Vets, Pets & Portraits

On July 4, 2013 by Simon Fleming

Over the last couple of months a have been shooting a series of portraits for my local veterinary clinic Aberfoyle Hub Veterinary Clinic. The idea behind this was to produce a series of portraits composed of each staff member with their pets to show that they are just like their clients – they have a family member from the animal kingdom too, that they love very much.

Even though this was a legitimately commissioned job I felt that in a way this was also a personal project for me. This is my local vet where I take my German Shepherd Maya, as well as my past Shepherds over the years, and I know many of the staff well. A while back I had thought to myself that it would be a fun and challenging job to produce a series of portraits for them – pretty much under the same circumstances that these were shot – and made a mental note to propose this in the future. So when Ian & Barb who own the clinic asked me if I would be interested in doing just that I jumped at the offer.

These all needed to be shot on site at the clinic, so after a visit to determine where I could set up a miniature studio (I use that term loosely) we decided on one of the recovery rooms. Providing we scheduled the shoots around their busy times, and emergencies, this would be the most unobtrusive place to conduct our sessions. In this 3m x 4m space I had to set up a 1.5m white seamless background, and one light on a stand. Yikes. It was going to be a squeeze but doable – just. (the picture below doesn’t look to squeezy but it was shot with a 14mm lens)

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I decided to go with one large umbrella as the space really didn’t allow for anything more elaborate, plus one big umbrella would give me a bit more freedom in regards to subject posing without having to move the light source too much (which there wasn’t a lot of scope to do anyway). I also wanted a good solid white background – so having my subject close to it, along with lots of spill from the umbrella, that’s what I got. Lighting was courtesy of two Nikon speedlights mounted on a Joe McNally Triflash bracket. Both were set to SU-4 mode (optical slave mode) and triggered by another speedlight on camera firing on a low power setting at the ceiling. I shot everything from the back of the operating theatre outside of this room with a long lens to compress that tiny space as much as possible.

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Despite the tricky conditions these were really fun to do, and the results were great. I shot a few variations of each staff member with their pets, well as much as we could vary things in this limited environment. Each shoot covered a couple staff members, so the whole project took about six weeks to complete.

These are the final images selected by the staff, and each has had their’s and their pet’s name added to the image. They have all been printed and mounted and are now on display in the clinic’s reception.

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I had a potential B&W outcome going through my head when shooting these, and whilst working on the final selects I pulled out some of my favourites and went down the B&W path with them…

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I would like to thank Barb and Ian of the Aberfoyle Hub Veterinary Clinic for giving me the opportunity to produce these portraits for them, as well as the staff and their animals who were all great to work with. If you live in my area and are looking for a good veterinarian I can highly recommend theirs services too.

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