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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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Pet Photographer Photographs Daylesford Dogs

Lesley O'Donnell - Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Pet Shots Photography, Whippet, Jack Russell, Autumn

This is a story about two country-town dogs I photographed a season ago when Victoria was painted in splendid autumnal colour. 

They live in the beautiful historical town of Daylesford, a couple of hours drive from Melbourne. It was a joy to photograph these two rescue dogs both at home and in the magnificent Wombat Hill Gardens making the most of the picturesque scenery afforded in both. The late autumn conditions were cold but calm and it was not hard to find stunning locations to use as the backgrounds for the photos. Apparently just one week later all the trees were bare and winter had arrived so we were so lucky with the timing.

Pet Shots Photography, Whippet, Jack Russell, People

I had photographed Bert, the Jack Russell cross, along with four other small dogs with whom he shared his home at the time in my photography studio when he was a younger pup. Sadly the others have all crossed the Rainbow Bridge and although Bert has lost some of his teeth and has had a chunk bitten out of his ear he still has a spring in his step and is keen for an outing where he can sniff out new smells and, with the odd bark, draw the attention of strangers walking by.

Pet Shots Photography, Whippet, Autumn

This time though the focus was on the new canine addition to the family. She is a Whippet/Kelpie cross who loves chasing feathered creatures and consequently was named Tippi in reference to Tippi Hedron who starred in the movie “The Birds”.

Pet Shots Photography, Whippet, Autumn, Close Up Dog

Her brindle markings and bright pink collar were beautifully complimented by the yellow, orange and pink hues of the autumn leaves. They seemed to be the perfect backdrop to enhance this feminine dog’s features.

Apparently Bert is not fond of being touched so it was a most happy conclusion to my day when he snuggled right into me as we sat on the couch with his human family while they selected the images to adorn the walls in their home.

Pet Shots Photography, Jack Russell, Autumn

To have this darling wee dog choose my company and seek my affection topped off my perfect day out in the country!


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Ball Obsessed Dog Photographed in Melbourne

Lesley O'Donnell - Friday, December 16, 2016


These days, most people with pets have hundreds of photos of them on their phones. So when I ask if I can see what their pet looks like they can readily find some cute shots of their adorable furry friends to illustrate all the amusing and endearing little things that they do.


However, this was not the case when I first met Melissa. She said her dog, Rupert, was camera shy and really hard to photograph  and she could only find one photo of him to show me. She had plenty of her family’s other dog, Spencer, who enjoys posing for the camera.

So, when I met up with Melissa and her brother Michael to photograph them with their family dog I was expecting to be challenged. Happily that did not prove to be the case and I ended up with so many great shots of this wonderful little character that it was hard to know what to share on my blog.


Part Pomeranian, part Terrier, Rupert is an affectionate character who loves interaction and planting kisses on Melissa's face. He presents himself as a beautiful golden-red ball of fluff who mostly wears a happy, smiling face. I saw him only briefly with a serious expression and weirdly it made him look like a completely different dog; in fact almost like a fox. However, every single time I look at his serious face I feel affection for him which in turn makes me have a little smile.


Rupert is, however, not at all fond of other dogs and likes to loudly stand his ground when one comes into view. Photographing in the inner city streets of Melbourne therefore had the potential of a dog-to-dog confrontation and a very stressed subject. I scouted for locations carefully in the hope of avoiding canine conflict but there were occasions when we had to block Rupert’s view of passers by.




Rupert’s attention is easily focussed when there is a ball in play. He will jump extremely high to catch one and I was fascinated by how accurate he was at the task. Very athletic and impressively steady when standing upright on his hind legs.

Pet-Shots-Photography-Pomeranian-Catching Ball


As these photos show, Rupert turned out to be the quite the model dog and I really enjoyed my outing with him.

Melissa and Michael now have a wonderful collection of images that show that when the attention is all on him, Rupert can rise to the occasion and be the star. 


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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 Photographer in New Zealand

Lesley O'Donnell - Monday, February 15, 2016

Sometimes it is when you have been away from your home district and return to it much later that you see all the fabulousness that it offers. 


Helen is a fellow photographer in New Zealand so it was a great pleasure to photograph her with her dearly loved companion Taffy and discover the wonderful historic buildings her small town had to offer as backgrounds for these photographs. In the middle of last century New Zealanders didn’t value these buildings so I think it is especially valuable that these ones have survived and can be appreciated now.


Helen’s sense of styling with her colourful floral dress, Taffy’s matching rose and her vintage props made this a very enjoyable assignment.


With her long black fringe hiding Taffy’s dark, deep-set eyes she still managed to reveal her character and features and the close bond she shares with Helen.

Spoodles are gun dogs and, typical of her breed, Taffy’s favourite thing to do is to chase wild life. She doesn’t catch it but enjoys the sport of trying. She adores the freedom of running at the beach and local parks but also loves surveying her surroundings while riding around town in Helen's bicycle basket. She attracts lots of attention from locals while doing so which suits Taffy well as she is a social creature and loves meeting other dogs and people; especially children.

Taffy is quite particular when it comes to grooming. She is not drawn to water and therefore doesn’t like having a shower or swimming but she does love being dried by the hair dryer after these activities. She hates getting her nails filed and having her face and feet shaved. However, she doesn’t object to having a haircut. Perhaps this is because she loves the peanut butter treats she is given while being groomed.


I am coming to New Zealand again soon so if you would like special photos that show the love you have for your dog while I am there please contact me.


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Country Kelpie moves to Melbourne

Lesley O'Donnell - Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tristan met Cork as a newborn puppy while staying with a friend in country Victoria. He fell for him immediately but was instructed by his urban based parents that he was not to get another dog while living at home with them. You know how it goes: young man gets a dog, young man stays away some nights with friends, young man studies and works and then young man travels or moves overseas leaving the parents to become the care givers, exercisers and providers for the dog. 

Tristan stayed on the farm for a few weeks while on a country assignment. The more time he spent with this dear little Kelpie pup the more their hearts became entwined. 


Hard to ignore his desire to have Cork permanently in his life, Tristan developed a plan to subtly introduce him to his other family members and took him for a weekend visit to Melbourne. Ingeniously, he did this several times until everyone else had fallen for the puppy too. His plan worked and when Tristan returned to the city full time Cork came with him.


Cork absolutely adores Tristan and is always wanting to please him. I admire how this young man has invested the necessary time to train his canine companion to be so obedient and well behaved. He looks at Tristan with soulful eyes for guidance and loves riding in the car with him to destinations that always reward with doggie adventures.

Cork was a dream to photograph when he had his “pet portraits” taken as a celebration of his first birthday. Kelpies are so synonymous with this country and I love how Tristan included, with a fashionable twist, other Australian icons such as his Akubra, RM Williams boots and moleskins into their photography session.


This match has worked out perfectly for both man and his best friend.


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Maltese Shih Tzu Stars in Melbourne Studio

Lesley O'Donnell - Sunday, October 25, 2015


Meeting Buddy for the first time was tinged with sadness as Kylie had already informed me that he was suffering from mouth cancer and she wasn’t sure how he was going to respond to his treatment. There was an urgency to have photos taken that captured their relationship while he looked happy and well.

What struck me with these two was how close their bond was. Buddy by name and definitely buddies by nature.


This dear wee Maltese Shih Tzu stayed close to Kylie and, while we chatted about how she wanted simple, interactive photos to remember how close their relationship was, he rested his head comfortably across her knees as if that was the sole purpose of her lap.


They constantly shared intimate exchanges such as tummy rubs and kisses. As soft as silk, Buddy’s ears were irresistible to Kylie and he adored having them stroked. It was quite possibly his favourite form of affection.


I think Buddy understood human language because when Kylie spoke to him he would look attentively at her with his nose right up to hers.

Sadly Buddy’s health declined and he crossed the rainbow bridge shortly after these photos were taken.


Buddy was more than just a dog to Kylie, and indeed her extended family. He was a friend, a cuddle buddy, an exercise partner, a playmate and the perfect foil to life’s stresses. He would always greet Kylie with an enthusiastic welcome when she returned home from work each day. I know she misses him terribly and for the short time I knew him I completely understand why.

His photos will keep him alive in Kylie’s memories forever. RIP Buddy. You brought love and light into your world.

Read stories of other pets I have photographed.


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A Tribute to My Pet Loving Father

Lesley O'Donnell - Wednesday, October 21, 2015


In his later years my Dad, Barrie O'Donnell, had a particularly soft spot for cats and small dogs. They seemed to know it and would gravitate towards his lap and curl up with him on his recliner chair for a snooze in the afternoon sun.

These appreciative creatures didn't even have to be his own.

He didn't exactly attract strays but he did welcome neighbourhood cats into his home where they would secretly exchange mutual affection.

He liked to sneak them tit bits in the same way a loving grandfather would spoil his grandchildren with an ice-cream while on an outing. 

Mini, the love child of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mother and her Jack Russell beau, was perhaps, his favourite little dog over the past few years. She lived with my brother's family but was always excited when Dad went to stay. She liked to sit up on the back of the couch with her head resting on his shoulder or the top of his head. There, he was often observed feeding her little treats of cheese. They adored each other.

Mini died a couple of years ago and even though my brother's family have other dogs, none of them filled the gap left by the departure of Dad's favourite.

This year, at the end of June, my father passed away so sadly no more cats and dogs will get to enjoy the delights of his tender exchanges. Thankfully I have this image to remind me of the special bond he shared with this dear little dog.

Read other stories about people and their pets.


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Treat of a Dog - Pet Photography Melbourne

Lesley O'Donnell - Thursday, May 14, 2015


Every now and again I photograph a dog who is so damn gorgeous I could take them home to live with me. 

Felix is one such delight.


Thought to be a Kelpie Ridgeback cross, he has good looks, a charming personality, is content with himself, very intelligent and has an abundance of affection to share. He understands a great deal of vocabulary and responds earnestly to much of the conversation he shares with his companion Kris. 


These qualities are probably why he prefers to be part of what humans are involved in rather than spending time with other animals. Venturing out on foot (or should I say paw) and in the car are favourite activities but nothing beats curling up on the couch at home watching videos with Kris. 


This is seriously one lovely, loving and much loved dog.


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One Lucky Cat

Lesley O'Donnell - Saturday, February 28, 2015


This is one special cat. He even uses a surname!

Most cats spend their entire lives inside their homes or accompanying backyards and seldom venture further afield than their immediate neighbourhoods. Not so with Pepper. 

He began his life in Saudi Arabia, now lives in Melbourne and will possibly immigrate in the future to another distant corner of the big wide world.

This very handsome Persian/Turkish Angora feline goes everywhere, except to work, with Dorris. I must say I was surprised when she came for her photography planning appointment with Pepper untethered and snuggled up in her arms. 

That’s when I learnt that he accompanies Dorris on walks along suburban streets, goes with her to the market and on other outings. He is content to be with her and never tries to free himself from her embrace.


He is treated like a grandchild by her mother and when she knitted Dorris and her husband Shwen scarves, Pepper got one too. He certainly looks very dapper wearing it.

When a kitten, Pepper was very inquisitive and fearless. He is very fortunate that the saying, “curiosity killed the cat” wasn’t his swan song. Twice he fell from high balconies; the first time 2 storeys up and the second from an apartment on the sixth floor. Luckily he survived without injury and it was possibly Dorris and Shwen who were more shaken up by the incident. 

Understandably, Dorris now has a deep desire to protect him and this is possibly why he now leads such an inclusive lifestyle. 

Pepper loves to stalk (although not hunt) and his favourite game is hide and seek and catch me if you can. This fluffy cuddle-muffin eats his dry food directly from Dorris’s hand and enjoys curling up in bed alongside her.


Dorris rescued Pepper when in Saudi Arabi and I can see that everyday he repays her in spades. 


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