Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Très Occupé

It has been a very busy month, not that I am complaining, I love being on the road with a camera in hand. 

Across the wheat fields to Les Alpilles

We have still been traveling Provence and the Côte d'Azur, we have had the privilege of visiting some spectacular places and meeting some wonderful characters in the process. Hopefully my images will visually show you a taste of Provençal life; but when you close you eyes and imagine the warmth of the air as the soft breeze passes your face, the smell of the freshly cut wheat fields, the buzz of the markets and the deafening but totally relaxing sound of the cicadas, you will then be absorbed by the wonder of Provence.

 Lavender at dawn, Sault

From quaint hilltop villages to more populated seaside towns, at this time of the year the South of France is a hive of activity, it can sometimes be challenging to capture the perfect image through the crowds of tourists; thankfully my patience in photography pays off, not only with photographing animals, but also with waiting for the right time to capture the image.

Three wonderful characters we met while lunching in Grasse

Early morning café, Aix en Provence

The picturesque hilltop village of Gourdon

Mouth watering market produce

Escape from the sun
Crillion le Brave

The vines are vivid amongst the dry landscape

Vintage wine from a cellar of over 50,000 bottles

Early morning calm, Marseille Marina

Château de la Chevre d'Or, Eze

The view from Eze

Sunflowers in Roussillon

Friday, 24 June 2011

An Interview with DOGS Germany.

Choko and Carla, the perfect models

I have just had a visit from Thomas Niederste-Werbeck, the Editor in Chief from DOGS, a wonderful magazine based in Germany. Thomas and photographer, Bettina Lewin, flew from Hamburg, Germany to interview and photograph me while on location in Provence photographing for 'The French Dog' book! The story will be published in the DOGS 5th Anniversary issue due for release in September...... Though it will be published in German, Thomas has promised he will supply an English translation that I will post on the blog!!!

Thomas and Bettina were wonderful to work with and were very understanding when I asked them to head out on foot to the location where I was wanting to shoot, a good 40 minutes walk in the hot afternoon sun!!!

My models for the day were Choko, a 6 year old Chocolate Labrador and Carla, a 4 year old Leonberger. Both were impeccably well behaved, a credit to their loving owner.

Choko on the rocks

Choko & Carla ample along the road

Having photographed the dogs, it was back to Domaine du Bois d'Amont to experience being on the receiving end of the camera, something that Charlize, my 18 month old daughter took in her stride. Charlize proceeded to steel the show and charmed Bettina with gorgeous laughter and smiles..... if I can gain permission, I will post a few of the images Bettina captured at a later date on the blog!

Thomas had a wonderful manner with the interview and I felt really relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed talking to him about the changes in my life, career and the new direction with my work. I was flattered immensely when Thomas told me that my images had been the inspiration for the start of DOGS magazine and that they had been so pleased to finally get to interview me in person after 5 years of publication.....with true respect from both sides I can guarantee this is definitely the start of a great working relationship.

Thank you Thomas and Bettina, it was an honor to have you visit..... See you in October, make sure Sammy practices his smiles!

Charlize fell in love with Carla

Resting in the shade

Just like her Mum, Charlize can't get enough of the Dogs!

A fascination with Noses!

Friday, 27 May 2011

A quick trip home

An image between parked cars that caught my eye

We are back home in the Languedoc for a few days having a brief break from shooting and camping; though it is lovely to be in the comfort of our own home, already we miss Provence and can't wait to head back on Sunday!

I thought I would share a few of the images I have been creating over the past couple of weeks. I would love to hear what you think!

 A mouth watering side dish served at Oustau de Baumaniére

With the clear blue skies, the contrasty light can be challenging to shoot in, but sometimes in works to my advantage.

A detail at Cabro d'Or, Le Baux de Provence

Dining at Cabro d'Or

A typical French Provençal Dish..... Sardines!

Poppies are everywhere at this time of the year

Setting the tables at Le Prieuré, Villeneuve les Avignon

Oustau de Baumaniére, nestled below the rocks of Les Alpilles

A local Baker, Cassis

The Marina at Cassis

What you could have for lunch if you where dining at 
Cabro d'Or

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Marché Paysan - Le Coustellet

Marché Paysan –Le Coustellet

Andy and I have fallen in love with Provence, especially the area that surrounds the Alpilles where we have spent the past two weeks shooting for ‘Lunch in Provence’.
We spent time here last year while photographing for ‘The French Cat’ but this time we are able to experience the true essence and vibrant life that populates the villages during the hours of the day that cats are curled up asleep on their favourite chair or  nestled in the shade of a bush escaping the heat of the Provençal sun.

There are endless quaint little villages, many of which have one day of the week when they are normally quiet, then still streets come alive, with the village market. The stalls are laiden with the local fresh fruit and vegetables, breads, pastries and sweets, wines, meats, and cheeses, and that is just the food produce.  The streets are buzzing, filled with locals and the numerous tourists that have started to swarm Provence now that the temperatures are climbing rapidly towards the mid 30’s.

The famous ‘Mistral’ wind decided to show face on the day we visited Le Coustellet to photograph the ‘Marché Paysan’, the first day in a long time that I wore jeans and a sweatshirt! Though inspired by the beautiful rich fresh products displayed, I captured some great images for ‘Lunch in Provence’, but it was the four legged furry friends behind the scenes that grabbed my attention. Befriending the locals, they were all more than happy for me to create images of their beloved companions.

‘Domino’ a Brittany Spaniel , waiting patiently in the back of his owners van, was adorable, even though he was a little over enthusiastic to meet me, but more than happy to oblige and let me capture his portrait for potential inclusion in ‘The French Dog’.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The new website is LIVE

Great news, is finally up and running. Its been a fun production puting the site together and it is very exciting to see it go live. Salted Herring, the company in Wellington New Zealand that have created the site for us, have been wonderful, I'm thrilled with the end result. They really took note of what we were wanting to achieve with the website and have managed to design a site that I am really proud of. 

Its been a fun and eventful time over the past 4 years since I moved on from working with the Rachael Hale Brand, and its going to be a very productive and exciting future; lots of new projects created in a fresh, different style. Personally I feel that my new projects are giving me the opportunity to create some of my best work yet, and I am really loving the escape from the studio.

The Homepage that will be live next week

Take a look at the website and give us some feedback, we would love to know your thoughts and remember to spread the word that Rachael Hale is now Rachael McKenna.

Thanks for your support

A Bientôt

Rachael x

Monday, 11 April 2011

On Location in the South of France

Babies and animals are always a challenging combination, then I throw in being on location and the challenge doubles…. Hey, but what photographer doesn’t love a challenge, it just makes the end results that much more rewarding.

The location: a beautiful Grand Maison in the village of Lieuran les Beziérs in the South of France….. the subjects: three babies and the photographer’s toddler! Plus; a one year old grey Newfoundland, two 4 week old Bernese Mountain Dog pups and a two year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

The result: a couple of images of Charlize with Lady Gris, the Newfie; all went well until Lady Gris took a step forward and accidentally gave Charlize a scratch on her leg…. Thankfully Charlize is my daughter and a tough nut!!!

Charlize & Lady Gris

A gorgeous photograph of Bertie, who refused to be with any of the animals but still managed to bring out the smiles…..

Lily, an 11 month old little French baby, was adorable, and posed perfectly with the Bernese Puppy, the Bernese actually proved to be the challenge, continuously trying to take a flying leap off the chair…. Thankfully I always have plenty of hands at the ready to catch any wobbly baby or active animal!

Lily with one of the Bernese Puppies

We ended the shoot with 7 month old Rafael and his Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Eléna…. Rafael was a real little character, smiling and laughing for every photograph taken, while Elena sat back unbemused by the situation, wishing she was somewhere else!

Rafael & Eléna

The French Cat

I had two dreams when I was a child, to be a National Geographic Photographer and to study film at the New York School of Visual Arts (SVA)…. So far I haven’t managed to achieve either of these dreams but there have been many stepping stones I have taken during my career that have given me just as much satisfaction and achievement as I would have if I had ventured down the path I had dreamed of at the grand age of 8 years!

I have to say, the latest assignment I have just completed, ‘The French Cat’ has been the most exciting and inspirational of my career so far, and probably has got me the closest to my dream of being a National Geographic Photographer as I’m possibly going to get!!! As much as I have loved working in studio type environments over the years creating my character portraits of animals and babies, it was the thrill of working with animals in their natural environment that has given me a new lease of life in my field. Travelling a hypnotically beautiful country with my adorable husband and daughter in tow has been an amazing experience; everyday I stepped out into an inspirational environment, there was not a corner I turned that didn’t frame a beautiful setting, and spending hours wandering, on the prowl for cats was a dream job for any animal and photography lover!

Some of the cats I photographed were residents of historic character filled French Châteaux, others were cats I befriended whilst roaming the ancient villages and country side; each one a true character, intrigued by the green feathers on a stick that constantly were drawn in and out of my back pocket, if they weren’t being held at the ready by my enthusiastic rapidly growing daughter. The biggest challenges I would say would have to have been the numerous times I had to practice my ‘tres mal’ French when asking the owners permission to photograph their cat…. I can actually string a few sentences together now though, so I think I have progressed from pigeon French to somewhere just above the basic level! Thankfully cats have a universal language, as long as I am calm, gentle and softly spoken, if I manage to get within a few feet of them, most cats tend to be putty in my hands after a few minutes. A lot of French cats are ‘trés timide’ and required a lot more patience on my part to be able to create the images I was wanting to illustrate the book, luckily, when it comes to my photography, patience seems to be something that I have a continuous supply of.

‘The French Cat’ is being released worldwide in October this year; along with being a collection of the images I have created of the endearing French felines I encountered during our 6 month journey, it also tells the story of our move to France and our experience discovering the beauty of our French surroundings.

Photographing at Montmartre Cimetére, Paris

Photographing in Pérouges, Rhône-Alpes

Andy and Charlize working the cat

Photographing at Château de Saint Loup, Saint Loup Lamairé, Poitou-Charentes

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Let's get started

There are not many people that know at the age of 8 what the want to be when they ‘grow up’. I am one of those lucky ones, I found my passion the day my grandparents first let me step into their darkroom, I remember watching with amazement as the image slowly appeared on the paper as my Grandfather gently rocked the tray holding the developing solution, I was fixed!

Over the years I have been humbled by the number of people that write to me or tell me how much they love the images I create; I love to create them, there is nothing more rewarding than to know that one or two of my images has put a smile on someone’s face.

I am always striving to improve, I pray for the day I will be good enough to be viewed in the same light as the master photographers that have inspired me through my photographic journey. It is hard to believe that I have been photographing professionally now for over 16 years, I still feel and see myself as a young photographer just starting out, still learning, it constantly amazes me when I see my books on the shelf in Barnes and Nobles on 5th Avenue in New York or when I receive a photograph from a friend of my books on display in the window of a small shop in the back streets of Prague. To take a passion and develop it into a career is a wonderful achievement; it hasn’t always been easy but I can say that my life is very special, I am extremely lucky to be able to make a living creating images.

I hope this blog will give you an insight into my life as a photographer, show you a little behind the scenes. Please write to me, ask me questions, and share in my experiences.

A Bientôt