Nigel Wallace is an award-winning ‘on location’ dog photographer. The ex-Olympian who has represented team GB in rifle shooting explains how getting his Border Collie puppy eight years ago led him to shooting a camera instead
I started my sporting career at an early age – 14 – and very quickly rose to be part of the British shooting team where I was able to move from the Junior to senior teams and compete internationally right up until 2002 when I retired. During this time, I won multiple English and British championships, breaking numerous British records and travelled the world competing internationally at many European and World championships for Great Britain including the 1992 Olympic games at Barcelona.
I also represented England at three Commonwealth Games – in 1994, 1998 and 2002 – winning four medals including Gold. My family has been so supportive over this time and it’s only by having their support I was able to do this as I was away a lot competing whilst leaving my wife and young children at home for quite some periods of time. I will always be truly grateful for their support for sure.
So how does one go from shooting a rifle to shooting a camera?
I studied photography when I was at school, the good old film days where I spent hours in a dark room developing film. However, when I started to compete at my sport the camera took a back seat because of lack of time. It was when we welcomed our Border Collie puppy eight years ago that I picked up the camera again and was always out taking photos of her thinking ‘what a great job this would be to photograph dogs as a business.’ But, at that time, it wasn’t possible to make that change of business career. However, the opportunity came in 2018 when I left my long-term employer BT and then my dream could be realised: I became a full-time dog photographer, and my business has just grown.
What was it about dog photography that appealed, in particular?
As mentioned, I have a Border Collie called Darcy. She is a sweet dog who just loves life. Capturing her with my camera growing up as a puppy into the dog she is now is what started it all. I have loved dogs all my life and when I was out photographing her it was just pure joy to see her having fun, running, and exploring just loving life. I wanted to be able to capture this with my camera for other people who love their dogs hence the ambition to become a dog photographer. I carry out all my work on location, this means we go out into our beautiful countryside and use the surroundings we have and natural light too.
Dogs love to be outside so I photograph them having fun, running, and jumping, exploring their surrounding and create beautiful images for my clients to treasure always.
When did you start up as a dog photographer and how was everything looking for you at the start of the pandemic?
My business started in March 2019 and very quickly I had people contacting me for photoshoots. Business was growing and people were getting to realise that I am a specialist dog photographer, and they loved my work. Then of course the pandemic arrived, and all work had to stop due to lockdown.
Being a photographer, how have you risen to the challenges of the past two years?
It’s been challenging for sure but in between lockdowns I have been able to keep my photoshoots ongoing – following government guidelines of course. As I am not a studio-based photographer, having all my photoshoots outside in the fresh air means that social distancing (when needed) was never a problem. In fact, over the last two years my business has grown, and I am busier than ever which is just awesome.
Dogs have been a lifeline many of us during the lockdowns. Have you noticed that, through your work?
Yes, I have. I have had the privilege of photographing many dogs that have become part of families during lockdown – and hearing people’s personal stories as to why they invited a dog into their life. Dogs are very therapeutic, I think. They are always happy to see you and they love you unconditionally. Dogs have helped many people through tough times especially over the past couple of years and I get to hear all about this as we carry out my photoshoots when we are walking around the chosen location.
They say never to work with children or animals…any funny moments you can share?
All dogs are different, that is one thing I can categorically say from the hundreds of dogs I have photographed. They all have their unique cheeky characteristics. I remember one time when I was photographing two dogs, whilst photographing the portrait of one dog the other one was sniffing and then peeing on my camera bag – well, when you have to go, you have to go! It’s a hazard of the job but I don’t care – we laughed and carried on. It could have been worse for sure.
Also, when I am laying on the ground I am often mobbed by the dogs as they think I am playing, so they are usually standing on my back or licking me. Again, it’s fun and one of the reasons I love what I do – they accept me and they are having a great time which is what it is all about.
What are your hopes for your business for 2022?
My hopes for 2022 onwards: I would love to continue to spread the word about what I do. I am a kind of unique photographer in terms of what I do, I am a specialist full time dog photographer meaning it’s only dogs I photograph.
For me it’s all about capturing your dog with my camera, creating beautiful images for you to hang on your wall at home and making you smile every time you walk past it. For me that is what my dog photography is all about: photographing awesome dogs and making people smile.
So, my hope for 2022 onwards is to make even more people smile at my images of your beautiful dogs, creating memories and images that will last forever of the day you had a photoshoot with your dog and me.
If you like what you see, then drop me a message. I would love to tell you a bit more about my dog photography and book a shoot with you.