Hello all! I'm Kirsty, the dog crazy, animal obsessed, pet photographer behind Dog&Co. I've wanted to start a blog for a while now, as it gives me another creative outlet to share my love of all things pets, and gives me the opportunity to share stories of my adventures, as well as valuable insights, tips & recommendations from my experience working within the New Zealand pet industry...I've certainly learnt a lot!
But first thing's first...how did this all begin? It's probably time for me to step out from behind my camera lens and share a little bit about myself, and how I came to be a pet photographer (i.e. what drove me to follow my heart instead of my head!)
First of all...what was your dream job when you were a little kid? Did that change? The other day I found an old school book from my very first year at Greenhithe Primary School (1998). Our task was to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wrote about being a hairdresser. It was my dream. I loved my butterfly clips so much that I'd decided I was destined to be a hair dresser. Obviously that changed like most of our childhood dreams do. BUT, I do remember one of the first times that I really, actually, seriously considered what I would like to do when I grew up. A calendar photographer. You know, like take photos of beautiful mountains, and lakes solely for use in a calendar. I was probably around 8. The calendar part may not have stuck...but photography was obviously something that always excited me. Every time we would go on a family holiday, or I would go on a school camp (Camp Adair & Shakespear Lodge were the best), my parents would buy me a Kodak disposable camera. That was a big deal. Your photos have to be perfect every time...there was no delete button or second chances. I took it very seriously and was so proud of being able to fill little mini photo albums with my adventures, captured through my own eyes.
That passion never left. I am still just as excited and passionate about the art of photography now as when I was as little squirt idolising the Spice Girls, wearing my BabyG watch, living for those Scholastic book orders and excelling at being a pedestrian monitor...oh and The Sims duh.
Obviously animals were also a large part of my life growing up. My favourite part of visiting my grandparents was getting to pat the donkeys who lived next door. As a kid we always had cats. I'm pretty sure every scond day my brother and I would beg my parents to get a dog though. One of the most memorably awful days of my childhood was the day that my mum accidentally drove over our cat, Fox, as we arrived home from my violin lesson (those were more awful memories). He passed away sadly. Then one of the best days of my life was the day my Dad arrived home from work with a dog. My first dog, Misty. One of his colleagues could no longer care for her so took her into work to see if anyone wanted her. Misty ran straight into Dad's office. He took one look and couldn't leave without her. She was beautiful.
Throughout high school, media studies was always my strongest subject and I loved making short films. That's when I had a lapse in judgment and set my sights on a different form of visual art - film and television production. I thought it was a more viable career option, so I set photography aside as a hobby. Ugh so stupid. I studied media at Massey Uni and graduated after three years with an A- average (still chuffed about that). I then did a brief introductory course at South Seas film school before committing to a full course. I wasn't feeling it. And I kind of knew that it just wasn't for me. Film production just didn't give me the creative satisfaction I yearned for. Let's be honest. When you're in the film industry, you're always working on somebody else's creative vision. There is never going to be the creative freedom and ability to express yourself visually, because you are just one of hundreds of people working on the same project.
I wasn't sure what my next move was. All throughout uni I had a part time job at Sharrow Boarding Kennels in Waitakere. I decided that while I tried to figure out my next step, I would work full time at the kennels. I was there full time for a good two years caring for the most amazing pups. But Sharrows isn't a pack-run kennel as the dogs are exercised individually. Therefore we got a lot of dogs come to us who weren't allowed at other pack-run kennels due to behavioural issues. This means that I quickly grew confident in handling a lot of difficult dogs, from nervous and timid dogs, to dog aggressive dogs, to highly-strung stressers. So understanding and dealing with different temperaments was a huge part of the job...as well as picking up a sh*t load of poop on a daily.