Over the past decade Rachael McKenna (née Hale) has become renowned throughout the world for her quirky and delightful images of babies and animals.

Rachael graduated from Wellington Polytech Design School in 1991 majoring in photography. Her first job was working as a photographic assistant to Anne Geddes, who was already making a name for herself in the field of baby photography.

Three years later Rachael headed to Europe on what New Zealanders call their OE (Overseas Experience). She returned home in 1995, determined to set up her own studio specializing in animal and child photography.

Her first big breakthrough came the same year when she entered an image of a pig wearing a watch in
a competition for professional New Zealand photographers. The only stipulation was that the image included a watch or clock face. “The pig was a Kunekune called Pixie,” says Rachael. “And the watch was made out of an old clock, an ancient leather belt and some massive fake diamantes, fastened round Pixie’s chubby neck.”

The prize was a set of studio lights. Rachael, who just returned from London, broke, and hoping to set
up business on her own, desperately needed those lights. “And I won!” says Rachael. The same image also went on to win a Gold Award at the Australian Professional Photography Awards. Now Rachael could concentrate on her two passions: photography and animals.

After the release of her first book 101 Salivations: For the Love of Dogs in 2003, the ‘Rachael Hale’ brand started to grow and Rachael spent the next few years creating animal images for licensing. As well as appearing on literally millions of greeting cards, calendars, posters and stationery around the world, Rachael’s images continued to feature in a number of bestselling animal books including: 101 Cataclysms: For the Love of Cats; Smitten: A Kitten’s Guide to Happiness; Snog: A Puppy’s Guide to Love. More recently, Rachael has turned her eye to babies with Baby Love published in 2008. Altogether her books have sold nearly three million copies in 13 languages. Twelve years on, Rachael was getting bogged down with the relentless nature of studio work and realized that the way forward was to just do what she’d always wanted to do: work with animals in their own environment, in the wild, using natural light.

By then, says Rachael, “I was ready to change my name.” And so came the twin births of baby Charlize and the Rachael McKenna brand. The images Rachael creates are now published under her new name, Rachael McKenna, and she is no longer involved with the images and merchandise published under the Rachael Hale brand. Today Rachael, husband Andy and daughter, Charlize, live in a tiny village in the southwest of France.

In 2011, when Charlize was six months old, Rachael set off on her first assignment under her new name, from her long-time publisher, PQ Blackwell. As she says, “It was my dream job. Travelling through France and taking photos of beautiful cats in the character-filled villages, cities and countryside of France.”

Rachael’s gorgeous new books, The French Cat and The French Dog are published in the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, France, Germany and Japan.

Go to www.pqblackwell.com for more details, or www.amazon.com for more information.