For some, the prospect of starting your own business can be a daunting experience but not for one North East photographer who seems to be taking it all in his stride.

Portrait of a working Sheepdog
Dog studio portrait Tess sheepdog

Last year, Jason Allison of Crook, County Durham launched his photography business initially specialising in pet portraiture and has never looked back. Within the space of a year, he has become an internationally renowned photographer securing a string of regional, national and international awards.

He has quickly built up his reputation as the ‘go-to’ dog and cat photographer with some people even prepared to travel hundreds of miles across the UK to book a sitting in his specially kitted out studio, which is located on the first floor of the Barton Townley Building in Willington.

The 47-year-old married father of three has already racked up 33 Guild of Professional Photographers awards this year including 10 Bronze, 9 Silver and 4 Gold awarded images in Pets. The Guild is a professional body committed to photographic standards.

Receiving awards in recognition for his artistic skills and keen eye for detail is not uncommon for Jason. Last year, he was awarded the ‘Photographers Bar’ for his people portraits for consistency and also an international top 10 position for people portraiture but this year, his focus has most definitely been pets.

The business will be celebrating its first anniversary on Monday, 27 August and he will be opening it up for people to go along and view some of his award-winning photos.

Jason said: “It’s been a rollercoaster ride but one which has given me lots of satisfaction and I couldn’t have planned it any better. The thing with photographing dogs and cats is that no two sittings are the same. People ask me is it hard to photograph animals but with a bit of patience and getting to know them, I always get the shot I want and the feedback and reviews I get from clients is amazing.

“I cannot believe it’s coming up to a year (seven in dog years) already but I wanted to do something special for the first anniversary so I have decided to open up my studio for people to come along, have a cuppa and a chat and find out more. I’ll have some of my award-winning prints on display for people to view including 20 images which I prepared for a Crafstman qualification and was judged by a panel of international judges.

“I have always wanted to create portraits that exceed in originality and are of the highest quality. Every month, I enter the Guild of Professional Photographers competition to keep my quality high and ideas fresh and this has proved to be really successful. Running the studio, building the business and preparing prints for clients is hard work but it’s all been worthwhile. I would recommend to anyone thinking of setting up in business to do it – it is highly rewarding.”

One of Jason’s clients, Lesley from County Durham, said: “Jason is a most talented and inspirational artist. As well as a genuine, warm and charming chap, his approach is refreshing, exciting and innovative and together we have achieved the most stunning art work of our fabulous cats.”

In the short time since Jason has joined the Guild of Professional Photographers, he has achieved national recognition including being granted membership of the ‘Photographers Bar’ – a unique distinction only awarded to the photographers who achieve high standards throughout a full year.

He has also been acknowledged by the Guild as a Craftsman following strict evaluation of his work.

Guild Director Lesley Thirsk said: “Clearly Jason is a very talented photographer having achieved all he has with the Guild in just one year. It’s a bonus that he’s one of life’s nice guys too. I am delighted for Jason’s deserved successes and I congratulate him on the first anniversary of his studio – here’s to the next year!”

Jason’s studio in Willington will be open between 10am and 3pm on Bank Holiday Monday, 27 August. Coffee and cake will be available and visitors are invited to take a printed photo of their cute pet to enter the “I’ve got the Cutest Pet!” competition for an opportunity to win some great prizes on the day.

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