It took years to compile these portraits, as Sue Packer explained, “the taking of the photograph was relatively easy. It was the research, the building of a trusting relationship with the subject and waiting for the right moment that took the time and hard work”. She selected her subjects carefully, friends, acquaintances or through chance meetings at local events. It was not a pretty face or animal she searched for, it was an edge – something different, remarkable, touching and once found she could spend several weeks with each subject waiting for the right moment to capture.
However some of these photographs were more spur of the moment, for instance, one featured a goldfish taking its last unceremonious swim down the u-bend, an unplanned image which Sue captured just as she arrived at the owners house.
These images burst with the extraordinary characters and animals she had met. Of her experiences Sue picked her most memorable:
I loved the little girl with the snails. Her Mum told her that she couldn’t have pets so she found her own from the garden.
Many of her photographs were clever and witty, but some looked at the harder moments of owning animals. Sue Packer had sensitively captured people mourning for the loss of their pets which had been part of their family for many years. Although pet owners in the UK are on the decrease with many people spending more time at work and less at home, these images helped explain the brighter moments and reasons why those that do, do.
Pets don’t worry if you have a face like a bucket of slugs, or the morning breath of a donkey. Not may marriages last the test of time but an animal friendship goes on forever.
This exhibition was organised and launched by The Harley Gallery and went on tour in the UK during 2006-7.