Mark Taylor may not have any training as a photographer, but that doesn’t stop him from taking amazing animal photos. From his studio in Southeast England, Taylor has made a big business out of photographing man’s best friends, following in the footsteps of his late mother, Jane Burton. Most of the animals he works with are babies, who are more comfortable in front of the camera than older animals.
Golden and guinea
Here, a 16-week-old golden retriever pup poses for Taylor with a guinea pig. Taylor's assistant works hard to keep the animals interest, using balls, belts and squeaky toys. "Sometimes it's literally a case of her holding an animal in position and whipping her hands away at the last second so I can get a good shot,” Taylor says.
Taylor often gives his subjects props to play with, and when this ginger Maine coon kitten took an interest in the camera lens, Taylor's assistant quickly positioned the other kitten in front of the camera. The challenge was then to get a good shot before the two kittens decided to run off set.
The photographer often chooses which animals to feature together based on their color and how well they get along. "We always test the animals together before we put them in the studio to see how they will get on," says Taylor. Here, it's obvious that this Cavapoo, a spaniel-poodle mix, has no reservations about getting close to his feline partner.
Kittens quickly adjust to life inside the studio, and often find other animals fascinating playmates, says Taylor. However, photographing ducklings can be a real challenge. "They don't stay still for a moment, and run off very quickly," he says. In this shoot, this kitten really took to posing with the duckling, although Taylor isn't so sure the duckling was as keen.
Taylor often uses animals that belonged to friends of his late mother, including this Italian Spinone puppy chewing his tail. Baby animals make ideal subjects, as the older dogs and cats get, the warier they are of spending time in a studio. And his trick for getting this small subject to pose? Dog treats, of course.
Taylor's sister, who works in an animal rescue center, found this baby jackdaw who was in need of a little extra love and attention before being released into the wild. Taylor took the opportunity to photograph him with a black rabbit of nearly the same color. "This hatchling couldn't quite fly yet, otherwise we would never have been able to get it to pose long enough to shoot," says Taylor.
Taylor borrowed this young deer from Taylor's sister's animal rescue center, while the rabbit is one of his star extras. Naturally curious about each other, the two animals came to pose like this with no help from the photographer.
Looking to change up his photos a little, Taylor decided to included a partridge with some of his usual extras. But he remembers that this kitten was not in the mood to pose that day. "Cats tend to be more difficult then dogs because they are more wary. A cat that is frightened can only look frightened," he says.
Like many of the other animals he uses, this bulldog puppy belonged to a breeder who was close with Taylor's mother. "I was just amazed at how full of character the bulldog puppies were," says Taylor. "Guinea pigs also make great subjects because they often sit for a minute or two before feeling the need to skedaddle."
Peter, named by Taylor after the rabbit in Beatrix Potter's books, is a regular in the studio and used to being around all sorts of other animals. Here, he was quite willing to snuggle up to this sleepy tabby-point Birman cat.