I’m not exactly sure how many people read blogs anymore, but I thought I’d experiment with setting one up and see how it evolves. Then I was stuck for what to write, so I asked a friend what they thought would be interesting topics, and she mentioned; the stories behind the shoots, blogs specific to photography, or she suggested, perhaps blog about our life.
I think it’ll be organic to be honest and I’ll blog about whatever is topical at the time, but for my first blog I thought I might tell you a bit about who we are.
So…. settle in, or don’t, but here goes.
We are Kelly, Sam and Charlotte Pilgrim-Byrne. Myself (Kel) and Sam have been together now for nearly 23 years. We are a same-sex couple, which a lot of people don’t realise – with the shortening of Sam’s name. I have over 30 years experience working with animals – including obedience training, and animal handling for film and television, having established the first animal casting agency in Perth in my early 20s, which Sam joined me in when we met. We even trained a piglet for a documentary on Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet!
About 14 years ago, we decided that we wanted to start a family, but at the time it was illegal in Western Australia for us to access IVF clinics as a same-sex couple. That lead us to becoming involved with Gay and Lesbian Equality who at the time were working hard to change a raft of legislation to provide equal treatment under the law for same-sex attracted people – both singles and couples. One of these laws was the ability for ss couples to access fertility treatment.
It was a long battle, one that saw us on the front pages of the major newspapers in Perth, and in the letters to the editor section of the newspapers every other day. I’ll never forget doing an all night sitting in Parliament House – the night the legislation finally went through! Walking outside to blue skies and an entirely new equality landscape was something that we’ll never forget.
So, fast forward a few years and we found ourselves with an extraordinary donor, and on our (very) long journey to parenthood. It ended up being a 7 year process from start to finish, with multiple miscarriages and a change of who would carry because I had medical issues that prevented my body from both achieving a pregnancy, and then carrying beyond about 8 weeks.
Finally, in September 2007, our daughter Charlotte was born and we brought her home to our family of six dogs and 9 cats. There are no words to express how this felt.
During this time, we both worked full time at a large Perth University in senior administrative roles, but it wouldn’t be until around 4 years later that a friend asked us to look after her dog when she went on holidays. Although we lived in the kennel zone (and still do), and we had a license and kennels to keep multiple dogs, we never thought to board dogs because we didn’t like the idea of confining them to kennels. Anyway, we agreed to look after our friend’s dog and we discovered that not only did we enjoy having an extra furry visitor, our dog pack did too. It was this experience that spawned the idea of cage-free dog boarding, where dogs could stay with us and live as part of our family, sleep on beds, etc, and Kelly & Sam’s Dog Boarding was born. Since then, the demand for what we supply has been amazing and we are often booked out months in advance. Our house is slowly falling down around us, but the dogs are happy, so it’s worth it.
This leads me to how the photography started (you knew we had to get there at some stage, right?)
I began to take photos of the dogs who were staying with us, and I discovered I loved it! Increasingly, owners would ask for copies of my photos and some even offered to pay for them, so I decided to go learn how to get off automatic settings and begin to truly know my camera. Then it became clear that our positions at the University were shaky, with a large restructure imminent. Very fortunately, around the same time, the wonderful and talented pet photographer, Charlotte Reeves was coming to Perth from QLD to offer 1:1 mentoring sessions and I snaffled the last place available. I learned with her in a few hours what would probably have taken me months to self teach, and along with the personal learning I’d been doing, I felt I was finally able to open up the books for paid animal photography bookings. Our first official paying clients were Leda the American Bulldog and Ronald the Bulldog puppy and on the same day we also offered a shoot free of charge for a beautiful lady whose dog had cancer, as did she. Sue and Arwen touched my heart and cemented that I had made the right decision to leave my secure office desk and jump into the wilderness. The picture featured is of Sue and Arwen (dec). These 3 were the start of what has been an amazing journey so far.
As well as animals, I now photograph ALL THE THINGS! I freelance for the Community Newspaper Group, Examiner Newspapers, local Councils, food and product photography, families, fashion and I’m open to other opportunities as well – I specialise in… photography 😉 I generally don’t do weddings or newborns though because there are so many spectacular photographers already covering these services.
So, that’s a start. What would YOU like to see in our blog posts?