Image of Emma Slade and her dog Schlappohr

Unveiling Life’s Transitions: From Geology to Finance, and finally, to Capturing the Spirt of Dogs. This is not just a story of career change; it’s a narrative of self-discovery, the pursuit of happiness, and the transformative power of embracing life’s unexpected passions.

Early Life

I am an only child, so growing up it was just me and my parents. My dad was in the Army so we moved around until I was about ten; with different homes in England, as well as spells in Germany and Kuwait. I even learnt to speak some Arabic (although can only remember how to count from one to ten, and say thank you).

I loved to read, and still do. I was equally happy playing with Barbies and toy cars (I still love cars!). I enjoyed learning new things; my favourite subjects at school were maths and the sciences.

I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do when I was older; I thought maybe something to do with computers but didn’t know what.

Education

By the time I started secondary school, we had settled in Shawbury, Shropshire; where my dad still lives.

After my GCSEs (some of you will remember what they were!) I went on to study A-Levels; choosing Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Geography. And it was whilst studying Geography that I decided what I wanted to do at University. Geography was my favourite subject; particularly topics such as volcanoes and earthquakes.

I chose to focus on Geology, so I did a Masters in Earth Sciences at Oxford University. But what was I going to do afterwards? The UK isn’t particularly well-known for its volcanoes and earthquakes… I considered moving to Iceland (a country I have since visited; it’s an amazing place) but I wasn’t ready to leave the UK.

So, I changed direction completely, and in 2001 (yes I’m that old!) moved to London after finishing my Masters degree.

Working Life

My first job was at a firm of auditors, where I specialised in auditing charities. At the same time I was studying to be a Chartered Accountant with the ICAEW. This was another three years of studying, after four years at university – clearly a sucker for punishment.

I qualified as a Chartered Accountant and then did what a lot of people did – I moved into banking. Initially in Finance but then moving into Compliance. I enjoyed my job – we were like the internal police of the bank. I think in another life I would have been a great policewoman.

I worked in banking for about 16 years. I loved my work, I loved the team of people I worked with. But, it was long hours. It was stressful. And there was one thing missing from my life – a dog. I’d desperately wanted a dog as a child but never had one.

In January 2018, I picked up eight week old cockapoo Schlappohr (German for floppy ear), and my life changed completely. Corny as it may sound, but I realised there was more to life. And a few months later I quit my job.

Photography

So here I was, a new dog mum. With no job. What was I going to do?

I think it goes without saying that I love dogs. And I’d always enjoyed photography as a hobby – mainly taking photos when on holiday. So I thought, ‘Why not combine the two?’

I attended various courses, worked with mentors, and re-trained to be a dog photographer. I set up ‘Paws in Action’ and I’ve never been happier. I love getting out and about in London and across the South-East, meeting clients and their dogs; all of whom have a unique personality. I’ve gone from wearing tailored dresses and high heels, to wearing waterproofs and lying in the wet and often muddy grass taking photos of dogs just being dogs. Check out some of my work here.

Fitness

When I’m not out photographing dogs you may well find me doing exercise of some sort. I started running at university and although I hated it, I carried on when I moved to London. Eventually in 2006 I ran the London Marathon in a (for me) disappointing 4 hours and 8 minutes. I was determined to improve on this but running took its toll on my hips and I had to give it up.

I took up cycling instead and when I was working in the City I used to cycle to and from work most days. I also became obsessed (in a good way) with the gym and lifting weights. These days my bike is hooked up to a turbo trainer and I have my own mini gym at home.

In 2022 I had to have surgery, twice, as a result of a collapsed disc in my spine. They were a tough few months – not being allowed to work or exercise. But I’m back doing the things I love and fighting fit.

Image of Emma Slade and her dog Schlappohr

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this brief overview of my life and perhaps even inspired some of you who may be thinking about a change of career! For more information, if you are considering a career change, this article has some great tips.

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