A few weeks ago we at iLHPfeatured the renowned animal photographer, Alex Cearns of Houndstooth Studio. As promised, Alex agreed to share some of her animal portrait tips with us this week.
iLHP: Hi Alex, thank you for joining us again. What inspired you to become a photography tour leader and can you tell us about your trips?
Alex: Thank you for having me! I’m a huge advocate for getting out and seeing the world. I love that most places in the world are accessible within 24 hours – you just need the time and funds to get to them. Travel has opened my eyes to the way other people live. I’m humbled to see those who have less than we have here in Australia. I think travel broadens a person’s mind, and exposes them to circumstances and situations that fire up the soul and senses. The first thing I always want to do when I get back from a trip is to go again.
Alex Cearns is one of Australia’s most awarded pet and wildlife photographers. Her Houndstooth Studio is a leader in the market of animal portrait photography. Her natural animal handling skills, remarkable images and contribution to lives of rescued animals has earned her high regard across Australia’s animal lovers. With over 50 awards to her name since 2008 (including a nomination for the 2014 Australian of the Year) she has worked tirelessly to capture and showcase the essential joy that people find in animals.
The inspiration for this November shoot came about organically and over time. First was Chanel’s much talked about Fall/Winter 2014/2015 Ready-to-Wear fashion show, where an entire supermarket was recreated as a catwalk. The models didn’t so much strut, as they shopped their way through the makeshift supermarket runway, reminiscent of your local Target.
Second was the Moschino Spring 2015 collection featuring the rebranded Barbie and McDonald’s themes. Both shows took everyday icons and turned them into high fashion. Both shows unashamedly represented consumerism. This led us to our idea.
I have been back living in Toronto now almost a year and a half and I still find myself fascinated when photographing architecture and cityscapes. I believe, as I have mentioned in the past, that each city I visit, I find myself inspired by different elements. When I first began shooting, when I was living in Paris, I would mostly shoot the sunsetting, the Seine and recognizable landmarks. Eventually I became fascinated on photographing candid images of people. I have always been moved by images of people captured in their natural state. Once people are aware the camera is pointed at them they change their demeanour immediately.
I have never had much of an interest in portrait photography until this past summer. A local portrait photographer Irvine James whose work I had been admiring for awhile invited me to come along on a shoot with him. The images Irvine captures are absolutely incredible and inspired me to want to learn the basics of portrait photography.
My sister-in-law had been asking me since springtime to take family photos of my niece and nephew. I was actually hoping that someone like Irvine would offer me their assistance shooting the kids and not leave me to tackle this all on my own. I am not properly equipped with lighting, reflectors, etc. I do not even know exactly how and where to place the subject in order to achieve the best results. It’s all completely foreign to me.