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Rhodesian Ridgeback photographed in Melbourne Parkland

Lesley O'Donnell - Wednesday, May 11, 2016

All dogs are special but some burrow themselves so deeply into human hearts that they become THE SOURCE OF JOY in their companion’s lives. This is how Dawn regarded Bella.


I photographed these two a few years ago now as subjects for my second fund-raising book Connected Tales 2. I recall a fun time in parkland Bella had not previously visited. We were both amazed and amused at how keen her senses were and how she drew our attention to every creature in the undergrowth and the possums sleeping in the trees; critters we would probably have never noticed if left to our own inadequate observations.

Recently Dawn contacted me again. This time it was with the sad news that her beautiful rescued Rhodesian Ridgeback cross had struggled through unbeatable cancer. She wondered if I still had the photos. I suggested that, in honour of Bella, I make her an animated slideshow of her 40 favourite images. Dawn thought that would be a great idea and then wrote me this touching letter of appreciation.

Hi Lesley,

The mail has arrived ..... I just need to tell you that it was a great deal more than I thought it would be. I was expecting one page with one image on it, then scroll forward to the next.

Yes, I have wept and wept ..... so obviously there is more grief inside ... but what you have done for me, I cannot thank you enough for.

I had forgotten some of the placements we had - some of the images of me with her are just so moving and it really and truly captures just exactly what the relationship was that I had with her - even then only having her some 6 weeks or so. The connection only grew stronger - hence the deep void now she's gone.

Yes, it will give me great comfort. Once the tears stop I know I will cherish every single frame and see her personality, her curiosity and interest in everything that was around her that day - and know that was precisely my girl.

I will frame one of the pages you also sent .. I wasn't expecting that either as it is just beautiful.

I've had anticipation all week on this coming and I guess the pressure valve has now been released. I'll put this on my digital frame and play it on the TV later tonight.

I'm really truly overwhelmed at all you have done and so very grateful to you for the suggestion.  This will stay with me, life long.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am so grateful that I can have these images. It was a magical day for me.

Dawn x

P.S. I am now taking bookings for my fourth coffee table book. If you would like to feature with your pet please let us know and, like Dawn and Bella did, you can help us raise funds for animal charities.


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Melbourne Pet Photography - Herald Sun Article

Lesley O'Donnell - Friday, February 24, 2012
How lucky to be interviewed as an expert in my field! Thanks to Paula Beauchamp for writing the article.

Thanks also to my clients Kathryn Foster and Hayden Varcoe for relating to the media the importance of their pet photos. Beautifully said.

Katrhyn Foster and Hayden Varcoe are grateful for the photos O'Donnell took of their pug Mylee and French bulldog Beau. A large canvas hangs in their living room.

"Mylee was diagnosed with leukemia around that time, so it's the most beautiful memory you could hope to have," Ms Foster said. "Even the way they've been photographed suits their personalities and you can see the bond between our dogs and us."

As quoted in the article that featured in the business pages of the Herald Sun ...

When portrait specialist Lesley O'Donnell saw a niche and set up Pet Shots Photography three years ago, the business had few competitors.

"Fifteen years ago, people would never have organised a photo session around their pets. Today, the pet is often the whole reason for having photos taken."

Professional photographers say it has become harder to succeed in business since the rise of digital technology, because untrained people can more easily set businesses up.

And the importance of savvy marketing has grown.

O'Donnell released a coffee table book featuring portraits of owners and their pets in December.

The book was conceived in part to raise funds for Animal Aid and to raise the profile of her business. 

Connected Tales features more than 50 pets and has raised $4,500 for the charity. "It celebrates the fascinating role pets have come to play in people's lives," O'Donnell said. "It's heartwarming."


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Pet Photography - Model Dog

Lesley O'Donnell - Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cindii taking centre stage

I have to admit that I could easily have taken this little dog home to live with me. She is super affectionate and has personality plus. It is easy to see why Stephen and Carole adore her so much. Unexpectedly she spent time with other families before coming to live with them and I just can’t imagine why others didn’t want to keep her forever.

Cindii, a Shih Tzu Poodle cross, is just a delight. She smiles all the time and is so eager to please and pose for the camera. It could help that Stephen is studying photography and Cindii is one of his favourite subjects so she has had a great deal of practice in front of the camera. 

I just loved working with her and bearing witness to all the fine tricks she can do such as jumping through hoops, standing on her hind legs and shaking hands. She seems to get such joy out of doing all these things.

Cindii featured in our first coffee table book Connected Tales. If you would like to star with your pet in our next edition please register here.


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Lesley O'Donnell - Friday, August 19, 2011

Echo retrieves again and again and yet again

It is such a delight to watch the endless joy certain dogs experience from fetching, especially when in the water. I am sure we could learn something from them about how to surrender ourselves to the pure pleasure of having fun. They have it nailed.

From the moment we arrived at the beach Echo was excited and ready to play with her ball and retrieve sticks from the long stretches of sand and the water. She found it very hard to wait while we took other family photos and showed great excitement when she was finally freed from her lead.

Echo, a Labrador Kelpie cross was adopted as a puppy from Animal Aid and has brought much love and laughter to Natalie and Evan. She now has the important role of teaching her new sibling Betty the ropes (see the blog written on August 12th). Betty is attached to her like a shadow but Echo doesn’t seem to mind in the least.

Annie commented on 22-Aug-2011 01:09 PM
What white teeth he has too. Who gets tired first, bet it is the person throwing the stick! Great photo too. Keep it up your standard is high.

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True Companions

Lesley O'Donnell - Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Margaret and Xisca share a deep affection for each other

When she retired Margaret decided the time was right to adopt a lap dog into her family. Being a responsible person she made the decision to choose a dog that needed rehoming and went to Animal Aid in search of her new companion. At the time they had no suitable small dogs but Margaret did not return home alone.

Her heart was stolen by a young border collie who was so scared she couldn’t walk and of course Margaret couldn’t resist rescuing her and introducing her to a happier life. As you can see from this photo there is now a deep love shared between the two and they have become inseparable. 

Xisca loves to play with her ball and in doing so soon turned Margaret’s prized backyard into a dirt run. Nothing a few thousand dollars and brick paving couldn’t fix though! As you can see what she gives to Margaret is way more precious, in fact I would say it is priceless.

Annie commented on 19-Aug-2011 07:50 AM
Wow, what a lovely story and a very lucky dog. I am sure Margaret will have many happy years of love with her new friend and, maybe with a bit of luck, can teach it new tricks and good manners too. Dogs are lovely and very true to you too when treated right as Xisca will be.
Lesley commented on 30-Oct-2011 03:41 PM
Another divine photo Lesley ... it gives me goose bumps when pets and people 'find each other' through the shelter ... thanks for reflecting these relationships so beautifully
Anonymous commented on 12-Oct-2012 10:43 PM
Hi Lesley - Just wanted to let you know that Xisca passed away on 22 September, she was 15-1/2 years old, a wonderful life, we had many loving years and will always be thankful for your photos and the enjoyable day we spent with you last year. Next month mum will be turning 80 and we have reflected on the photos you have taken with much joy. cheers Marita

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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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It's Raining Cats and Cats

Lesley O'Donnell - Tuesday, October 05, 2010

                              Missy enjoying a snuggle

Missy is a very pretty cat who was found abandoned on the roadside in rural Victoria. When surrendered to the Bairnsdale Animal Aid shelter in 2009 she was 5 months old and a real little character. She was lucky enough to be adopted and now resides in Box Hill with her loving owner. 

She travelled into the studio to have her portrait taken but t she is a cat who loves to go on adventures. She takes the occasional car trip to visit elderly friends and their pet dog in her stride. No point in being house bound.

Missy delights in playing hide and seek and fetch ... and yes she is a cat!  She just loves games and delights everyone with her playful and cheeky antics. I am sure you will agree she could win over anyone with half a liking for cats.

If you would like to give a cat like Missy a new chance in life go to Animal Aid and see who is looking for a new family and home.

Anne commented on 13-Oct-2010 01:27 PM
I could keep her too,and what a lovely photo she, and her owner, take. You take great photos Lesley, keep it going. Your photos make for many happy people I'm sure.
Lesley Humphreys commented on 28-Oct-2010 05:55 PM
Lesley .. this was such a great day for me and Missy and Fraser. Your obvious delight in working with people and their pets made this a real fun and 'moving' session. I think the cats were most amused when they saw you outstretched on the floor to get that special shot! You certainly capture the essence of that special relationship ... thanks and well done ...

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