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Posted Sunday, July 1, 2007
Jeanette Tayler & The Artistry of Paw Prints
The relationship between humans and their domestic pets provides a fascinating insight into the character of both species, especially the humans!
It is said that `a dog is a man’s best friend’ but judging by the relationship between Jeanette Tayler, and her clients - it’s a woman’s best friend too!
Jeanette is the owner of the unique Paw Prints Photography Studio and Art Gallery on Dale Road in Matlock, and her `clients’ are mainly dogs and cats, along with a whole menagerie of other pet animals both large and small, ranging from stick insects to highland cattle!
Her portraits recently won first prize at the prestigeous Bakewell Show, another is currently entered in the National Master Photographer of the Year Competition, and Jeanette, who is an elected and Licensed member of the Master Photographer’s Association is quickly establishing herself as Derbyshire’s premier pet photographer.
The talented Mrs. Tayler is an artist in other mediums too, and the matriarch of a very artistic family; husband Chris is a Home Office Computer Consultant and an exhibited photographer, whilst daughter Anna is a Design Consultant (B.A.Hons) from the School of Art & Design at Staffordshire University who exhibits and sells her own work.
Perhaps uniquely, mother, father and daughter all have examples of their individual artwork on exhibition at the Matlock gallery, where the word pedigree defines not only the breed of animal, but also the quality, expertise and skillfull attention to detail of the proprietor!
“The magic in an image of your pet speaks for itself”, says Jeanette who is the doting owner of constant companion Cleo, a 10-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that she describes as `the most beautiful dog in the world’.
Her credentials are impeccable. Jeanette was born in London, and brought up on a farm in rural Hertfordshire, which she describes as “a good grounding for a lifetime dedicated to the love and care of animals”, adding “and also, a background entirely responsible for nurturing an ambition to capture the essential spirit of animal subjects in detailed studies through the medium of photography”.
Jeanette came to Derbyshire almost thirty years ago, but it was a move to her current home at Darley Dale in 1998 that really sparked her ambitions into life.
“Essentially I have always been an animal lover, and it’s my love of animals, and particularly my own pets that inspired me to become a photographer”, she said. “We all take photographs of those we love, and those of us who love our pets want lasting images of them. I’m no different, only inasmuch as most photographers learn their profession and then specialise in a particular medium or subject, but I did it the other way around - I chose my subject first and then trained to become a professional photographer”.
So what about the old adage often quoted by actors and artists alike, `never work with children, - or animals?
“I can’t imagine anything better, says Jeanette, being a dedicated animal photographer is my life”.
She turned her lounge at Darley Dale into a temporary studio and began the quest to fulfil her dream of becoming a qualified professional with her own gallery.
Three years of academic study followed; initially a GCSE in Photography followed a professional photography course at Norton College, and Jeanette honed her new found skills with a year of “mostly fashion and still-life studio work at Chesterfield College”.
As a former member of the RSPCA Board of Trustees and a variety of other local and national wildlife groups, including being a founder member of the Natural Photographers Association, her contacts in the animal world have allowed Jeanette plenty of opportunity to indulge her artistic passion and her work soon began to be recognised.
In between producing work for the RSPCA, she completed a successful commission at Crufts, is currently producing commissioned work for the PDSA Calendar and Greeting Cards, and began entering – and winning competitions.
Finally Jeanette achieved the ultimate professional accolade in June this year, when the quality of her work was judged of sufficient merit for her election to the prestigeous ranks of The Master Photographer’s Association.
She fulfilled her dream when she opened her own Photography Studio and Art Gallery, the launch of which coincided with her prize-winning exhibition at the Bakewell Show. The exhibition provided a major boost to her burgeoning new business venture, when as a result, she received a remarkable total of thirty one commissions!
Like all professional artists Jeanette is a perfectionist, and it is her meticulous attention to detail and technical expertise, allied to her empathy and understanding of her subjects, which gives the clue to her rapid rise to prominence and her astounding measure of success.
For the technically minded Jeanette uses a Nikon D1 X and a Nikon D100 for all her creative portraits, (not exactly Box Brownie’s at almost eight thousand pounds for the pair!) and her exclusive studio is fully equipped with all the latest digital technology, which, she says, “allows my clients to select exactly what they want, and to actually see the portrait before it is printed and framed. It’s a guaranteed way of ensuring customer satisfaction”, she adds wryly!
As a perfectionist she always wants to create the perfect picture. “ I want to create that `Wow’ factor, says Jeanette, when my customer’s leave, I want them to be aglow”, she adds passionately.
What about technique? “There is far more involved than just to point the camera and shoot”, she assured me.
“With animals coming into a new and strange environment, the first objective is to make them feel relaxed, and they seem to instinctively recognise my love for them. Different species and breeds react in different ways, so a knowledge of animal behaviour, or pet psychology comes in very handy!” Jeanette also reveals that she even uses music to help relax some pets - perhaps to soothe the savage beast?
“Lighting is vitally important for definition, and apart from a main light I also use hair lights and a soft box to highlight every whisker, strand of hair, tuft of fur or feather in vibrant detail”, she explains.
The backdrops, both black and white, were specially imported from America, adding tone, texture and contrast to each carefully crafted image, which is then immaculately presented, mounted and framed in contemporary style.
The results are stunning and testimony to the fact that most of her commissioned work comes by recommendation.
“I enjoy the continual challenge of capturing the individual spirit and character in every animal that I photograph, she explains, and each one brings it’s own rewards. There is a lighter side too and some amusing incidents, like the time I was photographing a lovely big slobbering St.Bernard who suddenly shook his head – and fused all the lights!”
An example of her technological skill is also amusing, and as Jeanette points out, “Another consideration, especially with dogs, is whether the breed is long-haired or short-haired, and whether male or female. One lady, looking through the images of her short-haired male spaniel, pointed to one and said `I like that one best of all, but he’s got his lipstick out’. She was delighted when I digitally removed the offending `lipstick’, - now with long-haired breeds you don’t get that problem”.
Jeanette Taylor is a very talented lady and an artist in her own right, and a successful professional business woman. But she is also a modest housewife and grandmother of two, who attributes her success almost entirely to her family.
“When I voiced my ambition to become a professional pet photographer and have my own studio and gallery, there were those who doubted the ability of a middle-aged housewife to achieve such status, but my family never doubted it and without their support, who knows, perhaps my passion and desire alone may not have been enough”.
Somehow I doubt it, Jeanette Tayler and her unique Paw Prints Photography Studio and Art Gallery have the right pedigree and seem destined for success.
Following the successful launch of her studio and gallery in July, Jeanette fulfills a further ambition next September when she goes on a photographic wild-life safari to Botswana, with an exhibition at her Matlock gallery to follow.