By Sue Bird
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but even that substantial literary quota seems inadequate to describe the beauty that lies in Sue Bird’s photography, because she brings something entirely new to the realm of pet portraiture.

Based in Stittsville, Ontario, Sue puts 10 years of photojournalism experience to work for her furry photo subjects. The result? Spectacular editorialized pet portraiture that is moving, artistic and above all, real. Sue’s exquisite animal lifestyle photography has frequented the cover of Dogs in Canada Annual on several occasions and earned her many awards, as well as the adoration of the local pet community. And it’s easy to see why.
When asked how she arrived at this unorthodox career path, Sue simply replies, “It was Lucky.” Lucky the collie cross that is; a loyal companion who accompanied Sue to college and watched over the early years of her budding photojournalism career. “She was the best travel buddy. We would drive the 401 together,” reminisces Sue fondly. “She was a really great dog and made me laugh a lot. We became great friends and when she passed on I was devastated.”
By Sue Bird
That’s when Sue became inspired to turn her passion and aptitude for photography towards a new niche market – dogs and their people. Then in 2006, tired of grueling newspaper shift work and wishing to spend more time with her daughters, Sue started her own business, determined to capture the magical bond that exists between animal and owner in ways that had never been seen before.
Subtle symmetry, strong lines and captivating textures occupy Sue’s photographic style, bringing forth an organic image that embodies a story and plunges beneath the aesthetic of outer appearances. “There are sections of your life that you think back to and remember by an animal, because they are a big part of us,” says Sue. “So to document your dog’s life is really to document your own. It is important to me that I tell the story of a family and that particular dog in every shoot.” Whether its frolicking in a field, playing at the beach, walking with a Mountie in the snow or lounging around in their favourite chair, Sue never fails to deliver striking images of canines, felines and equines alike that warm the heart and wag the tail.
The fact that her photo subjects now run around energetically on four legs and rarely sit still does not bother Sue in the least. In fact, she seems to thrive on the unpredictability of her subjects, because as she says, they always offer something new for the camera to discover. “When I worked as a photojournalist for major dailies it was my job to go into a situation that was completely uncontrolled and come back with a cover page worthy image,” reveals Sue. “The same principle applies when I work with clients and their pets. No matter how unpredictable the situation may be, I walk away from it having captured the moment in some lovely and unusual ways.”
Personalized bereavement packages are another special aspect of Sue’s pet photography that puts her ahead of the pack. When an animal is coming to the end of their life or suddenly taken ill, Sue makes herself available for emergency sessions so that clients can capture the essence of their beloved pet before they go. “So often we think that we have more time,” reveals Sue knowingly. “It is a shock to come back from the vet realizing that you only have a few days or weeks left. People wish they had more photos, more memories to hang on to. I find bereavement sessions to be very therapeutic for the client, even though people often don’t want to talk about death and what is coming.”
It is the extra care and compassion exercised in all her work that is making Sue well known across the country. She conducts shoots regularly in and around the Ottawa area, Toronto, Montreal, Victoria and even parts of the United States. No matter what the situation or environment, Sue discovers something special about any pet’s personality and captures who they are forever in a photograph that becomes an instant family treasure. To see more of Sue’s work, visit http://www.photobysuebird.com.
By Laura L. Benn