Our fourth and final shoot at Barkarica was truly out of this world. I said in Part two of my Barkarica blogs that the beach shoot in Manuel Antonio was my favourite of the week, but I’m not 100% convinced of that, our final shoot was something truly special.

We travelled about an hour from the house to get to the PAWS headquarters. PAWS (Pets of Aguirre Welfare Shelter) are a charity working to rescue and rehome the unlucky and abandoned animals in the areas of Quepos, Manuel Antonio and Aquirre. We first stopped off at their shelter learnt a bit more about what they do and met some of the puppies in their care, there was much oohing and ahhing, and we all managed to sneak in some cuddles.

Slideshow above: A behind the scenes look at some of us cuddling puppies!

We took some of the older dogs for a short walk to a river clearing hidden amongst the trees. It. Was. Beautiful. We were blessed with that stunning warm glowing golden light that shines through breaks in dark grey clouds after a storm. When Holly from PAWS told us to watch out for crocodiles in the water, to throw a couple of rocks in before we dip our toes, and more importantly, let the dogs go in, we were not deterred from getting wet, though many more than a couple of stones were thrown in the water, just to be sure!

We had several dogs to work with, all of them were available for adoption at that point in time and our hope was that PAWS could use our images to help find these animals forever homes. Breaking into small groups we took turns working with each of the dogs, Coco, Peanut, Ellie, Veronika and Fred. As the afternoon turned into evening, the golden light remained before giving way to an amazing purple and orange sunset. We made good use of the fading light and stunning sky taking the opportunity to practice a bit more work with lights and also to create some silhouettes. With one final day of lessons to go, Barkarica was coming to an end and there really couldn’t have been a more amazing end to our final shoot… or so we thought.

Perhaps the most magical thing that happened during the week was this: Coco the beautiful black dog, still growing into her magnificent ears was a gentle soul, she craved our love and was quick to lean in for a cuddle with any one of us who was willing to provide one. She made a lasting impression on us all, but one of our tribe, Christine, returned to the house that evening with gentle Coco at the forefront of her thoughts. The following morning, Christine told us she was going to see if adopting Coco and taking her back home to Oregon was a possibility. There was a bit of paperwork to sort out, but later that day, Coco joined us for our final night at the Barkarica house and the following day as we all left Manuel Antonio, so did Coco, with adoption papers complete, vet checks done and a spot on the flight home with Christine. Coco now lives with Christine, her husband and their pack of 6 labradors. Cue many happy tears!

I’m so happy to say that many of the other dogs and puppies we photographed with PAWS have since found new homes too.

Slideshow above.

Our final day was spent at the house, and I’ll sum it up quickly to try and avoid getting emotional all over again.

We were treated to one final visit from the capuchins, who decided it was party time on the rooftop deck. We took a ‘monkey break’ from lessons to see what all the noise was about and there they were, about half a dozen of them, making a racket jumping on the loungers, swinging in the hammocks and throwing cushions at each other! The squirrel monkeys came by one last time too, and this troop had babies, 4 or 5 of them, travelling on their mum’s backs. WOW!

During the week we shared stories, we had lessons in the pool (and some more ‘normal’ places), we were surrounded by beauty and nature everywhere we looked, the dog (and cat) models were incredible, we laughed, we cried, we learned and we were inspired. We had just spent a week in the jungle and once again we were learning from the best in the business, whose passion and enthusiasm for their work is so infectious and their generosity in sharing all their knowledge is something I can never thank them for enough. So Charlotte, Kaylee, Nicole and Sam, thank you again. To all my barka friends old and new, thank you too. And Special thanks to Holly from PAWS for finding such brilliant dogs.

May the next barka adventure be as epic as the first two!

Read more of my Barkarican adventures by clicking the links below and dont’ forget to comment, I’d love to know what you enjoyed reading/seeing!

Barkarica Part One | Barkarica Part Two | Barkarica Part Three

If you are interested in future out of this world pet photography retreats, head over to the barka ladies website and sign up to the mailing list. The next one is in France and it looks amazing!

See more of Charlotte’s work here | See more of Kaylee’s work here | See more of Nicole’s work here