Nothing beats watching a great relationship between a working animal and it’s handler. Whilst my first love is still horses, having had dogs all my life, I love watching working dogs do what they do best. On the last day of the shooting season I visited my brother in the Midlands to photograph working dogs at his local shoot.
Working Dogs are not too difficult to photograph. They’re well trained and attentive, so if you stick with the handlers you can get some great shoots of them bounding towards you with their retrieve. I was particularly impressed with the Springer Spaniel who kept himself busy picking up in the fields with the guns, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a Curly Coated Retriever. I wish I’d been a little more organised on the day as I just missed a great shot of one of the Labradors leaping over a fence with a pheasant it had picked up. Stick close to the handlers. These gun dogs are so friendly and obedient you can usually get a good variety of interesting shots whilst waiting around.
I recommend travelling light and wearing appropriate clothing for the weather, as there’s a lot of walking across muddy fields involved. It’s all good exercise!
Here are a few of my favourites from the day:
If you are interested in photographing working dogs, the other thing to keep an eye out for is Field Trials competitions in your area. These are working tests for gun dogs, and hotly contested, so you’ll see some of the best dogs around. I only found out today that a good friend of mine, who works at Badminton House, Richard Preest, won this year’s National Cocker Championships with a dog he bred. Congratulations Richard!