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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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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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Melbourne Pet Photography - Pets In The City

Lesley O'Donnell - Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A beautiful setting for a portrait of a beautiful family

These three pooches are all gorgeous, gentle souls who recently enjoyed an outing in the city to have their photos taken with their mum and dad, Susan and Steven.

Charlie and Oscar are both Moodles but have totally different personalities and play different roles within the family. Oscar, pictured here with his favourite treat ball is the boss of the trio or perhaps even all five family members.

Cuddly Charlie, whom I am told, loves to suck on the feet of his stuffed hippo showed no interest in it on the day. Too many other interesting things going on - new things to watch, new smells to sniff and new nooks and crannies to explore.

Holly was rescued and has become a vital member of this family. She runs everyday with Steven and like most Border Collies is very smart and happy. She is obsessed with balls but won’t pick one up until she is given the command to do so. I adore this photo of her patiently waiting and keeping her eyes squarely on her desired prize. She also loves to affectionately share kisses with her human companions.

This family will feature in the second edition of Connected Tales, a coffee table book celebrating the relationships between people and their pets. If you would like to feature in this book with your pets, your $95 participation fee will be donated to Animal Aid to assist them with the wonderful work they do rescuing and re-homing dogs and cats. Register here to be part of this worthy project.


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Pet Photography Melbourne - Easter Bunny

Lesley O'Donnell - Friday, March 23, 2012

 Archie enjoying some affection

Archie, a Dwarf Lop Eared Rabbit, is rather fond of a cuddle. Katrina loves to read. When she is lying on the couch, bed or lawn with a book Archie sees this as an invitation to share some intimate time and enjoy a few pats. Archie’s coat is so soft to touch it would be hard for Katrina to resist indulging him.

He also has a penchant for strawberries and Katrina said he will stand erect on his hind legs to reach them. After eating several he looks like he is wearing lipstick. Sounds soooo cute but I wasn’t to see him with red lips on the day I photographed him. Although we had three punnets as a treat for him, Archie decided not to eat more than a few of the leaves. He did however treat himself to several pansies, his other favourite food.

Archie will feature in the next edition of our fund raising book Connected Tales. If you would like to be included with your pet, please register here. We would love to have you on board.


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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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