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Pet Photography - Moments To Treasure

Lesley O'Donnell - Wednesday, October 10, 2018

This is a story about love in all it’s many forms; the binding connections between people and their pets and how children learn about life through their relationships with them.

The first chapter is of a self-effacing mother and grandmother offering her pet photography gift voucher to her daughter and her family to be photographed with their variety of pets. I decided to extend the voucher to include everyone and every pet, including Val’s cat Leo.

Pet Shots Photography,Labradoodle

Val thought that because of her advancing age Bella, the smaller and feistier of her daughter’s two dogs, may be the first beloved pet to cross the Rainbow Bridge so her desire was for me to capture some great images to honour her.

Pet Shots Photography, Boys with Dog

Bella, a cream-coloured Labradoodle, came into Amanda and Matt’s lives fourteen years ago when Amanda was expecting their first child. As a young pup she would snuggle up to Amanda’s pregnant tummy and it seemed that right from those early moments she and Spencer formed an inseparable bond. Even now she is always by his side.

Pet Shots Photography,Labrador Boxer Cross

Betty, the black Labrador-Boxer cross, joined the family 6 years later. She immediately became attached to Bella, followed her faithfully and was very protective of her. Bella liked being the top dog and was not averse to leading her playmate astray.

These two dogs are able to roam off-lead on their Queensland hinterland property, but not with each other. If both were untethered at the same time or found the door ajar at night they would embark on adventures to explore the undergrowth of the surrounding bushland. With all the enticing new scents to follow it was surely great fun when they set off from their rural sanctuary but alarming for them and their human companions when they became lost for several days on end and were unable to find their way back to the safety of their home. 

Pet Shots Photography,Cat

Spooky and Molly are the two cats in the family.

Pet Shots Photography,Cat,Boy

Impressively Olley, the younger son, bought Molly with his pocket money from the RSPCA 2 years ago. Aware that she was an old cat and probably wouldn’t live much longer he decided he could give her a loving home for the remainder of her life. She doesn’t often venture outside but loves his company and sleeps curled up on his bed with him every night.

Pet Shots Photography,Boy with Chicken

Spencer is more drawn to his nine chickens and is pictured here with Jet. Not only are they his pets but also an income earner as he sells their free range eggs to the teachers at his school. Pets with benefits you might say.

Pet Shots Photography,Family with Dogs

Unexpectedly Betty recently became ill and passed away. Bella is a little lost without her canine companion and, as you might expect, searches every nook and cranny trying to find her. I am so glad I was able to photograph this dearly loved dog with her family snuggling into her and showering her with their love.


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How A Cat Reversed The Fortunes of A Senior

Lesley O'Donnell - Friday, August 03, 2018

As August is the month of feline kings, I thought it especially fitting to write about a glorious thick-maned cat called Leo who I recently photographed on the Sunshine Coast.

He has a very interesting story.

Not only was he a rescue cat but, in the most unlikely of circumstances, he essentially rescued his new owner Val.

As a senior with declining health issues Val moved into an Aged Care Facility and was destined to stay there until the end of her days. But with some life changing treatment and sheer determination on her part, she managed to beat the odds and moved out to live independently again. Such an incredible and inspiring achievement!

Her one wish for her reclaimed life was to have a cat as a companion.

Her family thought it would be a straightforward task to visit an animal shelter and adopt on the spot. But Val had other ideas and felt she needed to sense an undefined “something” before making her decision.She wanted a “special” cat and it took many visits to many shelters to find him.

Waiting to be found was three year old Ragdoll Leo. He was accustomed to an indulgent life with another elderly citizen but became orphaned when she passed away.

Val couldn’t believe her luck when she first set eyes on Leo. “When I looked at him and he looked at me I felt an immediate connection and knew he was the one!” 

With his soft colours and captivating blue eyes he was so beautiful and good natured that she couldn’t understand why he hadn’t already been re-homed. Maybe he instinctively knew he had to wait for Val and the staff at the shelter held him back until they found just the right person to become his new carer.

The outcome was perfect and they are now absolutely devoted to each other. Leo comes and goes as he likes, enjoys basking in the sunshine on the windowsill as he watches the world go by, snuggles up for cuddles whenever he wants them (which is often) and allows Val to shower him with great affection.

Unknown to Val, until after she had signed his adoption papers, Leo’s original owner was so incredibly fond of her stunning cat that she wrote into her will that there be enough funds held over to support Leo in comfort and in health for the rest of his life. So for Val, this was an unexpected bonus to choosing the right cat. 

Val pinches herself about finding such a beautiful cat companion and wonders if she should enter him in Cat Shows. With a collection of his framed photos now adorning her living room wall she made the comment, “ My house now looks so trendy!”

I think this is a tale about good karma, the restorative properties having a pet can bring and good finding good.


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Three Pets Make Good Company

Lesley O'Donnell - Monday, February 23, 2015


Those of you with several pets will be nodding your heads when I say that the more animals together in a photo the greater the challenge in taking it. Especially if one of them is a young and playful puppy who thinks all other household pets are there for her entertainment. 

India, the beautiful Burmese cat in this family, is still coming to terms with being looked upon as a playmate to the baby in the house. She was not amused by having to be so near to Matilda and tried her best to wriggle free and retreat to a quieter, secluded part of the house. 

On the other hand Pip, the older of the two King Charles Cavalier Spaniels, was very chilled and once on Sue-Virginia’s lap was so relaxed in her position of comfort that at times she dropped off to sleep.

Sue-Virginia’s hands were fully occupied with puss and puppy wrestling but she still managed to maintain a happy smile as she cuddled up with her three companions. 

Who wouldn’t be thrilled to receive from a dear friend, such a thoughtful, personal birthday present? A pet portrait is a gift that keeps on giving forever.

We would love you to leave a comment below or you can book your own pet photography session or arrange a gift for your friend here.



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Double Trouble - Melbourne Cat Photography

Lesley O'Donnell - Friday, April 18, 2014

Kittens, like all baby animals, are so impossibly cute. They are hard to resist and have the power to make you fall in love with them. Just ask Mat who went off in search of one kitten and came home with two. 


Tabby cats Casper and Spike are brothers, alike but fortunately not quite identical in appearance or mannerisms. This is lucky because I was wondering how I was going to tell them apart. Their size difference helped as Casper is quite a lot bigger than Spike. Perhaps this is because, when he thinks he can get away with it, he helps himself to Spike’s meals as well as his own.

Now 10 years old, these two male cats are so adored by Caroline and Mat that they brought them across from the UK when they moved to Melbourne. It seems only natural to bring the two beings who make you feel calm, happy, chilled and loved to share your new home, no matter how far the journey may be.



Spike, the smaller of the two cats, loves to sit up on the back of the couch and watch the world go by outside the window. He also loves investigating small spaces and is content to curl up inside the smallest of boxes. In his more playful moments he enjoys being teased with a feather on a stick.


Casper has a special fondness for Mat and adores snuggling up over his shoulder. He has a loving and cuddly nature but can also be somewhat mischievous and likes to play with anything that Spike is amusing himself with. Typical sibling rivalry.

Casper’s favourite toy is a mouse on a string but he has been known to use the same hunting skills to catch and destroy giant live moths.

Fascinatingly these two cats are trained to come on command to a whistle. Clever.

They also have their teeth regularly cleaned which is something I have never come across before. Each has a tiny toothbrush and special feline toothpaste. I was intrigued to observe the process and see that they didn’t seem to mind.


I discovered at the end of our photography session, that both cats would look wherever I wanted if a piece of ham was held up in front of them. A new feline seduction trick for me to employ in the future.


This family of four will feature in our forthcoming coffee table book Connected Tales 3. If you would like your pets to star alongside Casper and Spike and help us raise funds for Animal Aid please register here. We would love to have you onboard.


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Pet Photography Melbourne - The Eyes Have It

Lesley O'Donnell - Thursday, September 20, 2012

Eyes that would melt you

How beautiful are these two wrapped in their luxurious mohair blanket? Both have striking features but personalities that are as different as their eye colours and coats.

Tarneka, the Birman on the right, loves to play and will often bring string and her toys to Julie and Paul so they will play with her. She has the most unusual ability to tell the time and without fail, every night she knows exactly when it is 9.00pm and time to be fed. She would bite Lily on the legs to signal it was time for supper. Clever and most amusing in her antics.

Lily’s nature on the other hand was quieter and she loved nothing more than cuddling up and being comfortable in a lap, usually Julie’s. A pretty Burmilla with beautiful eyes, nose and markings she had a sweet, loving personality and added much joy to her household.

I feel very privileged to have taken these photos as two weeks later, Lily sadly passed away. May she always be remembered for bringing beauty and love into her world.

Julie commented on 21-Sep-2012 08:55 AM
Lesley (Pet Shots Photography), the photos are amazing and having to choose just the one for the blog must have been a hard decision as there are so many amazing photos. Lesley, you are a very patient and special photographer. You understood our vision
and exceeded our expectations. I can’t wait to see the finished art on our wall. Thank you so much. We will be back... Regards Julie, Paul and a very sad Tarneka
Lesley O'Donnell commented on 21-Sep-2012 09:57 AM
Julie and Paul, Thank you so much for these kind words. It was indeed hard to decide between all the favourite photos of Lily and Tarneka. I could have posted at least fifty on this blog. Best wishes. Lesley
Marie L commented on 22-Sep-2012 03:23 PM
Beautiful photos of Beautiful furry people Vale Lily, we miss you. Tarneka is the big sister to Coco the newly rescued fur baby..
Jodie commented on 23-Sep-2012 12:31 AM
What a beautiful photo and a tragic story. The timing of this pic is amazing, in fact the pic is amazing. Sad time for the family, wonderful memories I hope. All the best.

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Melbourne Pet Photography - Better Homes and Garden Show

Lesley O'Donnell - Saturday, March 03, 2012

Waiting for the gates to open on day two

A huge thanks to my lovely friends, Leanne, Susie and Fi for assisting me to man, or should that be woman, my stand at the Better Homes and Gardens show last weekend. It was Melbourne’s hottest weekend this summer and was a real scorcher with two of the days reaching 37 degrees with the third cooling to a mild 34! The fierce heat was replaced with winds so strong the perimeter fence blew over so our endurance was certainly tested. Non of us would normally choose to be outside in such heat so ladies your efforts were all the more appreciated.


Seeking the last bit of shade and relief from the fan

Thanks also to my partner Richard who helped me hang the display and put it all together. Top effort!  As always, you were a supportive gem.

And a special thank you to all my wonderful clients and their pets for allowing me to share a snippet of your lives. You bring fun and satisfaction into my life. 

Guess who commented on 04-Mar-2012 09:34 AM
Wow what a time you have had and what great friends you have to help you in such HOT weather. Have been over there in heat like that and thought I was going to die after getting lost and having to walk a long way back. Just the same wish I could be over
there again one day. Who knows?

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Pet Photography - Checkmate

Lesley O'Donnell - Thursday, August 04, 2011

Pepper and Olivia

I am very proud of the photos I took of these two cats as initially it seemed I might not achieve them at all. 

Olivia, the black cat, was rescued from under a house after being dumped and I think her early experience of life has made her weary of strangers. I was forewarned that I may not even catch a glimpse of her as she would probably hide under the bed and stay well away from me. Curiously though she warmed to me and even let me stroke her and so I was thrilled to be able to secure some stunning shots of her individually and with Mercy, her mum.

On the other hand I had expected to easily photograph Pepper, the striking Rag Doll as she had been described to me as friendly, social and playful. However, she was totally freaked out by the clicking shutter of my camera and tried desperately to stay away from me. Much patience and coercing were required but the time and effort were well worthwhile and Mercy was rewarded with some beautiful shots of her adored feline beauties.

Anonymous commented on 04-Aug-2011 09:39 AM
Well what better background could you have had than the present one, perfect colours. They are beautiful cats too.It just happens that this morning I was visiting a lady and she had two ragdoll cats and they were beautiful too. Have heard of them but this
was the first time of actually seeing one in the flesh! You must have heaps of patience and it sure pays off. Keep going.
Anne commented on 06-Aug-2011 09:34 AM
I fully agree with tha last person,Anonymous, right on the button. You area very clever and patient.
Dina commented on 06-Aug-2011 04:46 PM
Lesley these are stunning shots of the girls. I have a real soft spot for Olivia because she is so timid - I'm probably the only other person she allows to pat her. To see her perform in these photos was amazing. As for Miss Pepper who tends to steal the
show each time I go over - she surprised me with her hesitation. You have certainly captured the girls' beauty. I love my stunning feline nieces. Great job Lesley.

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Pet Photography - Nine Lives

Lesley O'Donnell - Thursday, March 24, 2011

With 14 pets in their care (not including their fish) this family obviously loves animals. 
They have one dog, three cats, five guinea pigs and the same number of laying hens.

Some pets find themselves living in the most loving and nurtured situations. Others aren’t so fortunate and end up unwanted and abandoned. The lucky ones find themselves given up for adoption and are re-homed, while others are cruelly dumped in unfamiliar neighbourhoods to fend for themselves.

All three cats in this family are rescued. The two striking Siamese with their stunning blue eyes were adopted from Animal Aid in Coldstream. Living on a rural property comes with risks and Molly, the chocolate point Siamese, found this out when she was bitten by a venomous snake. Luckily her new owners cared enough to rush her to the vet and save her life for the second time. 

The tabby cat found it’s own way into their loving home. Along with another cat, it was apparently dumped nearby from the other side of town and lived in their garden fending for itself for quite some time. One day in a worsening state of health both cats looked longingly inside through the glass doors and were invited in for dinner. After checks with the vet and an unsuccessful attempt to locate the owners identified on their microchips Hansel and Gretel were allowed to stay and become part of this loving family. I think they have hit the jackpot!

Patricia & Maxwell commented on 25-Mar-2011 07:34 PM
What lucky animals they all are and great photos of them all too. Wouldn't mind one or two of the cats but too far away, anyway they seem to be living the good life now anyway. All the best to the owners and the lovely photographer who makes them all look sooo good too.
Anne commented on 09-Apr-2011 12:45 PM
What lucky animals they are to find such caring people to adopt them and now they are living the high life and what great photos of them all and the family who now love them. Lucky all round I think.

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Animal Aid

Lesley O'Donnell - Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pet Shots Photography is currently looking for people and pets of all kinds to feature in a limited edition coffee table book to raise funds for Animal Aid. The focus of the book is about the relationships between humans and their beloved pets and indeed between pets themselves.

You can see by the photo above that animals of different species often share great bonds and can be protective of and affectionate with each other.

Both Luca the domestic rat and Amy the Anotolian (Turkish Herding Dog) were rescued from situations where they were no longer desired by previous owners. Kerry, their doting owner can’t resist an animal in need and currently has three large dogs and five rats in her care. She even brought a dog in need back from a holiday in Port Douglas to re-home it with her Mum and Dad in Melbourne. That’s what I call devotion! 

If only everyone had a heart so ready to love and the ability to care unconditionally. 

Sadly this is not the case and many animals need to desperately find new homes. Animal Aid is one such organisation doing it’s best to find suitable accommodation for dogs and cats in need. They run a wonderful shelter in Coldstream, Victoria but are always looking for funds to support their noble work.

Through the book project Pet Shots Photography is aiming to raise at least $10,000 to donate to Animal Aid. 

If you and your pets can help this worthy cause and animals less fortunate please register here and we will contact you to discuss the details of project.

Thank you.


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Lessons Well Learnt

Lesley O'Donnell - Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lexi, Bowie and Monty relaxing with Trish

I have to admit that I am really impressed with border collies as a breed of dog. I have photographed several lately and they have all been really gentle, eager to please and retentive of lessons taught. 

This was really evident to me recently when I photographed Trish with her beloved pets at her home. She had a very stylish lounge room with an open fire and we decided that would make a lovely, atmospheric background for the portrait. However it was a room with highly polished timber floors and fine furniture that the animals with their claws were not usually allowed into. 

Lexi, the smaller dog, and Bowie the cat had no issues in breaking these rules but Monty the border collie knew he was not allowed in there and no amount of coaxing could persuade him. Our efforts to break down his training afforded us much laughter but he was steadfast and we had to respect him for that.

So the photos that included Monty had to be taken in the entranceway where he was comfortable, allowed to be and, as you can see from his smile, more than happy to participate. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

Anne commented on 20-Nov-2010 09:52 AM
What a lucky lady to have so many lovely pets and that they can all be together in a photo. Cats and dogs don't often mix that well. Just shows what a great dog Monty is and how well trained he is. Love looking at your phots as they are always just soooo good.
nicole lastrina commented on 11-Apr-2011 11:07 PM
hi, i'm the daughter of trish and am sad to say that we lost monty in february this year. He was an amazing dog of 14 years, who lost his battle to a blood disease where we had to make the decision to put him out of his suffering. When i look at the photos leslie took that day, i think of the beautiful dog that we once had that has set the bar for all dogs. We are fortunate enough to still have our little lexi and bowie... who we have poured all our extra love into...i'm so glad we had the chance to show people just how beautiful monty was. He is in our hearts forever.thank you so much to leslie for capturing the true essence of our beautiful babies and i commend you on you're passion...its a beautiful career to pursue xo
nicole lastrina commented on 11-Apr-2011 11:08 PM
hi, i'm the daughter of trish and am sad to say that we lost monty in february this year. He was an amazing dog of 14 years, who lost his battle to a blood disease where we had to make the decision to put him out of his suffering. When i look at the photos leslie took that day, i think of the beautiful dog that we once had that has set the bar for all dogs. We are fortunate enough to still have our little lexi and bowie... who we have poured all our extra love into...i'm so glad we had the chance to show people just how beautiful monty was. He is in our hearts forever.thank you so much to leslie for capturing the true essence of our beautiful babies and i commend you on you're passion...its a beautiful career to pursue xo

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