved to front, but we we decided on france, because when I'd done my three month little away, I had fallen in love with france. I loved italy, but there's, something about france, which is really just kept abated me when I traveled through, and my husband actually lived there for five years prior to meeting may and then and he was really keen to go back, so we're headed to a little little village called way found a house in a little village called course ava ran and the longer da region which is in the south of france but it every corner I turned as you say he every corner I tuned made my mind and my isaac explode with inspiration and when your photographer there is an amazing feeling it's incredible taking yourself to a new environment and just getting inspiration toe because it hurt when you do it but doing things for years that has really had toe keep keep yourself going sometimes you just feel like you're repeating yourself over and over and over so it's always nice to even if you could just take a few weeks often go somewhere new just to keep your mind stimulated and give you fresh ideas and do look at other photographers works if you can't get away for a for a holiday maybe even go on the internet and actually inspire yourself by looking at other images just to get your mind away from what you doing sometimes it's always really good just tow keep that creative flow going it was the perfect opportunity for me to get out about and just be out there in this enjoy nature I love being out in nature in just wandering the streets and doing things that was really perfect opportunity for me just to just to be out and about during things I'm very, very lucky to have got the opportunity to do these projects for me, the assignment was like a lover fear that was we had the most exquisite light um it was so peaceful I'd had such a busy busy life and I just I just needed to get out just needed toe just to be somewhere where my cell phone wasn't ringing every five seconds. I didn't have to worry about what I still had to deal with the e mails and all that carry on there were still still the stuff to deal with, but it was just so nice toe to be be somewhere I could just escape from everything every day and it was just it was just magical the coming from new zealand we've got it's a very new country, so getting to france I was just so inspired by the textures everything was just so beautiful there's so much history everywhere the fact that all the buildings, the crumbling and not necessary some of them are falling down here but not all of them but even even the houses people live in this so much history and character and just there's so much emotion in this surroundings and the environment there's just so much to feel when just to capture I always thought I didn't have the best job in the world anyway and I still do, but once when I went to france that she thought I'd died and gone to heaven, that was just major if you even do get an opportunity to go to france with your camera, it is a really, truly magical place to be I should get promotion from the from the french tourism industry is the best part was that I I got to do this as a family. Andy and I got married and within a month we'll move from new zealand to france. We had were planning it before we got married that we were going to move, I was pregnant and we just up and left. We decided that the time was right and we were just going to do it, so this was really like our honeymoon really when we first went out, went off and worked on the french kit, and so I probably charlie's was five months old when we actually started to travel around, but I probably actually wouldn't have done this project if I wasn't wasn't able to travel with them because to be away from your family for six months yeah, it's, it's just something you can't do science to say again I was so fortunate to have this opportunity to be ableto work with them and as you can see here on the right charlie's was has got my passion for animals you love this little picture of you how she's instructing one of my subject matters telling it what to do she's only not even two years old here and he's just going you're going to sit here for mom? Yeah, but it was just really nice that I was I haven't missed anything of chalices life even though I was so busy working but it was just it was like being on holiday doing this job was really, really special that was amazing this is the first image even created so I used to know when I was talking to you about publishing and licensing that's the image I created when I went to my publisher I've done all these other images a ll these other books for them and but I actually thought hang on I want to do something different so I created this image this is my favorite seating in our village in france I love this little little green door it's the most beautiful, beautiful place and so I created that one image unfortunately I already have an established relationship with a publisher but I created then image and sent it to my publishers with my pitch about during the french care and they absolutely loved it which I was over the moon about, which was which was great anyway, this is a picture of me on location andy my husband is a builder so he was he was working at the time so I had to I had another girl who was helping me a little bit but with a newborn baby it's not an easy thing so you see my left arm on the pushed here and I've got charlie's on my arms and I'm trying to do this that this particular image actually I'd waited for days to see if there's any cancer actually lived near this door but I couldn't never even found a kid so I got cow one of our neighbors now street which was just around the corner bought his kit tighten into the shot and if you can see the cowls next to the barrel in the actual image colors behind the barrel title titan wasn't on on a lead or anything he just said that he was a really, really cruzi cared but anyway it was a very, very quiet village heady run off he would have found this way just around the corner back home anyway so it wasn't to bid but this is the only image in the book where I've actually taken a cat to a new buyer environment all the other images I created were all actually capturing the cat's within the environment which I found them yeah and most of the images were created just with me wandering the street and every year it's it was it was an incredible experience so I mean, to say that last image there actually was a contender being my first ever created was actually contender for the cover for a long, long time until this image came along, which is the classic romeo and juliet's scenario. You've got juliet at the top, but it's, you know, sephora and fan fan la mere is the cat at the bottom, but so as you can see here when you're creating a book, you do need to know that you consider images for covers. So you gotta make sure you've got space were the title might go, but sometimes it is hard you kept your shot, you just capture it because but these sort of things that you couldn't go to christian yeah, yeah, I noticed. My copy has a different cover. It's one of the cat line within your name is rachel hale on that. So how quickly explain that? Because there might be people, actually, who had that same thing cause here in america, this is the australasian vision. So australia new zealand version, which is I love this girl. I do love the other cover as well. Which is is dodo lying on a little cheer on which I photographed at the chateau? That's because we have what I'm introduce now we have co publishers around the world so the american publishers abrams chose their image that was the image they thought was going to be more eyecatching within the stores to sell the book then this one and it's quite possible I might have a book and different countries in each country might have a different cover it's the french dog the same cavil was used throughout the world um but you're the french can't only has two different covers america his dodo on the cheer and then this one is the australasian plus germany and all the other places with a with a book but as you can see it works perfectly the spin your space to work in this image sees free france and see it and it's got cats on it so it's a great great image for the cover and it's quite eye catching france is a really really huge country I know I've talked a little bit about this used today but I really didn't have a clue and beginning how do I start the story just get in the car and start driving and hope to find cats and dogs but then I thought I knew that I would find them but then I thought no actually you just don't know what route to take so therefore this is when I just got on the phone and phoned as many chateau's there were more like b b and b's so being breakfast chateau's which actually worked as a restaurants or hotels and things as well so I just made sure that I had plenty of people already within my that within the route we were going to go to actually photograph so I knew and knew about the project they knew that will they have their own cats or dogs who actually lived in the premises but then once had done their word of mouth started to spread as well they they started sending me emails saying actually we've got such and such down the road they've got this gorgeous dog who I would love to be involved in that sort of thing but when we were when we travelled round they also we were pointed in all sorts of different directions so even though we established a route we didn't branch off every now and then and this is this's that behind the scenes shot which I wreck it I said talked about yesterday with the kit caramel so you can see here this room was exquisite and look after I was quite far back with my camera shooting in this and I had you can see here you've got my my husband's cousin actually came to stay with us and traveled around with us for a few weeks and so paulo was working caramel for me just with the fear the teaser just out of shot for munich create an image but caramel lived in this property so this wass here who playground anyway so she was she's usedto in the owner had told me she often goes and sits on the letter but so we just had to encourage you to get up there for the shop which wasn't a difficult thing there was also another shot I did I think is in the book of they had this amazing huge big ballroom which had a fireplace which was high like the mental peace was up here way create with the fan and I put on the internet we've created shot of shelly sitting up on the mantelpiece actually of course the actual shot and he was right underneath her neither but they like digitally removed andy from the shot and we had this sort of like charlie's and we seem to talk the grandparents and everything's looking how what chalices doing in france which was just quite funny books don't come with big budget you don't often get huge advances and as us mentioned you slay you do actually have to put a lot of our own personal money and as well but this sort of experience was an amazing experience I wasn't goingto pass it up so and you just pray that you can sell enough books toe reimburse yourself for what you spend on the project but it is really you do do it for the love of it it's okay to keep the budget down we did a lot of campaign this is me doing my retouching yet again she released in the she's a bit of a mummy's girl sleeping is when one morning I stayed but normally I heared it off early and lift andy with charlie still sleeping in the team to know just wander off and be walking around villages and and just kept trying to capture kit and then the evenings because I had such a huge workload I had to spend them pretty much eat nearly every evening retouching just to keep up with the flow I mentioned yesterday that for a book I would normally kept just sort of maybe two to three times as many images which is needed for the french kit they needed one hundred and yeah, fifty or so images cut me, but exactly what wass maybe a bit more than that, I think I had to supply two hundred. I gave them over a thousand images for the french kit that was my first shoot on location and I was loving it. I couldn't stop taking photos every single place that corner I turned I was taking photos that was amazing. Yeah, we moved around so much so it was really it's really quite difficult in this situation to have a lot of gear so seriously all itwas was my camera my faithful live a bag which had a spear lee and another leans if I needed a different lens and my spare batteries maybe something to clean my camera if I got something I got on it and then of course I had for the dawn and dusk shots. I often had a mono pod and it was all and then for interior images I had a larger tripod on dh maybe a reflector, but there's all my head didn't take any studio flesh, nothing so every single image within the french cat has been created a natural light. It was quite funny gets so that you can't read this. It seems I found myself peering through cracks and standing on tippy toes to see you see over a wall and search of kits to entice you to play it. Wass it's so funny the french I'd often you'd often hear them you also see them like muttering to each other like I've been walking around with a feather teaser in the camera and then just like she doing but word soon screed that there's this crazy lady photographing kit yeah, so big but it was quite funny, yeah, and and he would get roped and occasionally to help out here he is with charlie's playing with a little black cat in peru sj and this is top shots mean the mattress symmetry if you ever go to paris it's amazing place to go there's hundreds of kids and the mom batra symmetry and they're all fed by one little old man every day it walks eight kilometres daily with twenty five k g's of cat food to feed the kits at my mattress symmetry, which is amazing he's really, really dedicated to those kids. I'm not quite sure what I'm sure someone will take over when he when he gets to an age where he can't do it anymore, but it is amazing and he just does it all with donations from other people, so I'm playing with cats on the street, so as you can say, all others camera in a feather that's how this book was created in paris I spent a day with a dog walker, which was an amazing experience, I just following him around in going and into another people's apartments actually did to see them, and they'd go hit wonder along streets with he had a dog called flesh, which is this one in the middle here and flesh actually, he'd trained to tell him, leave the dogs. So I've been walking on the streets and flesh would have some of the dogs and his mouth leading them, and the dog walker would have done some dogs as well, which is amazing and I could go into he know exactly which little courtyards he's going to be able to find a tip for all the dogs to drink out of and it's not just a tap on the wall for them to drink out of it's a beautiful old fashioned fountain type thing with beautiful will, ornate details and everything in france is just so beautiful. But it was funny that his walk always ended at the plastic to concord, which is hugely full with tourists and this amazing big fountain in the middle, which is where flesh is photographed here. And these are the dogs they all jump into the fountain. So of course we know this photograph, phineas I was surrounded by tourists I had so I was fighting my way, but the only thing which gave me a way that I wass actually a professional twenty should get some shots with this was that was my camera. So it's very, very fortunate that I was in this situation, working with hesselboe lead because it was very obvious I had a slightly more professional looking camera than the others, but most the time, I'd I'd actually I'd get a few shots in that step back let the tourists do their thing because, of course they all wanted to capture images of the dogs and the fountains as well. And then sometimes it was very difficult with evil and speaks different languages when you come across the tourist that's very hard to explain what you're doing to people but the duke is due soon get the just when you're sort of saying excuse me, excuse me backing off so yeah, it was it was great you gotta let them have the attorney as well says this as I say and the only thing which didn't give me away was the fact that I had a slightly more fancy looking camera but the free french was so amazing to work with I had such an incredible time they're so laid back and it's a city state that they were amazed when they received a free print and being a copy of the book they're just like well, this is this is incredible it's always I love making feel people feel good that's that's a nice thing so this year was the shot I took I had found when I was visiting a shadow I found this door and I thought, what a beautiful, beautiful door I really need to photograph it and the honor and see that the dogs often hang out outside the door it's not adore their use but there just seemed to be a place the dogs really like to hang out so this actually is the dog's naturally to sitting in front of door I hadn't taking the dogs to the door and got them to sit their this is them doing the thing they do? Daly and but I did have to wait. And thankfully, the dogs that was was we shot this during the really, really hot summer. So the dogs actually went there to escape from from the sun and the switch wass in the shade. But it had such exquisite light because the way the shelter was built there often lee often built issue, often built in like a horseshoe. So the door so you had a horseshoe of the chateau and the door was on this side and that the sun was behind the chateau at the stage. But son was hitting the wall on the other side, so we had this amazing bounced light. So this this image is really a luminous because of the light which was bouncing off the chateau. So it was very, very fortunate that I was there at the right time. Caught the image. The dogs were just chilling in the shade, and it just worked perfectly for the cover of the book. Anna's aside, this image was used worldwide for the cover. The new york dog has base amazing experience, absolutely incredible it's. Very it was very, very different for me though from the french can the french dog as I said before the french can the french dog was almost like a holiday I was just like traveling the country and just capturing images as I went and just with in mind that I was shooting for a book but it was more just capturing my experience in france with the new york dog was also capturing my experience and new york, but I had to do a lot more research for new york I had to make sure that I was going to cover the area a much broader urban area thiss five boroughs in new york, so I had to make sure I photographed with an every single bar certainly couldn't cover everything within every every barrel but and also it was a bigger challenge for me because in france, like I said use today often you just find dogs wondering street so you didn't always have to ask permission, but within france I often did like I see a dog if it was dog was in a property, then I'd have to go and knock on the door and then my very broken french have a conversation explain exactly what I was doing on dh then seek permission to ask two photographic dog within their property, but if they're on the street I could just take a photo whenever I wanted but in france in in new york all the dogs are on lead or after an apartment with the round or anyway so they're never just wandering around so I always had to find the dogs first then talk to the owners and then actually arrange to meet up with them another day to actually create some images so I had a lot more communication with the owners of the dogs and for the new york dog and you know it actually have the telephone conversations or email conversations with them actually ask you michael where do you hang out with your dog? Where do you go? What places you go with dog? Well what's the favorite things to do so it was really it was a great way for me the next you find out what the new yorkers do do with the dogs because this book is about the new york dog and the life of a dog in new york. So it was really a great way for me to actually talk through the owners to find out the type of things which I'm I wanted to include within the book. So even though I was capturing beautiful portrait's for them off the dogs all most of the shots for the new york dog were set up um but they were set up in a way only because I arranged the shoots I knew the location I was going to and we just arranged to go spend an hour or so with each dog owner and the dog, and they just kept capture what happened within that with that time frame, so I didn't need to see really go with a specific idea in mind, but we did I knew exactly where I was going to shoot, what time of day the door girl was going to be using, and I had a little bit more information about the person and and the dog before I actually created the images. So this is what I'm gonna show you now is just a little behind the scenes video just to show you a bit of me in action. So keeping that in mind, this wass eight shot was definitely was pretty right, so I arranged to meet people here in the locations way wait, you could see there that actually was I'm gonna get you should be proud that was already proud of my husband he's a builder he shot all of that amazes me actually, it is incredible. I'm so lucky to have a partner who is incredibly supportive of me and he has yeah, he's he's made my patient his passion, which is just I'm really, really, really honored to have such a magical family, yeah, and they say he shot all that video footage for me which but I must say, I was getting emotional triggers that was such an incredible experience, and I'm just so excited it's like the books just being released, its art and so god, really, really great time, tio nothing. I'm I'm probably more proud of this book than any book I've done, just because it was so much if it went into work and that's for me, the book we had because unfortunately publishing industry like I see it, it is no in a brilliant position at the moment, financially publishing companies and not willing to give you much funding for things. So we've probably put mohr of our heart and soul and our money until this project than we have any project I've done in the past, and to see that and to know that it's out there and to get this opportunity to shear it on creative live is amazing. And also this is the first book look I've done and to raise money for an animal shelter as well. So it's really, really important for me that this book does well, because I'm trying to raise money for the longest standing animal rescue in new york city, the humane society of new york, they are an amazing organization who, oh, offer free vertical bit clinic. Procedures for your pits of if you adopt from them but you can go off the street if you don't have enough money to take your enemy to avi it to get treated you can go to them and talk to them about it they will either give you knowing them they probably would offer it for either very, very highly discounted rate or for no charge I shouldn't be saying things like this because I'm not a hundred position with of it they take it but I don't know that they're an incredible organization and do anything they can to help the animals I know there's hundreds of you out there who do teo do this but but I know that the humane society of new york has been like it was first established to help the horses of new york teo and it's been going I can't remember the year but it's not the information's all in the book so by the book and then you can read all about it but yeah sorry for my little bit of an emotional in that was just I'm just I'm really proud of you I just want to read some comments, okay that room chris emcee said in all caps just love you and fun family photos said you are awesome a lot of people were crying as well when they watch that video fun family photo also said that that video brought tears to my eyes to what a life and best said me till also a comment here, which is from brenda k, who said passion seems to be the common denominator was success because your tears just show how passionate you are about yeah, I know what you're doing so weii have people cry and this here is well, they're contagious on we've just put up a link to the page for the stick. So thank you for sharing that. Yeah, and also just to let just arrived from ryan people once again, that rachel's book did just come out. The new york dog is available on abrams of books dot com so check that out, folks on the comments keep coming in. Really kehlani santiago, your open heart is what allows you to create such beautiful work. Bless you for being so open and allowing your pureness to flow. I could feel your gratitude so people can feel thank you god to say to say thank you so much for always support it's just unbelievable. And I'm overwhelmed or it's amazing currently motion stops that exactly. Yeah, no more crying. Okay, let's, move on.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Black on Black
Photographing Kitten and Puppies
Shooting for Licensing and Publishing
Working with Adult Cats
Working with More Challenging Animals
Shooting on Location - The French Cat - The French Dog
Taking an Idea and Working Through the Process
Ways to Get Started in the Animal Photography Industry
Rachael on Location - Kelsey Creek Farm

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

This course was definitely worth the investment - both time and money. With about 15 hours worth of video sessions and amazing bonus handouts - Rachael provides some really useful, practical tips that you can apply straight away regardless whether you're just beginning your photography journey or are a seasoned professional. It was great to see Rachael at work in session - especially her techniques used to calm and quieten her models if needed. She had a potpourri of helpful suggestions such as remember to take both landscape and portrait shots (if possible), know your rights to take and use images - don't assume, be extra vigilant with cleanliness especially around kittens and puppies who may not have been fully vaccinated, keep kittens and puppies isolated in pens or cages if not in their own environment as they're escape artists etc. Her extensive experience with licensing agents and publishing houses was insightful ... and not for the faint-hearted, so it seems! Thanks Rachael for taking the time to share your know-how, tips and techniques and giving us a peek into your world and workflow you follow to produce awesome animal shots.


I loved this class! I don't I tend to be a "pet photographer" but I do want to be a "Pet friendly" photographer! I have gotten lots of tricks and tools to use while photographing occasional clients pets and my own! ( I have a horse, a pony, bunnies, cats, dogs and ducks) I'm super glad I watched the class live and I'm even more glad I bought it so I can re- watch it whenever I want :) (The shoot with the mini horse, dogs, chicken, duck and people was awesome! It loomed like my family picture would look if my husband didn't say "no" on occassion! lol)

Rebecca Potter

Love, Love, Love this course... Rachael is so down to earth and inspiring and I enjoyed all the hands-on shooting which shows you how patient you need to be for this type of photography. Truly an amazing course... Thank you.

Student Work