This is the next segment in a series of interviews with accomplished Schutzhund photographers. I hope that by reading what has inspired other photographers, the equipment they use and how they go about taking pictures you will be encouraged in your own photography.
Louise Jollyman and her husband, Martin Barrow, are avid amateur photographers, and have photographed Schutzhund dogs at work in the US, Europe and the United Kingdom. They own Brimwylf Kennels and Brimwylf Photography in Norwalk, Connecticut. You can see their pictures on the Sport of Schutzhund Photo Gallery (www.bjspanos.com). Also, visit the Brimwylf Web site (www.brimwylf.com) to view pictures Lou and Marty have taken at local, regional, national and international Schutzhund events.
How did you get started in Schtuzhund photography? What was your inspiration?
My family has always taken lots of snaps of vacations and events, so I have been involved in photography in one form or another my whole life. When we started the sport with my first dog, Bodeus, it seemed a natural combination. After a few snaps, it became a challenge to get that perfect shot – the heeling picture with drive, the flying long bite and so on.
How long have you been taking pictures? What events have you taken past and future?
After many years of hand-me-downs, my parents bought me a new Canon Sureshot 35mm for my 14th birthday. I loved to take pictures of our dog and a horse I had on loan at a local stable. It was also where I had my first exposure to the clarity of SLR photography as a friend of mine practiced taking shots of me jumping at competitions. The other half of our photography team, my husband, bought his first camera when he came to England as a masters student to document his European adventures.
Now, we take pictures at all the events we go to, trying to get that “ideal” shot of each other’s dogs working, and also take pictures of friends and other dogs at the same event. We are not “official” photographers, just enthusiastic amateurs. We took pictures of all the DFW (Dallas-Ft. Worth) Working Dogs trials between 2001 and 2005, South Valley Sports Dog club in the UK between 2005 and 2009, the 2008 South Central Regional, the 2009 South Central Regional Conformation Show, the WUSV in 2006, 2007 and 2009, and the BSP (German nationals) in 2006 and 2008.
What is your philosophy about photographing Schutzhund dogs?
I try to capture the power and personality of the dog in the shot as well as the teamwork between dog and handler. For example, I try to get a photo of each dog in the heeling work at that moment when the dog and handler are in perfect stride.
What equipment do you use? What is your favorite piece of equipment that you use for Schutzhund photography? What are “must haves” for any serious Schutzhund photographer? How about for those just getting started?
My husband has a Canon 40D with a Canon 24 – 70 mm 1:2.8 L, and I have a Canon Rebel XTi with a Sigma 28 – 200 mm for basic training shots. I like the rebel as it is smaller and lighter for me to handle, but the 40D gets excellent depth and saturation. When we are at trials we use our Canon 70 – 200 mm 1:2.8 L, it is absolutely worth the expense to get beautiful sharp action shots with either body. For portraits and close action shots, the best lens is the Canon prime 50 mm 1:1.8. I would definitely recommend this lens, as it is amazing value for money. For getting started, I would highly recommend a Canon Rebel with the Sigma lens and the 50 mm lens, which you should be able to get for less than $750. If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, a mid-range Canon Powershot for about $150 can take some superb action shots. Can you guess?! I’m a Canon fan! I’ve had quite a few, and they are very durable. Many of mine have been dropped off horses, in mud, sand, got hot and cold and have lasted several years. The other important part of photography is processing the shots; we use Adobe Photoshop Elements for this.
What is you favorite type of picture to take? How do you go about taking the picture? What is the most challenging picture to take? How to you tackle it?
The action shots can look really amazing particularly in obedience and protection, but catching the exact moment is difficult. It helps to have a camera that can take a burst of several pictures very quickly, even then it is difficult to know when to start pressing the button to get the best part.
Some of the most atmospheric pictures we have taken have been during tracking early in the morning, a long shot of dog and handler in the mist or frost or presenting the article, with the dog looking up at the handler.
Other tips for new and/or experienced photographers?
Digital cameras are great. Make sure you have a big enough memory card and take as many shots as you can!