Bramhall Park Dogs - Why I Love This Location In Every Season!
Why Bramhall Park?
If you have ever visited this park, you will be sure to agree with me when I say how truly lucky I am to have grown up with this beautiful green space on my doorstep. I never appreciated it as much as I should have in my younger years taking it for granted and often walking my 2 springer spaniels in Happy Valley rather than venturing across the roundabout. But it is only when I started making a serious go at my pet photography business that I realised the perfect spot was right back where I started.
Location is so important!
Picking a location for each session is an important part of my role. If I pick somewhere that the dog will be stressed, uncomfortable, easily distracted or overwhelmed then, well, it's just not going to get the results I need to wow. I can photoshop pretty much everything out of an image, except an unhappy dog - so this decision is critical!
Likewise, I also need enough variation from the location to create a gallery full of different images - posing to show off their physique, action shots to showcase either their grace or goof in flight, foliage to peep out of etc and also space for them to just enjoy doing what they love best in between all the mental stimulation of the session.
Bramhall park boasts all of these requirements! There is beautiful woodland for quiter areas, great for easilly distracted pooches. There is open grass land for sprinting after the ball (always my favourite shots!) The gorgeous rockery that is so often backlit by the early morning sun for beautiful lighting, magnificent old trees, bridges and narrow paths to create leading lines towards the model, textured walls to pose on and look out pensively into the distance (also great for playing hide the treat!) rows of well kept flower beds in the warmer months, and of course the grand tudor hall with its stunning archway doors and recognisable features.
What more could photographer (or a dog) ask for !?!
PERFECT IN EVERY SEASON - wINTER
Winter can be a slow time for outdoor pet photographers, many set up studios indoors, or take some time to catch up on marketing. But I find that in 99% of cases, outdoor photo sessions are way better for dogs, and many of them thrive off getting filthy on their walks (I had spaniels - its how we know them best!!) In the cold months at Bramhall park, it's easy to stick to the paths also avoid a mud bath like most local walking spots at that time of year!
The sparkly frost on the main field, the twinkling lights of the christmas tree, the low winter sun peeping through the trees and the delicious hot chocolates from the cafe afterwards (it's on me!) make even the coldest sessions an enjoyable experience. I actively encourage owners to bring along a scarf and have a cuddle with their fur baby outside the hall to keep warm before they turn into the ultimate mucky pup!
Autumn, however is my absolute must-shoot season. In general, but especially in Bramhall park. The main field is transformed into a golden wonderland, filled with exciting sniffs, and the leaves are great to scatter treats into for relaxing scent games between shots. The sun is low and flattering, everything is bursting with colours that really compliment most fur types and look incredible on canvas with muted tones. The leafy green backdrop of Bramhall becomes a rich playgroud of colour and opportunities for my camera - and your doggo will look INCREDIBLE! This season is perfect for flat faced dogs and breeds that don't cope well in the warm weather.
The birds are singing, the sun sets early and the colours are emerging. The gorgeous purple crocus that have been delicately planted are out in full bloom and there is a gentle breeze in the cool air. Although it may look like these pooches are trampling on the flowers, they certainly are not (I know how hard the friends of Bramhall Park work for these!) Not only do I magically remove the lead from the shots, but I can add in extra flowers and photograph from a perspective where it looks like we are directly in the beds, whilst actually only treading on the pathway. I find little dogs photograph best in the spring flowers, they are short enough to create the most vibrant of spring portraits.
Not that we are graced with many scorching days of summer here in the UK, but what we do have, certainly brings life to Bramhall park! Daisies and buttercups carpet the grass, the trees are bursting with vibrancy, the rockery garden is blooming with summer plants and the river is calling for a cool dip on the paws!
Don't think I won't be getting in that river with you- I like to cool off as much as the models - its great fun for splashing around and getting some extra awesome action shots whilst staying comfortable!
International pet photography awards
In 2021, my very first year photographing dogs, I entered my image of scout the black labrador into the international pet photography awards. Do you recognise that doorway outside the hall?
Along with my photograph of pip the polecat, I receievd an e-mail saying that they had both been shortlisted and that he had placed in the top 25 - This was a huge achievement for me! I love this image because although I was actually attempting a similar shot of him running down the path towards me, he spontaneously jumped in the air to grab the stick that his owner had just picked up, and I managed to capture him, all fours off the ground! I think it perfectly captures the true spirit of the bouncy Labrador breed!