From winning prestigious awards to collaborating with the SPCA, Frankie Adamson’s dedication to her photography and advocacy for animal welfare shines through in her craft, Hounds of Hong Kong.
Frankie Adamson’s creative journey began with the inception of Hounds of Hong Kong, her photography venture that not only captures heartwarming moments but also serves as a platform for advocacy. Her commitment to animal welfare led her to collaborate with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (HK) (SPCA), an organisation with a long-standing history of promoting kindness to animals, protecting their health and welfare and preventing cruelty to animals.
From adopting a dog from the SPCA to earning accolades like winning the International Region’s Natural World Category in the prestigious 2023 BIPP Regional Awards, Frankie’s photography has become a powerful tool in fostering connections and raising awareness for animal welfare causes.
Join us as we embark on this captivating expedition through the lens of Frankie Adamson, where extraordinary moments are immortalised, and her love for animals finds a voice.
How Did You Discover Your Passion for Photographing Animals in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong, in my opinion, is an incredibly [visual] place. Many people, both locals and outsiders, may not initially associate it with abundant nature and animals. However, I aim to show that Hong Kong offers a diverse range of environments which complement its remarkably rich culture. This city is home to numerous pets and a wide variety of wild animals.
Capturing their stories through photography has become my passion. I firmly believe that there is no other place like Hong Kong in the world.
What Inspired you to Found Hounds of Hong Kong?
Inspiration struck when I began documenting my dog’s upbringing, fueled by the loss of my older dog to lymphoma. Realising the [lack of photos] I had of my previous companion, I compensated by capturing countless moments of my new dog in Scotland.
In 2020, I resolved to master photography beyond auto mode, delving into tutorials and daily practice. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, we returned to Hong Kong with our dog, and photography became my [new focus]. As my photography skills improved, Hounds of Hong Kong was born in 2021 as a way to share my skills and passion with others.
Winning a British Institute of Professional Photography Award is a Remarkable Achievement. Can You Tell Us About the Story Behind the Photograph that Earned You This Honour?
A year ago, I received an International Region award for my image, the “Silver Lining,” which continues to inspire me. This winning image was captured during my final client shoot before Covid-19 restrictions paused my work. It is a composite of multiple shots, with the subject initially gazing up at their owner, creating the illusion of looking skyward.
The location, often overlooked, becomes captivating through the blend of colours and the dog’s expression. This photo gained immense significance when my client adored it. Despite the uncertainties brought by Covid-19, this image ultimately became [pivotal] and I now call it the picture that changed my life.
“Silver Lining” by Frankie Adamson
Can You Share More About Your Collaboration with the SPCA?
Shooting with the SPCA was an incredible honour for me. Collaborating with such an exceptional charity filled me with immense pride. Seeing my image displayed outside their headquarters, symbolising their cause, was truly remarkable. Using my skills to raise awareness for important causes is a [natural choice]. The relaunch of the Pawprint magazine focusing on pet inclusivity and culture in Hong Kong resonated deeply with my values as a pet owner.
The SPCA plays a significant role in promoting and educating the public about this issue, as well as advocating for pet-friendly spaces. I had an amazing experience taking one of my dogs on a Star Ferry ride, enjoying the welcoming atmosphere with other dog owners. The SPCA’s work in promoting pet inclusivity and advocating for pets in public spaces is commendable, and I’m grateful to represent them.
Adopting a Rescue Dog from the SPCA After Your Collaboration is a Heartwarming Decision. What Led You to Take This Step and Welcome Another Furry Friend into Your Home?
After collaborating with the SPCA, we decided to adopt a rescue dog, adding to our existing two cats and two dogs. During the SPCA cover shoot, I met Lily, now named Bea, who turned out to be the sibling of a dog I had previously worked with. There was an immediate connection when we met again later that day.
Before committing to adopt her, we considered the happiness of our other pets. As part of the adoption process, we introduced Bea to our dogs to assess their compatibility. The SPCA has a well-thought-out process for introducing new animals to homes with existing pet families.
The meeting occurred in a designated space at the SPCA headquarters, allowing the dogs to meet on their own terms. The new dog naturally gravitated towards my younger dog, while my older dog needed more time to adjust. The introduction was vital to ensure a suitable match and minimise risks. Overall, the introduction played a key role in assessing the dynamic between the dogs, and I’m now thrilled to report they’re all getting along really well months later.
Seeing their positive interaction, we proceeded with the adoption. With ample space and a beachside location, Bea has seamlessly become part of our family, relishing her life as a beach dog.
How do Your Pets Contribute to Your Creative Work?
While my cats rarely feature in my photographs due to their independent nature, my dogs are always ready to participate. They associate the camera with treats and eagerly join the process. One dog, especially the puppy we welcomed into our home after our old dog passed away, is well-trained and serves as a reliable model. Her intense gaze and captivating presence make her a fascinating subject, [embodying] the focused nature of border collies.
Although I photograph my dogs less often now, I occasionally capture opportunistic shots during hikes, resulting in an award-winning image this year.
What Advice Would You Give to Individuals Who are Considering Adopting Their First Pet?
When considering bringing any animal into your home, it is important to take into account not only the benefits of being a pet owner but also the perspective of the pet. Conducting thorough research and gaining a comprehensive understanding of the pet’s background and needs is crucial.
Prospective pet owners should ask numerous questions and gather information about the pet’s history to determine if they can provide what the animal requires. Honesty with oneself is paramount in assessing whether there is a suitable match and compatibility in terms of lifestyle.
Making responsible decisions that prioritise the well-being of the animal should be the ultimate goal.
Have Any Animals You Encountered Left a Lasting Impression on You?
Every animal that has been in front of my camera, whether it’s a pet or a wild animal, has left a lasting impression on me to some extent. Each dog I work with always teaches me something new, and every shoot brings about a different encounter.
I have a funny story to share. During one particular shoot, I wanted to capture a head tilt from a dog because it’s super cute. Usually, I can make some funny noises that can get the desired behaviour, but this dog was not having it. The owner suggested that I try blowing a raspberry or making a fart noise, so I shamelessly went for it. In a public setting, I made fart noises, and surprisingly, it worked wonders. I managed to capture the best head tilt from that dog. That’s one of my best stories!
What Do You Think is the Key to Capturing the Unique Personalities of Animals in Your Portraits?
I believe patience is the key. Rushing the process or expecting instant performance from animals is unrealistic. To achieve the best results, I provide ample time for them to adjust to the environment. If they’re in an unfamiliar place, using rewards can be helpful. Interestingly, minimal involvement from the owner is often enough—remaining quiet, calm, and still.
As the photographer, I take on the role of creating unusual noises to grab their attention. Sometimes, favourable environmental factors contribute to exceptional shots, like when a dog fixated on a nearby pigeon, resulting in a captivating moment I captured. By observing and responding to the animals’ interesting behaviours and researching their natural tendencies, I aim to achieve authentic and compelling portraits while ensuring the animal remains happy and relaxed throughout.
What Emotions Do You Intend to Evoke in Viewers Through Your Photographs?
I find it interesting that different people have varied responses and interpretations when they see my photographs. I believe that diversity in perspectives is great and it fascinates me that individuals may perceive an image differently than I do.
My primary goal is to establish a connection between the subject and the viewer, even if the subject isn’t looking directly at the camera. If you browse through my portfolio, you’ll notice my preference for capturing moments where the dog is engaged in something other than facing the camera. These images tend to intrigue people and keep them guessing, allowing them to create their own narratives. I genuinely enjoy hearing people’s thoughts and interpretations of my work.
In Addition to Portraiture, What Other Aspects of Animal Welfare and Photography Do You Love?
I’m a strong advocate for pet inclusivity in Hong Kong, and I’m passionate about wildlife photography, particularly in East Africa. I’m dedicating more time to capturing images of endangered species and using my skills to raise awareness about animal conservation. Cheetahs, in particular, face significant threats, and I want to share their stories and those of other animals facing genuine challenges.
On a local level, I’m a strong advocate for inclusivity in Hong Kong, where organisations like the SPCA do incredible work through outreach and education. These two areas, wildlife conservation and promoting an inclusive society, are of great concern to me and hold significant importance in increasing awareness about animal welfare.
Do You Have Any Advice to Share with Aspiring Animal Photographers?
To aspiring photographers specialising in pet photography or capturing the essence of animals, here’s my advice: being self-critical is a significant advantage.
When assessing your work after a photo session, thoroughly evaluate what you have captured. Even if you have some of your best shots, you’ll always find areas that could be improved.
Initially, this list of improvements can be overwhelming, even for me at times. However, resist the urge to carry the entire list in your mind during the next shoot, as it hampers focus. Instead, choose one specific aspect, like composition, and concentrate on enhancing it in your next session. Address one aspect at a time, taking gradual steps.
What are You Looking Forward to Working on the Rest of the Year and in the Years to Come?
In order to dedicate more time to expanding my wildlife portfolio, I am currently taking a break from Hounds of Hong Kong during the hotter summer months to take up a photography residency at Governors’ Camp in the Masai Mara in Kenya. I will be based here during the wildebeest migration, and I hope to make the most of extended time in the field to capture more unique images of these incredible animals. I hope to continue to tell their vitally important stories and use my photography to help raise awareness of their plights. You can follow my experience in Kenya on Instagram @the.wildlife.side.
I am now taking bookings for dog portrait sessions from mid-October onwards, when the weather in Hong Kong is more suitable for dogs being photographed outdoors. I have now made the transition into photography full time, so I am extremely excited to commit my whole self to doing what I love and making dog owners happy.
For more information on how to adopt a pet with the SPCA, visit their official website.