On 1 March I launched the second of three* Harpenden community initiatives for 2018 – and four days later, I am thrilled to announce that the response has been off the charts! More than 1,500 dog lovers have clicked on the application app and I have received a steady stream of beautiful, funny, quirky and downright cute doggie photographs and stories about these amazing animals.
What has struck me about reading these entries is the deep connection these dogs create with their owners through their absolute and unconditional love. What a blessing they are!
If you have a dog who will do or know someone who does – click on this link to apply to join in the Harpenden Dogs project.
So what is Harpenden Dogs all about?
Every year I work with our lovely local community (my Facebook group is Harpenden through the lens) to create a photographic project featuring our beautiful surroundings and the people (and their pets!) who make Harpenden such a great place to live. Previous projects include: Harpenden Doors, Harpenden Shoes and Harpenden Letters. In 2017 I started ‘Beauty spots of Harpenden’ but I am still working on this one – it wasn’t possible to complete it in a year!
I met Hagrid, our gorgeous model for the project, when out walking last spring – a huge Black Russian Terrier or Stalin’s Dog. Aptly named, he stands 6ft tall on his haunches but has the gentlest temperament and sweetest nature of any dog I’ve come across. I decided on the spot that he was to be the first subject of my project. I made myself known to his amazing and very accommodating owner Becky and the rest is history.
Amusingly, when I introduced my son to Hagrid (they stood eye to eye), the feeling of trust was instant and mutual and they went off to play ball immediately, as if they had some unspoken agreement between them.
I have chosen to shoot the studio portraits on a turquoise backdrop, which I hand-painted myself, to set off the various colourings of my models.
Support for the Harpenden Dogs Trust
One of the factors that I was concerned about when launching this project, was the dogs who wouldn’t make the selection, because there are so few spots. So I contacted Sharon Hurford, manager of the Harpenden Dogs Trust. Most of you will be aware that this charity shop was vandalised and set fire to in January and needs a complete refurbishment. It relies completely on the support of volunteers and donations. We agreed to offer everyone who applies to take part in the Harpenden Dogs project the opportunity to have a pawtrait of their furry friends (either in my studio or outdoors) for a small donation to the Dogs Trust. So far, the response to this has been fantastic and Sharon says that interest and donations have swelled since the project was launched. What a brilliant community we live in!
Applications for Harpenden Dogs closes on 31 March 2018 – after which we will have the difficult task of choosing the posers! I have invited Sharon to join me on this task, and we will probably find a third person to sit on the ‘doggie selection panel’ in case we need a tiebreaker 🙂
The photo shoot dates for the project and the pet portrait days will be announced early in April. Watch this space.
*The other two projects for this year are “Celebrating Harpenden Women” and “Harpenden Reds”, still to be announced.