Star Paws

Specialist photography service for pets who deserve the very best!

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Star Paws Pet Photography

Great review of Star Paws, thanks so much!

Wet Nose & Furry Toes

I first came across Star Paws Pet Photography when a local pet boutique was advertising a mini photo shoot for a 2015 calender.

I’d managed to get in with a cancelation and was so pleased.

I spruced Chester up.. bathed, brushed, pampered him all ready to take down to get his photo taken, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, I thought Chester would play up and the photo’s would be no good.


When me and Chester walked into the room and met Sue I knew instantly that he was going to be ok.

She was so lovely and fussed Chester, gave him lots of attention (as he loves) and treats to get him to do as he was told.

I ordered 3 of the prints from her website and went to pick them up, and I absolutely loved them!!
Chester also seemed pleased with them too..

I had a…

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Puparazzi Charity Calendar Shoot

There’s a wonderful pet store in Stockton on Tees called Wags & Whiskers Pet Boutique. The owner, Carl, contacted me a while ago and asked if I’d like to be involved in a new project of his, with the aim of raising money for Dogs Trust Darlington.

As Star Paws is a great supporter of many pet and animal welfare charities, I was keen to find out more!

Carl’s plan was to produce a calendar starring some of the gorgeous dogs who bring their owners to Wags & Whiskers, and for the proceeds of all calendar sales to go to Dogs Trust.

All he needed was a willing pet photographer – which, of course, is where I came in 🙂

Little did Carl and I know at the planning stage that we would have over 30 dogs booking in to take part in the Puparazzi Charity Calendar sessions!

A few dogs were a little shy, and some a tad nervous, until they realised that they got yummy treats in exchange for posing for the camera! I think most of them also had treats or toys bought for them by their mums and dads in the boutique for being so good, and of course they all got lots of fuss and cuddles from me (a perk of the job!).

Star Paws Pet Portraits

Some of the gorgeous Puparazzi Pups ©Star Paws 2014

We had a great variety of dogs take part in the sessions – large and small, young and old, and even a few uber-cute bundles of puppy fluffiness like 18 week old Toby in the centre frame above ❤

One thing all the dogs had in common was lovely owners, who clearly adore them. That’s another great thing about doing what I do – I get to meet people who are as crazy about their dogs as I am about our Millie and Mabel 😉

Star Paws Pet Photography

More of the beautiful Puparazzi pooches ©Star Paws 2014

That was one very busy day for me, with appointments scheduled every 15 minutes from 11am to 430pm, and then of course hundreds of photographs to sift through, process and retouch over the following days to remove all traces of leads, owners or hairs on the backdrop!

Obviously, there aren’t 30+ months in the year, so the owners’ favourite pics have been uploaded to Facebook, and the 12 dogs with the most ‘Likes’ by the 29th September will go on to feature in the finished calendar.

The dog with the most Likes overall will receive a Gift Voucher to spend in store, and all who star in the calendar will receive their own copy – which will no doubt take pride of place in their homes!

Please do go and take a look at the photos entered into the competition, and cast your vote by giving your favourites a ‘Like’.

Do let me know in the Comments which competition pic is your favourite – I’d really love to know!

Until next time,



Time to celebrate (and time for a competition!)

I can’t quite believe it, but Star Paws has just turned 5 years old!

Star Paws 5

Sometimes it feels like I’ve been operating as professional pet photographer for a lifetime, but I remember all the details of the very first official Star Paws pet photo shoot so clearly that it seems impossible that it took place so long ago.

Even though I had lots of experience of unpaid photography work, I was so nervous on the morning of that first shoot – checking and double checking my equipment, batteries, memory cards, all the lighting kit, the address, how long it was going to take me to get there… then checking it all over again!

I needn’t have worried about anything though, the lady who booked the shoot was lovely, and her dog, Gypsy, so sweet and gentle. I really couldn’t have asked for a better first session.

Black and white dog portrait: Gypsy by Star Paws

Beautiful Gypsy, first official Star Paws client back in 2009. Sadly no longer with us, but always remembered.

It certainly hasn’t been an easy five years, running a small business such as this in what for many people have been pretty tough financial times. However, that’s all the more reason to celebrate the fact that Star Paws has kept on growing every year, and I still get to do something I love every single day.

So, to celebrate our FIFTH anniversary I’ve decided to give away FIVE pet photo shoots with Star Paws*, and I’m even throwing in FIVE digital images with each session, so you can share your pet’s uber-cuteness on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever your social media platform of choice is!

To be in with a chance to win, all you have to do is send an email to and tell me the names of my three pets. No, I haven’t forgotten them, I’m just trying to make you work for your prize 😉

HINT: If you follow Star Paws on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Instagram you’ll be able to find the answers quite easily, or just check out the website.

Entries will close at midnight on Thursday 28th August.

FIVE winners will be chosen at random from all correct entries.

Please note: entries will only be accepted by email to – I’ll be promoting this giveaway across a range of sites, so limiting the means of entry is the best way for me to keep up and make sure no one’s entry is missed by accident!

Good luck!

Until next time,


*To be eligible for a complimentary photo shoot, the session must take place within 20 miles of my base near Consett, County Durham. If a prize winner’s preferred shoot location is outside this range, a mileage fee may be applicable. This would of course be discussed and agreed beforehand.

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So, what do you photograph? (Part 2)

Last week I told you all about the pets and animals I’m asked to photograph most often, so this week it’s the turn of the more unusual Star Paws stars!


One of the perks of being a member of a professional photographers’ society is that we occasionally get to shoot in some unusual locations, or get privileged access to venues that would not normally be available.

That’s exactly what happened when I and a group of fellow photographers from the Society of Wedding & Portrait Photographers (SWPP) got to shoot ‘up close and personal’ with some of the wonderful animals at Flamingoland a couple of years ago. We roamed around when the zoo was closed to the public, and the keepers even took us into several of the enclosures so we could get really close to animals like lemurs and penguins – two of my favourites!

Star Paws penguin and lemur images

Some shots of the fabulous lemurs and penguins at Flamingoland © Star Paws

We spent a full day at the zoo, and saw a fantastic range of animals from rabbits, turkeys and goats to tigers, giraffes, hippos and rhinos – and lots more in between!

As you can imagine, I took hundreds of photos that day…

Star Paws animal portraits

Just a few of the animals I had the privilege of photographing at Flamingoland © Star Paws

I had real problems, however, as soon as we went in to the main aviary. Everyone else was busy photographing the colourful parrots, macaws and cockatoos, but one particular chirpy little chap singled me out for attention within seconds of me entering the aviary, and refused to leave my side – or rather my head, shoulder, or camera! Of course I loved every minute of it!

Animals (and obviously birds!) do seem to feel quite comfortable around me, which is a great bonus for a pet photographer. John Denton, Master Photographer and Fellow of the SWPP was leading groups at Flamingoland over two days, and was quite taken aback at just how much the various animals took to me. So much so, that he included the following in an article he wrote for Professional Imagemaker magazine:

“The next day we moved to the other side of the park. Having had such a wonderful day in the Theme Park I felt it was going to be difficult to trump it. That was until we entered the zoo and Sue Lax appeared on the scene. Sue is a pet photographer by trade and wow, does she have a natural affinity for her trade. The critters loved her. To the extent that she couldn’t take pictures at times, such was the affection of Django the Australian Galah.”

John went on to say:

“Next it was the lemurs, and once again the star turn wasn’t the animals themselves but how they expressed their undying love for Sue.”

Animals love Star Paws

Animals really do seem to love Star Paws Sue! © Denton Photography

As I’m sure you’ve already guessed, that day at Flamingoland is one I’m not going to forget in a hurry! I loved it, and would jump at the chance to go back and do it all again.

Commercial photography

I’ve taken photos of some unusual animals for other businesses, such as the fabulous Scales n Tales Animal Encounters, who provide animal parties, education and pet therapy sessions all over the north east.

I wanted to work with some unusual critters, and the lovely Vikki from Scales n Tails was happy to let me play with some of her amazing gang for a couple of hours in exchange for some photos to use on her website. It was especially exciting as Vikki had just taken three baby meerkats into her care – what great timing, eh?

The images shown below are of one of the little meerkats (I’m afraid I’m not sure whether it’s Timon, Nala or Bandit!), Sherman the Hermann Tortoise, Neville the Pygmy hedgehog, Priscilla the African bullfrog, Tequila the Mexican Red Knee Tarantula, and my favourite of all, Gloria the skinny pig! I’d never met a skinny pig before, and completely fell for Gloria, she’s just adorable.

Scales n Tails images

Some of the Scales n Tails Animal Encounters gang © Star Paws

I’ll be going back soon to photograph more of gang, so watch this space for more of the fabulous Scales n Tails critters.

Private Commissions

I’ve photographed a few exotic pets for private owners, and would absolutely love to do more.

The very handsome iguana at the top of the page is one of my favourites, but the most unusual exotics I’ve photographed on a private basis are probably sugar gliders.

Sugar gliders are nocturnal animals, so photographing them was quite a challenge as I had to wait until after dark for them to wake up and start their day!

They’re absolutely fascinating creatures – and very fast moving when they choose to be!

Exotic pet photo shoots by Star Paws

Super speedy sugar gliders! © Star Paws

I really enjoyed meeting and finding out more about sugar gliders, and got some images that their owners absolutely loved.

Do you have any unusual pets? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear about them!

If you’d like to book a photoshoot for your pet (whether they’re of the unusual or more familiar kind!) just contact me here, via the website, Facebook or email and I’ll tell you everything you need to know!

Until next time,



So, what do you photograph?

People usually say one of two things to me when they find out I’m a professional pet photographer. “Don’t they say you should never work with children or animals?” is one of them, and “You must have the patience of a saint!” is another!

The most frequently asked questions are probably “What do you photograph the most?” and “What’s the most unusual animal you’ve ever photographed?”

Thinking about all the pet photo shoots I’ve been commissioned to carry out since Star Paws first came into being way back in 2009, it’s safe to say that the majority have been for dogs.

Dogs are such a big part of the family, often accompanying their humans to all kinds of events, visiting friends and family, going on holidays and so on, so it seems quite natural for many dog owners to extend the already familiar concept of a family photo shoot to a pet photo shoot for their furry best friend.

Star Paws Dog Portraits

Popular dog portraits by Star Paws, outdoors on location or studio style in your home.

The second most popular type of pet Star Paws has photographed would be the cat. Again, very much a part of the family, but often somewhat more independent than their canine counterparts. I wonder if this might be why, despite there being almost as many pet cats as dogs in the UK, I photograph fewer cats than dogs? Perhaps owners think their cats ‘wouldn’t co-operate’, ‘wouldn’t sit still’, or maybe they’re shy around strangers.

The good news for cat owners though, is that feline photo shoots with Star Paws are done very much on the cat’s own terms. As any cat owner knows, trying to get a kitty to do something she doesn’t really want to do just isn’t going to work! I tend to just let cats do their own thing, following them around the house or garden – at a distance if necessary – and take beautiful, unposed shots as the perfect moment naturally arises.

Star Paws cat portraits

I love cat photo shoots – they can be a challenge, but I don’t have a problem with that!

Next on the list would be horses, then rabbits and other small furries.

Equine photo shoots are becoming increasingly popular. Many owners who compete with their horses will already own photos that have been taken by a professional event photographer, but Star Paws can provide a more bespoke and individual service. This might include a variety of locations, and a much broader range of images, including some that demonstrate the bond between horse and owner.

Equine photography by Star Paws

Classic portraits such as these are always popular.

So, those are the animals I photograph most often. Can you guess what the most unusual ones are? Is your pet one of them? Come back to the blog next week and I’ll reveal all!

Until next time,



10 Top Tips for Photographing Your Pet

This week I thought I’d share some tips to help you take better photos of your pets for yourself. After all, you can’t always have a professional pet photographer on hand to capture all those moments of extreme pet cuteness, can you? Oh wait, I guess you could… my rates are negotiable for 24 hour cover 😉

But seriously, if you’re anything like me, I’m sure you’re forever snapping away with your mobile phone every time your pet gives you that adorable look, or falls asleep with her tongue out, or races round the garden like a total fruit loop! Our pets mean the world to us, don’t they? I wasn’t at all surprised to read that a nationwide survey showed that we take more photos of our pets than we do of our partners!

So, without further ado, here are my top tips. They can be applied no matter what kind of camera you have, from mobile phone to high end DSLR, because the good news is, you really don’t need expensive equipment to take a great photo! In fact, just to prove the point, all of the photos I’ve used here are of my own pets, and were snapped with the camera on my mobile phone.

1. Capture your pet’s personality

Think about the sort of pictures that will best reflect your pet as you see them. Is he a lazy bones whose favourite pastime is curling up in bed for a snooze? Is she a Tasmanian devil who never sits still? Are there favourite toys or places that they love? You’ll want to catch them at their happiest, so really give this some thought. It’s a sad fact of life that our pets can’t be with us forever, and the time will come when any images we have of them will be priceless, especially those that remind us exactly what they were like.

Pet portrait, Star Paws Mabel

Our youngest Bedlington Terrier, Mabel, in typical ‘lookout’ pose on a walk.

2. Slowly, slowly…

Some pets are more camera shy than others, so let them get used to the phone or camera first. If you’re using a camera, or if your phone makes a noise when you take a shot, point it away from them and fire the shutter a few times first, just so they get used to the sound. If your pet seems nervous, encourage them to come to you and check the camera out before you start pointing it at them, which can be quite intimidating to some pets.

3. Check the background (then check it again!)

Many otherwise great shots can be spoiled by distracting elements in the background. We’ve all seen pictures where people seem to have trees or lamp posts growing out of their heads, so look out for things like that when you’re setting up your shot! Also, if there’s a lot of clutter in the background – like the ironing pile or that stack of magazines you were looking through – either move it or, if that’s not possible, change your angle or position so that it’s out of shot.

4. Get down – and possibly dirty!

Be prepared to get down to your pet’s level and see the world from their perspective. Take photos from different levels and angles – they’ll be far more interesting than those taken from our usual view of the world. As a pet photographer I spend an awful lot of time crawling around on the floor, lying face down in fields or sloshing about in water to get the best shots!

Mobile phone pet portraits

Shoot from different levels, not just from the usual human perspective of the world! Mobile phone images.

5. Indoor photography

Try to avoid using the flash – it can be scary for some pets, but it’s also a harsh light and can give your pet those spooky looking eyes, similar to the red-eye effect in humans. You’ll need to use natural light to get the best indoor shots, so use a room with large windows and/or open a door to let more light in, if it’s safe to do so.

Natural light indoor pet portrait

Bessie fast asleep (her favourite activity!)

6. Outdoor photography

Bright sunshine often doesn’t make for the best photos – dark shadows and squinting pets aren’t a great combination! Bright but slightly overcast days are far preferable, as the light is softer. If it is sunny, try shooting early in the morning or late afternoon, avoiding the midday sun, or just move your pet to a shady area. Keep the sun behind you but off to one side so your pet doesn’t have to squint when they look at you.

Outdoor pet portrait avoiding midday sun

Millie trying to decide which direction to run in next!

7. Get to know your camera

Familiarise yourself with your camera’s settings. Even the camera on your mobile is likely to have settings you can change according to the situation or the type of picture you want to take: Portrait, Sports/Action, Indoor/Low Light and so on. Read the manual, or if you’re not a manual reading type of guy or gal, then just experiment a little – you might be surprised by the results!

8. Get your pet’s attention

There are several ways to get a pet’s attention focused on you for the shot – commands, trigger words or phrases, squeaky toys, funny noises and treats can all work, and you’ll know what’s likely to succeed with your pet. Be careful with treats though. Some dogs, for example, become so treat obsessed that you’ll end up with that glazed “Gimme the treat! Gimme the treat!” expression, which is fine if that’s the look you’re going for, but may not be ideal in all cases!

9. Focus

You’ll usually want to focus on your pet’s eyes and get them really sharp in a portrait style shot. They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and I believe that’s as true of pets as it is of people.

However, you can also create some great images by getting in close or zooming in on the details – paws, noses, whiskers, ears, fur, feathers, or whatever they may be!

Pet portrait detail shots

Detail shots of Millie and Mabel. Mobile phone images.

10. Take lots of pictures

Remember to experiment and take lots of different pictures, but make sure your pet is happy and comfortable at all times while you’re doing so. Never, ever get cross with them if they don’t do what you want today – you can always try again tomorrow, or try something completely different!

11. (Yep, I know, I said 10 tips but this is actually the most important one!)

Be patient, and have fun with your pet 🙂


I hope this week’s blog has inspired you to try taking some different kinds of shots of your pet, and to really think about what it is that you’d like to capture about them.

Please do let me know in the comments if you’ve found these tips useful, and come back and tell me when you’ve taken some great shots!

Until next time,



A Hair-raising Week

Pheweeee, how are you all coping with this heat? We’re in the north east of England, so we’re not getting quite as hot as some areas of the country, but it’s hot enough for me 😉

Of course, it’s hot for all our pets too – how are yours coping? Have you got any good tips for keeping them cool? Leave a comment for me and let me know!

Turning the tables

It’s been a busy week at Star Paws HQ, but I did find the time to do something I’ve been putting off for ages, which is to have my own photo shoot! I needed some photos of myself for the website so that people can put a face to the ‘Star Paws’ name, but I also wanted to get some shots of me with our dogs, Millie and Mabel.

I read a sad but wonderful blog recently, which really brought home to me the importance of having photos taken not just of your pet, but with your pet. I’m sure you can imagine that, as a pet photographer, I’ve got lots of beautiful photos of my girls. In common with many photographers though, I absolutely hate having my photo taken, so I don’t really have any pictures of me with my much loved ‘babies’.

Until now!

I enlisted the help of my good friend and fellow north east photographer Sarah Loveland, and we had a lot of fun down by the river with Millie and Mabel.

Star Paws Sue with her dogs

Mabel, Millie and me! © Sarah Loveland Photography

Sarah managed somehow to put me at ease, and took some lovely natural shots of us all.

Star Paws Millie

Me with my little princess, Millie © Sarah Loveland Photography

At a Star Paws pet photo shoot, I usually ask owners if they’d like to have some shots taken together with their pets, but so many refuse – just as I would have done in the past. After reading that blog, and now having some lovely photos together with my girls, you can be sure I’m going to be strongly recommending it in future! It’s a horribly sad fact of life that our pets aren’t with us on this earth for long, and I know that I’ll always treasure these photos that show the bond between us.

My little tomboy, Mabel - more interested in going to play than in having a cuddle here!

My little tomboy, Mabel – more interested in going to play than in having a cuddle here! © Sarah Loveland Photography

If this has made you think, why not get in touch and arrange a photo shoot for you and your pet now?

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow…

Another reason I wanted my own photo shoot to take place over the past week, is that as of today, I don’t have any hair.

Yes, you read that right!

Star Paws does a lot of work with and for animal charities, but one particular human charity is also close to my heart, and that’s Macmillan Cancer Support. We’ve hosted Macmillan Coffee Mornings to raise money in the past, but when I heard about the Shave or Style campaign, I thought it was such a great idea that I had to get involved.

Shave or Style gives you two options, as the name suggests – you can either be sponsored to shave your head, or just give yourself a re-style and donate to Macmillan. As my hair is fairly short anyway, I can’t really re-style it, so shaving is the only way for me to go!

Here’s a link to my Shave or Style page, where you can see a little video of the shave, as well as the ‘after’ photo! You can click on the big green Donate button too if you’re inclined – it would be greatly appreciated, but you’re very welcome to just check out the page and laugh at me too 😉

Shave or Style for Macmillan

Before, during and after! I rather like the ‘during’ style 😉

Until next time,



What’s all this then?

Hello big wide blog world, Sue from Star Paws here!

This is my first ever blog. To say that I don’t really know what I’m doing yet would be an understatement, so please do bear with me…

The good news is, I do really know what I’m doing when it comes to pet photography – and that’s what Star Paws is all about!

Star Paws pet portraits

Founded in 2009, Star Paws has always specialised in pet photography and always will. I firmly believe that if you want to excel at something, you have to dedicate 100% of your time and attention to it, which is why you won’t see me offering to photograph your wedding, or your (human) children, or your birthday bash. (I do photograph pet birthday parties though – contact me for details!)

You can read more about Star Paws on the website, and of course you can also find, follow and like us on Twitter and Facebook too.

If you follow this blog – and I really hope you do! – you can expect to see lots of cute pics of all kinds of pets from dogs and cats to snakes and tortoises, and everything in between. I’ll also be posting hints and tips, details of special promotions, competitions, links to pet friendly places, and a host of other good stuff that you really won’t want to miss!

Is there anything in particular you’d like to see on the Star Paws blog? Let me know in the comments below….

Until next time,