A German Shepherd guide dog named Orient, led her blind companion Bill Irwin through the entire 2190-mile long Appalachian Trail in 1990. How amazing is that?
I’m Katie and welcome to my blog; expect lots of dogs, beautiful photography and the latest ramblings about what I am up to on this journey of building a pet photography business. If you’ve read the about me page, this entry is just going to elaborate a little more about my story so far.
I’m married to my soulmate, Jason, I have a beautiful stepson who’s just turning 12 and my Portuguese Water Dog, Nala fills my heart with so much love and certainly keeps me on my toes. Getting a dog has been one of the best decisions we have made and I can’t imagine life without a furry four legged little child competing for my attention.
Photography has always been a huge part of my life since I was at college, after realising that I just didn’t have it in me to be a vet, I set my sights on being an artist, much to my parents’ dismay for not choosing a more prosperous career. I also signed up to do an A level photography, not thinking much of it at the time, but only a few weeks in and I was hooked. I was given my first film camera, an Olympus OM10, I fell in love with film processing and the dark room and had some very inspirational teachers that helped my talent blossom and I soon forgot that I even knew how to draw or paint. I brought my first digital SLR, a Canon 400D (team Canon ever since!) and fell in love with wildlife and animal photography. I would dream of living on safari in Africa and being a staff photographer for the National Geographic but it turns out I am too much of a home girl and I don’t think that’s the life for me, never say never though!
I had been fortunate enough to have a job in the photography industry for the past 11 years, I found that during that time, working for another photographer, doing things their way and sitting in an office on photoshop all day fixing the same problems over and over and over somewhat dampened the spirit I once had for photography. I have realised now that I am out it, just how much I had lost myself in the monotony of the office job and I am left feeling quite sad that so many of those years just felt like something I had to endure to put food on the table. I will say that I did not exactly choose this path as such, my job was really good in the sense that I had a brilliant team that have turned out to be some of the best friends I have ever had, I was paid fairly well and I felt secure in my position.
Photography is a popular career and hobby at the moment, it has been for some time as SLR cameras have become more affordable and user-friendly, and there are not many smartphones that don’t feature a decent camera – the problem is everyone’s a photographer. I’ve often used this as an excuse when people have asked me ‘why don’t you set up on your own?’, the new technology that I had lost track of and the number of photographers out there was always daunting and I guess I was just, comfortable.
I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of how or why I found myself out of work, but it was really hard on me, I was more anxious than ever and I dreaded waking up each day and life was just, hopeless. This was all added to the stress of lockdowns and living in such a divided country where it seemed that everyday more and more people wouldn’t even think twice about turning on each other. It’s actually an enormous understatement to say that 2020 was stressful isn’t it? Luckily, the pub I used to work in when I was studying were looking for bar staff and I couldn’t be more grateful to be given the chance to go back to work there, it was my first proper job and I was there for such a long time, it kind of felt like going back home and I can’t wait for us to be able to open up again.
Now, if you would have told me in January last year that only 12 months later, I would be working for myself and photographing dogs, I would have laughed in your face; but here I am, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic being my own boss, learning new things every day and absolutely loving it – albeit very skint of course. What I’ve taken from this past year is that when you get beat down by someone, by life, whatever it is, you can either moan about it or do something about it, so I am finally putting on my big girl pants, shaking off all of my excuses and I am going to work as hard as possible to stand out from that sea of amateur photographers. There’s absolutely no reason why I can’t try.
Bill Irwin and his dog Orient, are an incredible inspiration to everyone, not just the blind.