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Wild About Animals

If Bronwyn Liebke’s early memories are anything to go by, she was always destined to become a pet photographer. “My grandparents gave me my very first camera when I was about eight,” says Liebke. “It was a Hanimex, and I still remember the whining sound of the flash warming up! My first real memory is standing in front of the mirror taking a self-portrait, wondering how it would turn out. My other major memory is always taking pictures of my dogs.”

In fact, despite coming from a family that only pulled out the camera to capture “important occasions”, Liebke says she, “always wanted to document events. I think I was quite aware as a child how precious, funny and unique moments can be and thought, unconsciously, I’m sure, that if I could capture it on film I could keep that memory alive forever.”

While her initial profession was communications and marketing, after much deliberation and the urging of her husband and friends, Liebke took up photography as a full-time career and started her own business, Pet Clix, whose focus is on providing gorgeous pet portraits. Her first shoot was of a “couple of border collies”. At the time she started Pet Clix there were “hardly any” photographers specialising in the pet portrait arena. “I saw the niche and felt I could fill it,” comments Liebke. “Money was never the motivator for me, I wanted to be healthy and happy, and wearing jeans and dog-slobber makes me far happier than a suit and heels!”

Indeed, Liebke confesses she has always had an affinity with animals. “I’ve always had pets of various descriptions at home, looked after neighbour’s pets when they were away, and of course, initially photographed them on my little Hanimex,” she says. “The things in life that make me happiest are animals and photography. A job marrying the two is my dream. It really was a ‘Eureka’ moment when this very simple idea finally hit me. I thought, ‘Why have I never thought of this before? It seems so obvious’.”

Of course, shooting animals is not without its challenges. According to Liebke, establishing a rapport with the animal is the foremost factor. “It is imperative they feel comfortable with me and the camera. I’m sure you would find a stranger pointing a large, black machine at you very intimidating! I believe animals can sense who likes them, and I have experienced time again animals that willingly come to me or sit next to me or on me after their owners have said ‘oh my pet doesn’t like strangers’ or ‘my pet only comes to me’…” Still, photographing animals has other unique hazards. You can wind up “rolling in poo” for one thing. “Dog, duck, donkey…It’s all happened,” laughs Liebke. “When I’m in ‘the zone’ I’m far too engaged with the camera and pet to check where I might be rolling. I always keep a change of clothes in the car…”

What’s in Liebke’s Bag?

  • Nikon D300
  • Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 Lens
  • Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 Lens
  • SB90 Speedlight
  • Polarising Filter
  • Lens Cloth
  • Squeaky Toy, Pet Treats

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