Mildenhall former Olympic shooter Nigel Wallace on his new dog photography business
Nigel Wallace won gold for England at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in the 10m air rifle pair, but he is now getting a thrill from another kind of shooting.
The 53-year-old, who lives in Mildenhall, also represented Britain at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics but turned to photography upon retiring from the sport after winning bronze at the 2002 Commonwealths in Manchester.
This became a hobby, but it was only when he got his trusty border collie Darcy seven years ago that he found an activity he wished to pursue for a career.
“I took early retirement and left my role at BT after 35 years in 2018 because I wanted to be a professional dog photographer,” he said.
“I had financial stability to do what I wanted to do.
“In 2019 I started thinking about things from a business point of view.
“That was the launch year. I was wondering, do people want this, and people did! The early feedback gave me the encouragement to go for it. It was a full-time job and in my first full year, in 2020, I exceeded my expectations – even in lockdown.
“People loved what I was doing and it has grown from there.”
Nigel, who was born in Essex but moved to Mildenhall in 1990, is not able to meet his clients at the moment due to Covid-19 restrictions but has bookings for this year.
“I do everything on location, no studios,” he said. “I meet the client and take the dogs for a walk – they are having a great time. I move around the dogs and take shots.”
Nigel can set up group shots, action shots, and a popular choice is to have a dog jumping over a hurdle. He has worked with a dog trainer and says he has a number of techniques to get the attention of a dog, and lead it to perform the perfect action for a photo. Some of his work is with dogs which cannot be let off a lead, but thanks to Photoshop, this is not a problem.
Nigel has photographed cats and horses, but has his sights on becoming respected as a photographer of dogs. And this ambition has been boosted this month with The Guild of Photographers granting him membership to the Photographer’s Bar. This represents an elite recognition of the quality of his work, with judges assessing his work over the course of a year to assess its professional skill. Nigel was announced to have won in a virtual awards ceremony, which left him feeling ‘over the moon’.
“It’s the best job. Nothing beats having fun and getting muddy taking photos,” he said.