Who let the dogs out: BTS on our shoot for Harringtons
Harringtons wanted to resonate with a new breed of pet parents. So, we created an emotional connection between owner and animal through emotive imagery that captures their natural and characterful nature.
We caught up with Design Director Steph to learn what exactly goes into planning a shoot like this and why ownable photography really is a brand’s best friend.
First up, what was your vision for the new Harringtons photography?
Harringtons was already an incredibly successful brand – but their design was lacking a bit of life and emotion. A lot of the photography looked quite staged and they’d used a lot of similar looking breeds which made the products difficult to differentiate.
With the new photography, we wanted to showcase happy and healthy dogs of all breeds and capture each pet’s personality through the eyes of their owner. It was about breaking away from the ‘Hunter wellies’ kind of aesthetic and making the brand relatable to a much broader audience by celebrating the everyday dog and all its loveable quirks.
What made you want to use original photography for the project instead of stock images?
Shooting your own photography is the only way to make sure the images are super ownable to the brand. You have full control over every aspect – the models, the poses, the expressions – and can easily make sure everything created is consistent with the style you’re after. It’s almost impossible to replicate that kind of consistency with stock.
The welfare of the animals was also really important. With stock images you have no idea where the animals come from or how they’re being treated. By doing our own shoot we could make sure all the dogs and cats were happy, healthy and well looked after.
As you said, shoots like this must take a lot of preparation. What was on your to-do list?
It was a lengthy process! The first (and most important) job was to find the perfect photographer. We chose an incredible guy, Steve Hoskins, who specialises in animal photography and helped us massively in casting and directing the ‘models’.
We had a list of the best breeds to use for each of the products and life stages. And then every animal we chose needed an understudy so we could regularly switch them out. This was really important in making sure the animals didn’t get too tired or stressed under the bright studio lights.
Once we had our models, then we reviewed them all together to make sure they would work as a full range and that we had enough differentiation when it came to colour, coat and size.
So then once you’ve got all the shots you need, what happens next?
We worked closely with the Harringtons team to make our selects from literally thousands of images – we were shooting so fast! We took a pack template with us on set so we knew exactly what kind of shot we needed (looking directly at the camera, a little head tilt or tongue sticking out). It was all about showing off the energy and personality of each animal.
They say never work with children or animals. Were there any challenging moments or things that didn’t quite go to plan on the day? And how did you get around them?
Animals have a mind of their own! So no matter how much you plan, you never really know how it’ll go on the day. We had a dog who wouldn’t stop chasing his tail, a kitten who wouldn’t fall asleep, and for safety reasons we had to sanitise the set after every animal – so there was a lot of stopping and starting.
Luckily Steve was an absolute pro and was great at getting the animals’ attention. He would bribe them with squeaky toys and treats when they wouldn’t play ball and had us all in stitches with his funny animal noises.
Spending almost a week with lots of puppies and kittens sounds like a dream day at work. What were your highlights from the shoot?
I've never been much of a cat person but I absolutely fell in love with them on this shoot. As a relatively new pet owner, I've not grown up around that many animals. So interacting with all these different breeds and seeing all their different mannerisms was so interesting.
We had a dachshund there as well, just like mine. So that was great because, as it was a four-day shoot, I was away from home and missing him!
Some of the pet owners came along to the shoot too and it was great to see how proud they were of their pet. The owner of our lead dog, Beasley, has since been into the shop and taken pictures of the new packs to post on Instagram which is lovely to see.