For Goliath - My Furry Friend Who Taught Me How to Shoot
I can still clearly remember the day so clearly. The day I first picked up my wife's DSLR, a Nikon D7000, for the first time. It was a bright and sunny morning in April 2012 in Melbourne and I had just dropped my wife off at the train station for work, and was at home taking care of her childhood dog Goliath who at the time was 13 years old. I distinctly remember not having any clue how to use the complicated and intimidating camera in my hands.
The house was just a 5 minute drive away from the beach and Goliath was begging me for a walk. He's a Staffordshire Terrier, and for those of you who don't know, Staffies absolutely love to make this high pitched whining noise known as their 'Staffy cry' whenever they want something. In this case, Goliath wanted a walk, and he wasn't going to stop making his 'Staffy cry' until he got one.
So I decided...hey why not take Goliath to the beach and take pictures of him! We jumped into the car and rolled off to the beach. I let him off the leash and he charged around the beach in excitement. This was one of the very first photos I took of him. In bright morning light, with ridiculous (as in newby) camera settings of ISO4000, f/16 and shutter speed 1/2000. Lol...if you aren't familiar with camera settings, let's just say it would be blatantly obvious to any photographer that I had no idea what I was doing hahah...but I love this photo because it makes me remember the first time we took photos together, with me running backwards in the sand furiously trying to stay in front of him as had fun on the beach just being himself and free!
As time went on, I took Goliath on photo shoots at least every week. In Australia, there are a lot of places where you can let your dog off leash - at the beaches and parks - and Goliath loved all these places. We soon settled into a routine whereby he'd beg me every morning to take him out...and he didn't mind taking photos at all! I'd just tell him to stay and he'd either sit or stand there until I was done. So of course we'd walk around looking for good light and he'd strike a pose for the camera. I always made sure he got some treats when we got back home, and I'm pretty sure he didn't mind!
Thanks to Goliath, I had a full time model to help practice my photography with. I learned how to capture action (dogs don't like to sit still for the most part!), learned how to see the light would affect the look of his skin (or fur in this case), and the importance of shooting at eye level when it comes to taking pictures of animals. Most of all, since I was doing a lot of landscape photography at the time, Goliath had a big influence on my photography because I saw how much better a scene could look - and really come alive - with someone in it. That's why today I just love location photography working with people (and still love taking pictures of pets as well)!
I feel so fortunate that we were able to spend so much time together taking walks together - not to mention make countless photos. Not too long ago, just only after a couple years after I met him, we discovered that he had cancer. I did however get to visit him just a few months ago when I last went to Melbourne, and we went out to his favorite beach and did one last photo shoot. Goliath, I'll miss you so much. You were such an amazing little furry buddy and I'll miss your Staffy cry, your insatiable appetite for snacks of all kinds (bananas!), and our walks together. You helped to keep me company during a tough period in my life, and even if you didn't know it, taught me so much about photography too. I only wish we could have spent more time together. Run free in doggy heaven and keep smiling little guy!