Linda is a NZIPP Accredited Professional Photographer based in the Wellington region of New Zealand’s North Island.
Hi Linda, can you please tell us about yourself?
I grew up in the Hutt Valley, the daughter of a very gifted creative who could turn her hand to anything from cake decorating, sewing and knitting, to upholstery, porcelain doll and teddy bear making. While I never followed Mum into those particular crafts, I’ve come to realise over the years that she did pass her creative gene on to me – it simply manifests in different ways, like photography. I was a bit of a dreamer as a kid – constantly in trouble for day-dreaming instead of focusing on what I was supposed to be doing!
What type of photography do you do and where do you get the inspiration for your work?
I’m a pet photographer, focusing primarily on dogs, but anything with paws, claws or hooves basically. Because I photograph outside (rather than in a studio) I get my inspiration from my surroundings. I always look for the way light interacts with the landscape to inspire my shot list. Photography purists can stop reading now, but I love a bit of back light, some controlled flare and I’m a big fan of bokeh!
Did you always want to be a photographer? Did you dream of something else when you “were grown up”? How did it all start?
I used to borrow Mum’s film camera all the time when I was a kid, and looking back, guess what my photos were always of? Animals! But it never occurred to me back then that I could make a career out of it, and I worked as a freelance writer for many years instead.
When my daughter was born, I began playing around with a film SLR to take photos of her, and I was hooked by shallow depth of field which is still my style today I guess. I loved taking photos of friends’ kids, and I’d often say things like “oh, I’d love to be a photographer one day” but never did anything about it.
When my dog died in a pretty harrowing accident, I suddenly didn’t want to work from home anymore. I kept expecting to see him on the couch, chin on the armrest, watching me work. So I enrolled at the Photo School in Kapiti to get me out of the house and learn photography ‘properly’ instead. During the process of learning, I discovered an absolute love of pet photography, so I set up my business and it really helped me heal.
What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out?
I’ve got three—all from NZIPP’s own Craig Turner-Bullock! First, sell products, not digital files. Second, turn your business process into an unforgettable client experience they’ll want to repeat or recommend. Finally, “If you can get lower, you’re not low enough!” What can I say? I spend a lot of time lying on the ground, with my nose and camera in the dirt!
What are your other passions?
Music, singing and dancing. Sadly, I’m not particularly good at any of them, but you don’t have to be good at something to enjoy it, right?!
Who has influenced you the most? Is there any other photographer that you consider as a kind of idol?
This one is easy – Glen Howey and Craig Turner-Bullock.
Glen was one of my tutors at Kapiti Photo School and he ran these incredible landscape photography workshops that really honed my technical skills and opened my eyes to the beauty of the natural environment.
Craig came into my life when I met him at one of his workshops four years ago, and he continues to inspire me with his creativity, his ability to keep changing things up, and his crazy-good business acumen. It’s a real testament to him that he’s such a supportive and encouraging mentor to me and so many other pet photographers, even though we all work in the same specialist field and are by definition ‘competitors’.
How important is using an editing platform in your final images?
As a pet photographer, it’s pretty crucial, as I often have to remove leads etc. I do most of my editing in Lightroom, but use Photoshop for the final polish.
Do you have a “bucket list” for 2020?
Ha, I had the ultimate bucket list trip planned this year. A one-way ticket to learn French in Montpellier and then travel around Europe, where I planned to photograph dogs in some of the world’s most iconic locations! I was due to leave on 21st March, but a little thing called COVID-19 had other plans for me. C’est la vie! There’s nowhere I’d rather be right now than New Zealand, with our Prime Minister at the helm, while the whole thing plays out.
Why did you join NZIPP?
I think I knew as soon as I started my pet photography business that I wanted to become accredited by the only qualifying body for professional photographers in New Zealand – NZIPP. With approximately 95 million photos and videos shared every day on Instagram, I knew it would be the best way for me to stand out as a professional pet photographer in what is clearly an overcrowded marketplace.
Being accredited by NZIPP also means my customers have peace of mind knowing that not only have I reached a certain creative and technical work standard, but also that I’ve agreed to be bound by NZIPP’s Code of Conduct.