21 Jan Interview with Josie Baughan from The Artisan Hound
Interview with Josie Baughan from The Artisan Hound
I know I’m not the only who finds Josie’s job massively interesting and I also find myself waiting for her to upload new photos. That being said, I thought I’d ask Josie some questions and get to know her better. Check out the interview and enjoy some of her favourite pictures.
I’d like to add something that Josie hasn’t touched on. I’m presuming she hasn’t as she’s very humble. A charity called Animals in Need have many dogs needing forever homes and Josie will take the cutest photos of them. I know these photos are seen by many people and I don’t doubt that the photos help the dogs find the perfect new owners. She does all of this in her own time.
Here’s a perfect example of her work for Bill and Odie. She really captures each dogs characters.
- Do you have any dogs? If yes, who are they?
That’s a question I get asked a lot and I always feel like a bit of a fraud when I have to say, no! In fact, I don’t have any pets! I know right? Not even a goldfish? What kind of dog photographer doesn’t have any pets?
The thing is, I currently live in a flat, so pets are a bit of a no-no for now. But I still manage to surround myself with animals in other ways – from volunteering at my local shelter to spending time with my wonderful clients, until the day I can have a furry family all of my own.
2. How old were you when you first showed an interest in photography?
I first picked up a camera at University when I was 18. Up until then I’d been much more of a traditional artist, mainly sketching and drawing. Growing up I wanted to be an animator or a concept artist for a big film studio! *cough* Disney *cough*
3. How did you get into it?
To be honest I didn’t really enjoy photography that much at university – it was one of the modules we had to study and I felt like I was just doing it to tick a box. Looking back I realise that I just hadn’t found a subject matter and a style that I was passionate about. It wasn’t until a few years after Uni when I was volunteering at my local animal shelter that I realised just how much creativity I could channel through my lens when I turned it to animals. I started out photographing the dogs at the shelter, who were kind enough to give me the space and time to get really creative with my shots, and everything just unfolded from there!
4. You are so talented in what you do. When did you first realise this?
It’s really hard as an artist to ‘admit’ that you have a talent. I’ve always been creative and artistic, since I was tiny, but I’m really self-conscious and critical of my own work so would never admit to feeling particularly talented! When I first started out as a dog photographer it took a long time for me to find my niche, and my work was pretty mediocre. Once I realised the importance of finding my own style and way of working, my work improved pretty quickly. I think ‘talent’ is a mixture of things –feeling passionate and confident about doing what you love, but also pushing yourself and having the commitment to keep working and practicing. You never stop learning!
5. I’m an old school fan so I can remember when your business was called “Jelly Bean Photography”.
Why did you call yourself “Jelly Bean Photography” first?
Honestly? I pretty much plucked it out of thin air. JB are my initials, so I took that and mixed it with something fun and playful (and delicious). It was never anything more than that, and I feel pretty embarrassed about that looking back on it.
6. Why did you rebrand from that to “The Artisan Hound”?
When I was starting out, I threw the Jelly Bean brand together with little thought as to who I was as an artist and how I wanted to come across to my clients and followers. I hadn’t really figured that out yet, and I think that confusion and uncertainty was rubbing off on everything I did – every social media post, every client encounter. I felt like I didn’t know how to speak to people and connect with them, because I didn’t truly know why I was doing what I was doing. Over the years I’ve learned that having an authentic brand is equally as important as producing beautiful work. It helps me connect with people who are passionate about the same things as I am!
7. Was it an easy transition?
It took a long time and a lot of effort – I spent a good year digging deep into ‘why’ I wanted to be a dog photographer, which was hard because it’s easy to just say ‘because I love dogs and I love photography!’ but it’s so much more than that. It was a really personal journey and I came out on the other side feeling so much more confident because I finally knew what the driving force was behind my work, and I could communicate that so much more easily with my audience. Since rebranding I can talk about my work with so much more passion and honesty – I don’t feel like I’m saying something just to please other people or tick a box. Everything just feels right.
8. What made you specialise in dog/animal photography?
I’ve always been a big animal lover – in spite of not owning a pet right now I grew up around animals of all shapes and sizes. There’s just a fascinating beauty about them, amplified by the fact that we don’t always understand them. I chose dogs because they’re so naturally expressive, distinctive and free from the self-consciousness that often comes with photographing people. Nature is key in my work, and dogs are as natural as they come. Every breed is unique – every expression, every movement, every profile. Whenever there’s a dog in front of my camera I feel completely free to explore all the things I love most about art.
9. How long have you been a professional photographer?
I’ve been a professional photographer for six years now, four of which have been spent photographing dogs (it didn’t take me long to realise that photographing people just wasn’t for me!
10. Where are you based?
I live in Northamptonshire, but the beauty of shooting on-location is that I get to travel all over the place.
11. What radius do you cover?
I cover a 20 mile radius of Northamptonshire as standard, but travel all over the place for my clients. I’ve even travelled as far as Texas in the USA to photograph a client in the past!
12. If you could only photograph 1 breed for the rest of your life what would it be?
Do I have to answer that? I genuinely don’t think I can! If I had to narrow it down I think it would have to be something fairly small, quite fluffy, with pointy ears… Maybe a Pomeranian or a Spitz-type breed? Small dogs are so much fun, you can get really creative and fit them in little nooks and crannies, and getting down low with them is really fun!
13. Is there a breed you haven’t photographed yet? Which breed/s would you like to have a session with?
There’s quite a few – in fact I have something of a ‘bucket list’! I would love to photograph a Shar Pei, Pharaoh Hound, or Bull Terrier, anything with unique features really! I also really love cockapoos – they have such brilliant personalities and are always such a pleasure to photograph.
14. Does a dog need to have a specific type of character/attitude for you to achieve a successful shoot?
I wouldn’t say that a dog needs to have a specific type of character, or even skillset, to have a successful shoot – although I’d be lying if I said that calm, highly trained dogs aren’t easier to work with! To me, success if mainly defined by a happy, comfortable dog – you’re never going to get good photos if they’re stressed out or upset! Even if a dog is excitable, nervous, or a bit naughty, I’ll work closely with the owner and spend plenty of time making sure the dog is comfortable with me and our environment before we start shooting. Once I know what makes them ‘tick’, I can use that to keep them motivated and guide them into getting the shots I need.
15. Can the human owners be involved or is it dogs only?
My specialism lies in photographing dogs specifically. It’s what I’m passionate about and I have the confidence that the images I create will be truly special. I have to admit I just don’t have the same passion for photographing people, and I don’t have the same level of experience when it comes to getting the best photos of them – I’d hate to do a bad job! So while I don’t encourage it, I do make exceptions at times, especially if the dog is elderly or ill and we want to capture a few moments of owner and hound together.
16. Do you only photograph dogs, or will you consider any pet?
Since rebranding, I’ve become a dog-only photographer. I’ve had years of experience working with dogs, understanding their behaviour and capturing every little quirk and detail. I adore all things furry or four-legged, but I couldn’t claim to have the same level of knowledge or passion when it comes to equine or feline photography, for example. If I were in my client’s shoes, I would want my photographer to know their subject/genre inside out, to give me the best possible experience.
17. Do you prefer dogs to be freshly groomed for each session?
Personally, I don’t mind. I do ask my clients to think about it, because whatever the dog looks like on the day of the shoot is how they’re going to look in their photos, and those photos are going to serve as a precious reminder of their faithful friend when they’re no longer around. You’d want them to look the way you remember them, even if that means they’re a bit scruffy around the edges!
18. What do you do if a dog has poor to zero recall? Is remaining on the lead an issue?
You’d be surprised how many dogs have to stay on lead during my sessions – I’d say over half of my shots involve the dog been on a lead! With the right setup in camera, I can easily hide or edit out a lead, and even a collar from time to time! Not every dog is going to have a perfect, sit, stay or recall, so I’ll bear this in mind when suggesting a location too. There are plenty of ways to keep a dog happy and safely under control without compromising on getting amazing shots.
19. What happens if it rains?
You probably wouldn’t be surprised that this one happens a lot! My style is heavily dependent on dry, sunny weather, so if rain is forecast before or during a session I will always suggest rescheduling if we can. I have yet to meet a person who actually enjoys standing in the rain for two hours, and if a client is hoping to get the sort of images that make it into my portfolio, we’re not going to get those on a wet, muddy Saturday afternoon! Rescheduling can be tricky if I’m trying to fit in a shoot for a birthday/Christmas surprise or if the dog is ill/elderly – but it’s always worth it if we can.
20. Where do your prices start from?
I’ve recently launched three unique experiences that are tailored to suit a range of budgets, starting from £100. Most of my clients will choose to invest between £500 and £1,200 in total to create an artwork collection that’s perfect for them.
My most popular is definitely the Signature Session. For £250, this includes a photography session for up to two dogs at any location in Northamptonshire. I also include a beautiful welcome box full of goodies and helpful guides, as well as an in-person viewing & ordering session to help you choose your favourite images from the shoot. At your viewing session, your £250 session fee is converted into a product credit, ready to be put towards any artwork you order.
21. How do you price your work and what does this cover?
It’s important that people don’t get hung up on pricing (as a photographer or a client!). Every photographer will (or should) price themselves based on the costs of running their business, which is why no two photographers are priced the same. It’s rarely a reflection of the photographer’s talent or skill, and more around what’s involved in giving our clients the best possible experience – from the welcome box or beautifully wrapped gift certificate, right through to the meticulously crafted images, the personal viewing session, and the stunning artwork that can be enjoyed for years. A professional photographer will spend hours perfecting their experience and tailoring it to their client, and pour their heart and soul into their work. It makes me so sad to see other photographers undervaluing themselves or selling themselves short, because as artists we are worth so much more than the paper our work is printed on. I’m very lucky that my clients come to me because they are as passionate about art as I am. They crave that unforgettable experience, and the artwork that will take pride of place in their home and serve as a beautiful reminder of their faithful four-legged companion, regardless of how much it costs.
22. What 3 tips can you give for achieving the perfect dog pose?
- Work out what makes your dog ‘tick’. Are they a foodie? Will they do anything for their favourite ball? Maybe they just love the sound of your voice. Once you find out what motivates your dog, you can use it to guide them and position them more easily.
- Get down low. Yes, it looks adorable when your dog gazes up at your with their puppydog eyes, but you can get way more poses and expressions just by getting down on the ground and putting yourself in their shoes. It’ll make a world of difference when you see the world from their perspective!
- Patience! No dog is perfect, and no matter how much we learn about them or train them, we can never tell them exactly what we want them to do. If you have a particular shot or pose in mind, you need to accept that it’ll take time to help your dog understand what you want from them. So plenty of patience, understanding and respect is key. Even if you don’t get the exact shot you had in your head, it’s more important to maintain your bond with your dog, and make sure they have as much fun as you do.
23. Top 5 items you take to every photo shoot to assist on getting the best photos
- Noise makers – whistles, kazoos, duck calls. If it makes a weird noise, I need it in my bag! Most dogs are very receptive to new and strange sounds, so if it helps me catch their attention – even for a split second – it can help me get the perfect shot
- Water – a session with me is a lot like a regular walk, so the essentials are a must. I always carry water and bowl with me, especially in the summer. Keeping dogs cool and hydrated is super important, not just for photos.
- Treats – I usually suggest that owners bring their dogs favourite treats (especially if they have special dietary requirements) but I always have some on hand – some dogs just prefer what somebody else has in their pockets besides mum or dad!
- My treat bag – not just for carrying treats, I keep all my little essentials in a treat bag around my waist for super easy access.
- My SpiderPro holster – my camera slots into this holster and sits conveniently around my waist. Not only has it saved my neck and shoulders from constant strain, it’s also incredibly useful for when I need both hands free to manoeuvre a dog and owner!
24. What are your most proudest moments since starting your business?
Being hired to photograph a client in Texas, USA! I was absolutely floored when Robyn of Haute Dog: Couture Pet Photography chose me as her photographer, and flew me to her home state to photograph one of her beautiful dogs, Jake the Berner. I was so honoured to have been chosen, especially by a fellow dog photographer – needless to say I was equally as terrified, no pressure eh?
Seeing my work printed on a big wall at Crufts – I had no idea about it! I just walked around a corner and saw this huge photo staring back at me, I thought ‘those puppies looks really familiar…’ I got all excited and giddy like a little child!
Being awarded my first Gold Portrait Photographer of the Month Award
by the MPA. I’d only joined the Master Photographers Association a couple of months prior, so was over the moon to have my work recognised in such a short space of time.
It sounds a bit cheesy, but I get a little sense of pride every single time I hear that a shelter dog has been adopted after I’ve photographed them. I’m not saying that my photo was the reason the dog got adopted, but I’ve been told by several adopters that my photo caught their eye and eventually led to them adopting that dog. I absolutely love that I can play a small part in that sort of success story – images hold so much power, even if it just stops someone scrolling on their newsfeed for one second, it can lead to saving a life.
Big thanks to Josie for taking the time to answer all my questions. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did and I felt it was a great insight into her job. Looking forward to seeing what Josie gets up to in 2019. If you’d like to know more about her trip to America please click this link here.