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Ellie Grace Photography Pet Portraits

In these times of turmoil, Ellie Grace’s pet portraits are the slice of joy we all need.

As the landscape continues to shift for the wedding industry, photographer Ellie Grace has moved in new directions and has become a regular fixture on our Insta feed with her doorstep photoshoots, outdoorsy shots of the Peaks, and now her pet portraits. We chatted to Ellie to find out more.

Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and how you spent your working days before the pandemic.

Hello! My name is Ellie and I am a photographer in Sheffield who predominantly does weddings. Before the pandemic, I would have been raring up for a wedding season of roughly 30–35 weddings, which would have been spread out from March to October so that I could have the occasional weekend off and go away myself during these months. I have a studio based in town so I do all my editing, admin and meetings there, and then the weddings are spread out over various venues and locations within Sheffield and the Peak District.

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Your doorstep portraits were a real hit during the first lockdown. How have you commemorated that strange time?

The Doorstep Portrait project was definitely an excellent way to save my mental health in the first lockdown. I'm not sure how I would have coped going from getting ready for a busy season to doing absolutely nothing. It was really fun getting out and about with my dog Luther, exploring and meeting new people. When the six-week lockdown ended, I also ended the project and then collaborated with Studio AW-AR who made a book of the portraits, which is available to buy here. It serves as a permanent reminder of the first lockdown, which was scary, strange and exciting. I'm not sure I would use the word exciting for this third one but it's nice to have a keepsake to look back on the first.

The ongoing pandemic has sparked a significant change of direction for your photography. Tell us about this change.

Wedding-wise, I've had to adapt to cater for much smaller weddings. I worked hard over the summer to keep busy and to keep my current clients happy with any changes they needed to make. I also made sure new clients knew where I was and that I was still working. I managed to shoot 19 weddings from July to November when weddings were actually allowed, even though the rules and number of guests constantly changed. But that's still a large handful of weddings that happened!

Unfortunately, it's not enough so I've had to adapt in more ways and do a lot more product and food photography, which is fun but not something I want to do forever. That brought me to my pet portraits! I have the biggest poser for a dog so getting the practice in was easy, and there are five dogs in my studio so models were not hard to come by.

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As a cat owner, I was excited to see your recent Instagram posts about your experimentation with cat portraits. Do you plan to make them a permanent fixture?

Ah, the cats! Cat portraits are definitely a lot harder than dogs but absolutely possible. I think it might be easier to shoot cats in their natural environment, which is one of the options for pet portraits, but it's also possible to get them against a regal looking backdrop. Even though I am a dog person, I understand how important cats are too. When weddings come back in full swing I imagine I'll be the busiest I've ever been but there will always be room for pet portraits.

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And finally, what can folks and their pets expect at one of your photoshoots?

You have three options for a pet portrait: you can either come to my studio and we set up with a backdrop and lighting, I can come to yours and catch them in their natural environment, or we can meet outside in the woods or the Peaks if you want more outdoorsy, natural shots. It's only a short session, roughly 20-30 minutes, as pets don't have much patience, but you get a small handful of images that I fully encourage you to print and show off.

by Felicity Jackson (she/her)
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