Celebrity photographer Raquel Rischard made the move from starring in front of the camera to fulfil her true passion behind the lens. She now boasts a top client list including many high profile models and fashion brands, such as Guess.
Kim O'Meara caught up with Raquel in between shoots to find out about her own two dogs and the importance of photography as we get some top tips for capturing our those special moments.
Tell us about your dogs - we'd like to know everything about them!
Well they’re both Pomeranians! They’re both little Pom Poms and I call them brother and sister but they’re definitely not.
Simba (the little brown haired one) is such a good puppy, even though he is 4 1/2 years old. He’s always going to be a puppy to me because he’s so little. He’s adopted, and I’m a really big believer in adoption. One of the models I've shot with didn’t want him anymore because they said he was too much trouble and he’s turned out to be no trouble at all. I firmly believe adopting animals is such a great joy.
E.B. is named after my Oma (my German Grandma) Ellie and Brigitte Bardot. E for Ellie, and B for Bardot. E.B is about 7 years old, and I also adopted her through another model that couldn’t handle her and I’m so lucky to have her.
These puppies are two of the funniest puppies in the world.
Photography By Alyssa Zakaria, Photo Edited by Raquel Rischard
E.B has such a sweet personality, she’s the first dog I ever had and I probably gave her too much attention at first because she was my first dog, so sometimes she does have a little bit of separation anxiety. When I go take the garbage out she greets me when I come back in like I’ve been gone for years, and she always waits at the window for me. She is such a great dog but definitely has separation anxiety. She humps her toy, a little Tiger stuffed animal, which is really funny because she’s a girl dog, but she’s always done it.
Simba growls at everything because he’s the only boy dog (and only boy) in the house and sometimes, when I date guys, he’ll sit in between us and growl at the guy if he doesn’t like him. Other than that he’s a super friendly pup, but if he doesn’t like a boyfriend he’ll tell me - he has no qualms about telling me. Sometimes in the middle of the night if you wake him up to try and move him, he’ll growl very loudly and it’ll scare the guy I’m with. He always wants to sleep as close as humanly possible to me.
But poor Simba, he has a low thyroid problem right now and he’s taking medicine to help him grow his hair back since he’s lost a lot of it due to his condition. So he has to take medicine every morning and every night before bed. But I always make the medicine fun for him to take and I call it his 'puppy medicine' in a fun voice and put the pills in Greenie pill pockets so it’s yummy and fun.
Also, Simba loves the camera. He loves to pop in on all of my shoots and all the models go crazy for him, and now he has his own Instagram, @Simbapoo. I was thinking about making a book of Simba since he’s in a lot of candid photos I’ve taken with the girls (models).
When did your interest in pets/animals begin and how long have you been a pet owner?
E.B was my first dog because when I was growing up I only ever had cats, my mom only wanted cats. So I’ve been an official pet owner on my own for seven years now, but I’ve been around house pets for a very long time.
Readers might recognise you from your time modelling in front of the camera, but you're possibly best known for your career forged behind the camera. Tell us a little about how your career switched and what you love most about your job!
Even when I used to model, I never really enjoyed it quite like I do being a photographer. I really wanted to be able to eat and drink whatever I want and when I modeled I couldn’t do any of those things and I felt like I wasn’t really experiencing life.
I’ve always loved beauty since I was a kid, every form of beauty - beautiful flowers, beautiful dogs - so now I happen to shoot very beautiful women. But true beauty comes from the inside and I reconfirm that every day.
What, or perhaps who, inspired you to follow the career path you chose?
It happened through my friends honestly. Being around a lot of girl friends that were models was definitely influential. My best friend Katrina, who I’ve known since I was 18, is older than me and started modeling and so she encouraged me to be a photographer because she had me take pictures of her very early on when I was first learning how to be a photographer. She is also the number one animal lover that I know.
The role photography plays capturing every little moment of our day has grown over the years, thanks mostly to technology evolving. What would you say the most important thing about photography is, from a pet owner's perspective?
The importance of photos is to capture precious moments and memories. Losing an animal is one of the hardest things in the world and that’s why shooting photos of them will help them stay alive forever in our memories.
I love whenever I can bring my dogs to photoshoots. A lot of times they’ll be in the background and they’ll be doing something super duper funny or cute, and they’re in so many shots that I’m going to make a book of them one day.
The great thing is that I never have to worry about having photos of me and my puppies because models I shoot with are always taking candid pictures of them for me. I get the cutest shots sent to me all the time and I’m so blessed.
What's the secret to capturing the perfect photograph?
My number one tip would be relaxation. You have to be utterly relaxed and comfortable yourself because your animals will be able to sense if you’re not.
Keep your camera close by so you can easily snap and make them not feel like they’re on display. The more relaxation and less action, the better.
Also, having their favourite toys and treats around really help. And if you remember what they do during the day (a lot of the time animals have routines) then you can always get yourself prepared to capture those day to day moments.
Raquel, get ready to anthropomorphise with some of our next questions :)
Do you have a motto that you live your life by? What would you say your dogs mottos might be?
My motto? One of my mottos would definitely be 'keep it naturally beautiful'.
E.B’s motto would be 'rub my belly!' and Simba’s would be 'are you gonna eat that?'. They’re total goofballs. Simba eats anything and everything possible, like watermelon and lettuce - things that dogs don’t normally want to eat.
If you were to swap roles with one of your dogs for a day, how do you think they'd cope being you and what would you love most about being them?
Oh my gosh that’s a funny question!
I think E.B. would love to be me since she’ll get a lot of attention, because I feel like I have a lot of responsibilities so I’m constantly dealing with people and I really think she’d love interacting with everyone. Plus, she’d probably love to dress up in cute clothes!
She won’t get belly rubs though because I'm not a fan, but I think she’d love being me cause she has a lot of energy.
I dream of being Simba every day! All he does is sit there, eat and poop, and everyone just tells him he’s the cutest puppy ever. That’s the life, seriously. Doing nothing and still being cute.
Here are some of our quick fire questions, are you ready?
Which do you prefer and why?
Big dogs or little dogs – I love all dogs, I actually one day would love to own a big dog. I just bought a house so I’d love to adopt a big dog to have around. I haven’t found the right one to adopt yet, but I definitely want one.
Pedigree dogs or cross-breeds – I love cross-breeds, I think they have beautiful personalities. But again, I love all dogs. I’m not a particular fan of owning super purebred dogs that are prone to a lot of health issues. I don't believe dogs are accessories and I know I own two pure Pomeranians, but I didn’t adopt them to show them off and Simba is a very fragile dog. I have to take him to the vet a lot, so it's a cost you have to consider if you have a purebred dog.
Days off or days at work – I love days at work, days off drive me crazy. My Grandma always said 'an idle mind is like the devil’s workshop' and I believe that’s very true. I like staying busy and working – I'm very proud of my work.
Describe the last time you laughed out loud because of something you saw one of your dogs, or another dog do.
Oh when E.B. humps her little toy she bangs her head on the floor. Like she goes really hard, and it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. I’m thinking about recording it and putting it on YouTube but it’s a bit risqué (laughs).
And of course anything Simba does is cute. He walks, it’s cute. He sleeps with his butt in the air, it’s cute. He poops, it’s cute. He’s such a cute, goofy puppy.
If you could arrange a photoshoot with anyone, past or present, who would you choose to shoot with and why?
I now shoot for Guess, for Paul Marciano, and so some of the Guess shoots have been my absolute favourite.
Oh wow, fantastic! Leading on from this, has there been an iconic photograph you've seen and thought 'I'd love to have done that'?
I would have loved to shoot Claudia Schiffer, particularly the very first famous Claudia Schiffer shot. I can easily recall the first image of her that made both her and Guess famous and if I could shoot something iconic and amazing like that today, I’d be honoured.
I love all the classic Guess imagery, and shooting for Guess makes me feel like I’m part of such an influential and iconic brand. I hope my work helps to make an impact on young girls who are into fashion since I was really into Guess when I was young and admired the brand’s style and beauty.
What is your current favourite…?
TV show – X-Men TV Show.
Book – I love Marvel comics. I’m a really big fan of X-Men comic books - I’d love to have a super power, something that helps makes the world a better place.
Film –Again, any of the X-Men movies.
Tell us something no one else knows about you.
I used to love sneaking E.B. into movie theatres. I would put her into a puppy bag and bring her with me and we’d watch movies together! I didn’t see a problem with it, she was quiet and we enjoyed watching together.
It worked until she saw a dog on the screen and started barking (laughs).
If you could sum it up, what do you think is the best thing about being a dog owner?
Talking about my animals is such a true joy for me because they’ve brought me so much happiness in my life.
I’ve been featured on a lot of magazine covers but K9 Magazine is by far one of my favourites because I have such a soft spot for my dogs since they bring me so much positive, genuine joy. It’s very rewarding to take care of them because they take care of me too.
Again I feel so blessed because whenever I’m sad or feeling a bit depressed I can look at my dogs and feel such comfort and love from them. I think dogs really are perfect companions whether you’re an elder or a young child.
Finish the following sentence, my dogs are...so well trained but (and this is going to sound bad to people who follow the rules) they always run around with no leash and never run away. They behave very well and I’m so proud of them.
And finally, this is always a tough question and often requires a fair degree of thinking time but…if your dogs had the ability to speak and answer one question and one question only, what would you ask them and what do you think that they would say?
(Laughs) That’s a hard question, 'do you believe in God?'.
Actually, I think I would just ask them a question of reassurance to make them feel better, like when I leave the house I’d say 'Mommy loves you and I promise you I’ll come back. Are you worried?' and I hope they’d say no! I care a lot about my dogs and I want them to feel as safe as possible.
Many Thanks Raquel!