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Dog photographer offers black dog discount inspired by German spitz Millie

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This Bristol-based dog photographer has a talent for capturing black dogs and their personalities perfectly on camera – and now he offers a discounted rate.

Phil Girdlestone dedicates his entire business to his 11-year-old German spitz Millie, after her modelling skilled inspired him to launch a Black Dog Friday promotion.

Phil Girdlestone Photography has been nominated for TeamDogs WeLoveDogs Award, as our sister site TeamDogs – in partnership with PocketVet – search for the best new dog-friendly business in Britain.

You can nominate your best new dog-friendly business on TeamDogs.

To get a behind-the-scenes scoop, TeamDogs spoke to Phil Girdlestone, from Easton, Bristol, about his passion for photography and dogs.

“My interest started at a very young age. I picked up my first camera when I was seven years old. It was plastic, had a 35mm lens and cost me 99p and 99 Bazooka Joe bubble gum wrappers,” he said.

“I have loved photography ever since, but it was only when I started to take pictures of my German spitz Millie that I thought about being a dog photographer.”



Phil Girlderstone captures pets' personalities perfectly
Phil Girlderstone captures pets’ personalities perfectly

In March 2018, Phil signed a lease on a studio in Bristol and began offering studio and location photography sessions.

“My whole business was created and developed with Millie’s help, and if it wasn’t for her, my business would look a lot different,” Phil said.

“Millie is proof that dogs change our lives.”

As well as taking inspiration from his dog, Phil is influenced by pop art, renaissance art and classical paintings – specifically photographs of authors on the inside of books.

A couple of years ago, Phil was experimenting with photographs of Millie when he Googled ‘How to photograph a black dog’.

It was then that he realised how many people struggle to capture their black dogs on camera.



Phil Girdlestone knows the tricks for photographing black dogs
Phil Girdlestone knows the tricks for photographing black dogs

“The contrast of a black dog can make it hard to photograph the texture of their fur,” Phil said.

Automatic camera exposure can make it difficult for texture and fur to appear prominent on a black dog – but there are ways of manipulating the image if you know how.

With the help of his fellow photographers at the Xperience Group of Portrait Photographers, Phil came up with the idea of offering a Black Dog Friday promotion – so that black dogs would be able to get a discounted rate.

Now, for only £20, Phil will photograph your black dog and give you a 10×8” mounted print.

“It’s to help anyone out there that has trouble photographing their pet,” Phil said.

Phil also runs a number of promotions that raise money for charity. Over the years, he has been able to donate more than £7,000 to Holly Hedge Animal Sanctuary in Bristol.



Phil loves capturing goofy dog personalities on camera
Phil loves capturing goofy dog personalities on camera

In lockdown, Phil switched up his style and branched out to street photography. He ran a project called Dogs of the Docks and photographed dogs on Bristol Harbourside.

“It was a lot of fun to do something different,” he said.

When asked what his favourite part of the job is, Phil struggled to answer – because he enjoys the whole process from start to finish.

“One of the most special moments is when you get to see the dog owner’s reaction,” he said.

“Many people have tears in their eyes when they thank me.”

Phil has a talent for capturing the attention of dogs that might usually not sit still.

“I had a woman in the studio yesterday who was really nervous about bringing in her rescue dog. He was a reactive, big dog.

“Using balls and noises, I managed to take some amazing photos. She almost cried afterwards. It’s beautiful when things like that happen.

“A couple of my clients’ dogs have died recently, and they’ve reached out to say how grateful they are for the memories. You really can treasure a portrait forever.”



You can treasure a dog portrait forever
You can treasure a dog portrait forever

Phil says it’s easy to forget how integral our pets are to our everyday lives.

“A dog portrait session takes the time to capture the qualities and characteristics of your pet, and delivers your family a timeless reminder of the special relationship between us and our furry friends.”

If you have a black dog – or any colour, breed and age of dog – Phil would love to photograph their unique personality on camera. You can get in touch via his website Phil Girdlestone Photography .

Don’t forget to nominate your best new dog-friendly business on TeamDogs.

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