Composed Images offers a range of Cardiff dog photography services, including pet portraits and location shoots. Professional images can be taken on locations in the natural territory of pets, with or without their owners. These can then be reproduced in framed prints, photobooks, canvases and a range of other products, and kept forever. If needed, we can help to create and produce these items using third party suppliers.
Composed Images is essentially Mark Hawkins, a dog lover and owner of a Fox Red Labrador named Talisker. He will try to get to know dogs (or any other pets) before getting out a camera or any equipment and beginning to take photographs.
As a testament to Mark’s life-long love of dogs, below are some heartfelt words all about it, written some time in 2016…
I wanted a dog for pretty much my whole adult life. But living in a long series of rented properties made it impossible, until now.
Horrible stuff out of the way first. When you commit to dog ownership you must have your eyes wide open to a nasty big fact. You are highly likely to outlive them and when they die it will break your heart. Losing our first family dog remains my heaviest experience of grief, for which I should probably be grateful. I am no plucky orphan or tragic warchild. There were just six weeks in age between me and our family’s first Labrador, Raffles. We were 13 when he died and, never knowing life without him, I vividly remember struggling to process the grief for a time. It felt as big as anything could. I can’t hear a song from REM album ‘New Adventures In Hi-Fi’ without teleporting myself back to my bedroom, sobbing uncontrollably over the window-sill while staring at the corner patch of the back garden where we buried him.
And this was after a life well-lived. Imagine, as I have lately, if something were to happen well before their time: an accident, illness, a loss, even a theft. Unthinkable.
A few months ago during one of my many solo circuits around our then inner Cardiff neighbourhood of Atlantic Wharf, an older medium-sized dog approached. It was trailed by an older gentleman wearing a hi-vis jacket. The dog was some distance away at first but broke into a light trot when it saw me, wagging its tail in recognition. I smiled in return, easily charmed by a friendly dog. We met, still some distance away from the man walking him and I gave it a scratch and stroke. Its coat was aged, matted, slightly sticky. “Oh, thank you so much,” the man earnestly said, catching up with us. “She really likes that. She’s been very lonely lately.” I smiled and wondered why she was lonely. Was its owner away, in hospital, dead? I wish I’d asked the man more but I didn’t. I just said it was fine, and walked on.
In a quirky comic novel I read lately by Miranda July, the narrator was an eccentric middle-aged lady. She believed that every baby who appears to look at her in a certain way is one and the same spirit, with whom she shares a special connection. This soul is named Kubelko Bondy and she imagines a telepathic dialogue between them. (This is amusing and I don’t do it justice).
It’s sort of similar for me with dogs. It felt like that with the old lonely dog, and plenty I stroke or see in passing. In fact I’m more likely to say hello to a dog than its owner. As a kid I wondered if dogs were ‘my people’ more than actual people were my people. Words and talking gets so boring. It’s so easy to feel marginalised by being wrong or uncool or weird or unfunny. After a while, the constant blah blah drone of speech can feel exhausting and pointless. Our dog Raffles was a kind of meditative antithesis to my relentlessly blaring broadcasting brother.
Dogs are usually quiet, peaceable. They can appear more contemplative, generally uncomplicated and sincerely pleased to see you. Documentary maker Louis Theroux has a theory that they see us as we like to see ourselves.
It’s liberating to see life like a happy dog. When young, their urgent hungry appetite for newness: smells, sights, sensations — it’s infectious. You can’t help but feel it through them and smile and laugh. It can be brilliant for the soul, especially if much in the world appears generally bleak. And right now it does. Grown-up worries about business or money can instantly evaporate because dogs simply do not care.
‘Throw it throw it throw it throw it. Go on go on go on.
Yaaaayyyy BAAALLLLLL!!! Whereisit? Whereditgo? Whereisit?’
Feeling free to go a little crazy can help keep you sane. I imagine it’s like how children are supposed to keep you young and in touch with your inner child. There’s refreshment in disassociating from a stressful world and stressful times. Being able to sink down to your knees, growl and square up to your dog before engaging in a playfight: it’s mindless dumb fun. You can feel lighter and briefly forget everything.
Dogs can also be incredibly therapeutic when calm. This is well celebrated through their use in care homes and hospices, and with people suffering post-traumatic stress. Dogs relax humans.
In owning one they can offer us routine and a sense duty, a sense of responsibility, even a sense of parenthood, and with it considerable reward. Having one asleep in the corner of a room, the knowledge of another living heartbeat in your house, for me the idea is comforting, relaxing and homely — providing they’re not defecating everywhere and chewing everything to pieces. It’s a basic form of companionship humans have enjoyed for centuries.
This is what I’ve always wanted to experience first-hand and permanently, or as permanently as possible. And it’s because we finally have somewhere we can call Home that this can finally happen. We can have a dog to help create a home. We also have parks and woodland and walks nearby, as well as a dog-friendly suburbia.
There are all sorts of nerves and concerns. It feels soon, almost too soon, as we’ve only been living here for a few weeks. But if you’re set on getting a puppy, why spend ages making a house look nice before introducing it? Why not just get on with it?
We collected her from a farmhouse in West Wales on Tuesday. Her Mum’s attentive goodbye as she leaned into our car one last time demolished me into pathetic emotional rubble. Our road ahead is long and tough and littered in turds, destruction, disobedience, frustration and angst. But also pleasure, smiles, laughter and levity. Together with my awesome wife, we are up for all of it.
Welcome to Talisker. May you live long and well as part of our family.