Ok, when I heard that the theme for this week's blog circle was "Git Lit," I got this huge grin on my face from a memory from a few months ago. Of course the theme is referring to photography, but all I could think about was a little trouble that Hermes got himself into a few months back. ;O)
I had friends visiting from out of state and at one point, my friend came upstairs and asked, "Kelly, if Hermes got in our room would he get into things he shouldn't?" I just laughed and said, "Yes, what did he do?" She looked at me and said, "You might want to call the vet" as she held up what looked like a treat bag. When I asked what it was she said, "CBD dog chews." I smiled and asked how many were in the bag to start with. She said twenty. When I asked how many were left she said, four. (Good grief, Hermes! lol)
Of course this happened on a weekend so my vet was out of the office, and the girl at the desk told me I should probably call poison control. Instead I just googled it and found that every single site said, "...is not fatal." That was good enough for me. I looked at Hermes and said, "You're on your own, buddy" and decided we would just watch him for a bit and make sure that he was ok.
After about 15 minutes or so Hermes was, well... he was "lit." He was laying in front of the sliding glass doors with his head tilted back sloooooowwly inspecting every inch of the ceiling from one corner to the next and back again. (Can you picture it?!! Ha!)
I do wish that I had taken a picture now, but at the time we figured it wasn't going to look like anything out of the ordinary without a tie dyed t-shirt and some Doritos. ;O)
As it's in the single digits outside, the only thing these two are concerned about getting lit right now is... the fireplace. 🐾
If you struggle to get good pictures of your dog,
here are a few tips about lighting that can help.
Whether you're using a cell phone or a camera, turn off your flash!
The flash will almost always give your dog "alien eyes." This is due to a special layer of cells that help them see better at night. The flash can also make them uncomfortable and not want to look at you again if you have that "scary thing" in your hand. So, unless it is absolutely necessary, turn the flash OFF.
When you are outside you want your dog to be facing the light.
This is especially important if your dog has black fur. When the light is behind your dog, it can create shadows on their face and chest causing them to look very dark.
Find some shade.
Most people think that a bright sunny day is perfect for pictures. It's beautiful outside so the pictures are going to be beautiful, too, right? Not always. In fact, unless you are manually applying your camera settings you're probably not going to be happy without some editing. Bright sun, especially in the middle of the day will cast harsh shadows. These shadows will be unavoidable and in most cases your dog will be half really, really bright and half really, really dark. The best thing to do is to find some shade. On days with no clouds, tons of sun, and very little shade you'll find that early morning or early evening are the best times to take pictures because the sun is much lower and not as harsh.
Overcast days are great for photographing your dog (and perfect for black dogs).
Don't let the absence of blue in the sky fool you into thinking your pictures won't be nice. On overcast days everything will be evenly lit with no bright spots or harsh shadows. For the best results (especially with black dogs) you still want to have your dog facing the light (or where the sun would be if there were no clouds). This will insure that you will be able to see their awesome expression in every shot.
When you're indoors (again, turn off that flash), you want to get your dog in the best natural light available. If you have lots of windows you will probably be ok in the majority of the room. If you have limited light, get your dog close to the window. Ideally, you'll want to try and be between your dog and the window so that the light is not behind your dog. (Make sure that your body is not casting a shadow on your model.) The part that's different about photographing indoors is that mid-day is usually a good time to take pictures as the sun is not coming directly in the window.
I hope these tips help. With a little practice you'll soon be able to spot perfect lighting scenarios to compliment your dog. 🐾
As this is a blog circle post, you can check out lighting tips from others as well! Start with Linda Perdue of VP Shoots Photography, serving pet lovers in the Tampa Bay area of Florida to continue around the circle.
Through the years I have made scrapbooks filled with pictures and stories for each of my kids as well as for my husband and I. When I found Designer Digitals digital scrapbooking site I was instantly hooked on the journaling part that I could incorporate so easily. Going back through the pages that I had created I was surprised to find one page in particular. It sums up my photography business perfectly. The interesting thing is, this was written years before I even considered starting a business!
The journaling reads:
If I could...
I would visit the troops and take candid photos. I would give them to the men and women in the military so they could see what I see. That they make a difference. That they are appreciated. That it’s not a small thing that they do.
I would take candid photos of the participants and workers of the Special Olympics. I would give them to them so that they could see what I see. That they are wonderful. That they are cherished. That they are winners.
I would go to nursing homes and take candid photos (and some posed ones, too because they love that) of the residents. I would give them to the residents so that they could see what I see. That they are not forgotten. That they are valuable. That they are loved.
I would go to the streets and take candid photos of the homeless. I would give them to the men, women and children so that they could see what I see. That they are people. That they are worth as much as the next person. That they are seen.
I would go to the schools and take candid photos of the teens. I would give them to the students so that they could see what I see. That they are unique. That they are interesting. That they are attractive and important.
I would take candid photos of the ordinary, everyday people. I would give them to them so that they could see what I see. I would do this so that the teachers and the bus drivers, the taxi drivers and the mail people, the painters and the dancers, the stay at home moms, the janitors, animal control officers, truck drivers, cafeteria workers, hospital lab runners, and pizza delivery people. . . could all see what I see. That they are needed. That they are important. That they are part of the big picture . . . and can be proud of who they are.
"We can't all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by." -Will Rogers
So I will take pictures of the people who clap... and I will give them to them.
I've always loved candid photography and think everyone should have pictures of themselves and their loved ones that show the inside as well as the outside.
Pictures that tell a story.
If you're not ready for professional images quite yet, keep taking pictures on your own, but have someone else get some shots with you and your dog together, too. Frame a couple so that you will be reminded on a daily basis what it looks AND feels like to have such a great relationship with your dog. 🐾
As part of a Blog Circle, this post leads to another pet photographer's "tell a story" post and can be followed link by link around the circle starting with Pawparazzi Pet and Animal Photography presented by Shae Pepper.
First let me say, Happy new year!!! I hope you have all recuperated from the holidays and are ready for whatever 2020 has in store. (All good, fingers crossed!)
Second, I am participating in a world-wide blog circle of pet photographers again this year. Those of you who have been around for a while might have realized (or not) that I went missing from the circle in September of 2016 and then again in May of 2018, but THIS year is going to be different! (She says with all the certainty of...well, she's certain that she would like to give it her best shot.) I'm starting with a clean slate. Well, would you look at that! The theme for the first post is Blank Slate. ;O)
I'm not one who makes new year resolutions. It's just toooooo stressful for me! But, I do look forward to starting something new at the beginning of each year be that making a new quilt, creating a new scrapbook, or starting a new photography project. (I've always had multiple hobbies and think they are good for the soul.)
At the end of each year I basically start with a clean slate when it comes to my business. I update my web-site and add some of the new furry faces and pet parents that I became friends with over the year. It's always so fun to relive those sessions! After I've stretched this out to last as long as possible, I get myself up to date on the administrative aspects of the business. (Who am I kidding, this is a constant battle, 2 miles, uphill both ways, in the snow!) This is all stuff that I need to keep up with, but it's not the most glamorous part of owning a business.
With all of the not-so-fun parts, I'm very well aware that my personality needs creativity and change, so I've also been hard at work on a new project. This will involve a new type of session that I'll be offering focused on fundraising for charities.
For twenty, no thirty, (ok, let's just say many) years now I've often referred to myself as a "professional volunteer." Several of the opportunities that I've had have led to insight about just how many non-profits there are that no one even knows about. So many organizations go completely un-noticed because the bigger ones are always the first to mind. A perfect example is when a business does a food drive or fundraiser for a local charity, (and, thank you!) they usually just go with the well-known places in town and call it good.
The hope is that these new sessions will not only help charities monetarily, but in a more impactful way by bringing awareness to their cause.
I hope I've intrigued you and I promise to let you know as soon as I've gotten everything set for the sessions. But, for now I hope that you are able to create something fun with your own blank slate. Happy New Year!! 🐾
If this is your first time with a blog circle just continue on and see what other pet photographers have created for the blank slate theme. Start here with Elaine Tweedy of I Got the Shot Photography, capturing moments and memories for pets and their people in Northeastern PA.
There is often a lot of traffic and commotion in a household and sometimes dogs just need to get away from it all. If they have a crate (or kennel) that they are use to, it provides an atmosphere where they can feel safe and secure. They can go to their safe place to escape situations that might be frightening or stressful, or even just to take a nap.
We were Dash's fourth home. I was relieved for him when I found out that he had always liked his crate. When there were big changes in his life, he always had his
own little shell that he could retreat to when he was nervous. (Turns out he's ALWAYS been a bit high strung, but his crate helps with that, too.) ;O)
A crate is especially good for rescue dogs (in my opinion). When I foster, I always try and crate train them if they have not had a crate of their own before. I want them to be able to take their "safe place" with them when they are adopted. It really helps with the transition from one home to another.
I start a foster dog's crate training by putting the dog's bed in front of the open crate in the same room that I am in most of the day. When I decide that they are not concerned about the crate being there, I put their bed inside the crate (again, with the door open). Once the dog is going in and out of the crate on their own, you know they are comfortable. Closing the door to the crate is sometimes a little scary for them so I do this at night with the crate next to my bed. Before long the dog is going into his crate at night as well as when I leave the house without any hesitation.
Depending on the personality, the foster might just learn by example like Walter did. ;O)
There are some situations that require crates. Being from Texas, evacuations come to mind. If you ever have to evacuate because of a hurricane, tornado, flood, etc., the shelters always require that pets have a crate. They will almost always have to turn down pets that don't.
There are many other situations where a crate can make things a lot easier. I have a friend who's dog learned how to open the condo door when they would leave for dinner. She would escape the room and eventually find her way via elevator down to the main floor! As entertaining as it was (after the fact, ha!) it is not a safe situation to find your dog in.
Staying in a hotel, an RV or camper, or just staying at a friend or family member's home can be much more pleasant with a dog who is use to a crate.
One year my son and his wife brought their two big dogs home for Christmas. Since we didn't know how the dogs would react to a little white dog running around, (I pictured a rabbit in their eyes) we up-sized Hermes' crate to "shark tank" and let him stay where he was more comfortable and out of reach of the other dogs. Once all three dogs got use to each other, Hermes was still able to get under his blanket in the crate and take a stress-free nap when he needed some alone time. ;O)
Some people don't like the idea of their dog being in a crate and they all have their reasons, but I truly believe (if it is not EVER used as a punishment) a dog loves having his own space to unwind and feel secure just like we do.
**If your dog has never used a crate before, you need to take some precautions. You should never just put your dog in a crate and then leave if they have never been in a crate. They could panic and injure themself trying to get out. As with all training, each dog is different so the training will vary accordingly. There are many posts on-line about crates and I encourage you to look at articles from advocates of both sides before deciding what is best for your dog.
We've all heard people say they have a "service dog" or a "therapy dog" or even an "emotional support" dog. These titles sound like thy would be similar as far as what the dog's job might be, but they are actually all quite different.
A friend of mine who is not only a lover of all things dog, but a talented and gifted trainer recently wrote an article for a private Facebook page hosted by Paws Pet Resort. In the article Sami Jo explains the differences and fun aspects of working dogs and their jobs, and I wanted to share it with you guys. This is a copy of the article shared with her permission.
Recently I was speaking with a customer about the differences between "service dogs" and "therapy dogs." During this conversation, I realized people don't always know the unique and fun differences between these dogs. Below is some fun information regarding different working dogs!
Enjoy~Sami Jo Menning
*These are very simple descriptions of all the work these dogs perform and not an all-inclusive description*
SEARCH AND RESCUE DOGS:
These are dogs trained to help the public with any missing person. Whether alive or passed they are trained to tell their human where they are located. There are different organizations people can certify through. These dogs should be really good at problem-solving.
HRD - Human Remains Detection is dogs alerting on human remains. Gross right? But it actually is super beneficial for people who are missing more than a week or any type of scene where they need hints on the case. These dogs are trained to perform a final indication when they have smelt the scent of human remains.
Live Find (Area and Tracking) - There are two kinds here but practically a dog will get sent when they know the victim is probably alive. A kid stuck in a snowstorm, a guy missing for 24 hours or any time there might be a kid with a medical or mental illness that has wandered away. The dog is trained to bring their handler to the victim. The dog gets rewarded for finding the person.
Article Search - This is for dogs to help find clues where they indicate in any article that has a scent from a victim or fresh scent. A dog can tell the difference between old scent and new scent from a human touching an item.
These dogs are trained to help the public by providing comfort. These dogs should have good obedience and should be stable and confident around other dogs, people and places.
Organizations - There are many organizations you can go through. The most well known here locally is Therapy Dogs International. These dogs are certified to go into schools, hospitals, and places to offer therapy from just being around them. It is pretty cool to be apart of. Your dog has to have great obedience as well as demeanor to excel in this.
Disaster Relief - There are specific organizations that certify dogs to help with disaster relief. These dogs and their handlers travel where there is a big disaster that people may be staying in shelters for safety. This is a time a disaster relief dog will come. This is a different certification and test in itself.
EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS:
These are animals that are there to offer emotional support. Sadly, it is something people take way advantage of to get free rent, hotel rooms, etc. They are for anyone who gets relief from their dogs instead of having to be on an alternative plan. These dogs do not get to have public access and there is no actual registered certification for any dog unless you were to get a note from a doctor.
These dogs are trained to perform specific tasks to help their handlers.
These dogs also do not have an actual certification. There is an ADA registration for the rights of Service Dogs. Most dogs that are true service dogs are bred to be service dogs. There are programs where they evaluate puppies from 4 weeks old to pick candidates for service dogs. They cannot be anxious, reactive, aggressive. They need to have the right temperament and the right drive to work! These dogs do have public access but should only be in public if they can behave.
Task Orientated - These service dogs are trained for people who cannot bend over, open the door, turn on the lights and struggle in their day to day life.
Mobility - These dogs are for people who might have medical issues that affect how they can walk, falling over unexpectedly or not having the strength to always hold them up. Not every dog can be this, there are actually charts on the weight of the person to be matched with a weight-fitted dog.
Medical Alert Dogs - These service dogs alert for diabetes, heart issues, panic attacks or severe health issues. There is a great guy in Texas who trains these dogs and I would love to show anyone what he can do.
Guide Dogs - Dogs who can lead people who are legally blind. These dogs have to be able to have some type of independence and disobedience. They need to be able to make the right call if you are telling them to 'heel' but there is a safety hazard. The dog should know to 'disobey' the command and to not put their handler in danger.
POLICE DOGS / MILITARY WORKING DOGS (MWD):
Really these and military dogs are a different breed. These dogs thrive off of work. The reward for them is to work. These dogs are also handed from handler to handler, there are many people that retire and their dog is still working so they will stay in the unit to be handed off to a different handler. These dogs are trained somewhere else and shipped to different units. A lot of them come from overseas. Most handlers have to attend a 2-3 week camp to become certified handlers WITH their dogs. The dogs already know how to do it, but the handler has to know, too!
Narcotics - Really this is just a type of detection. Many dogs are trained on more than one scent and some units who have many dogs will train their dog to just a few scents. To have a detection dog in the unit you have to meet standards of training and logging hours.
Apprehension - Police dogs are trained to bite dangerous suspects and hold them at the place. In many situations, they are the first ones to put their lives on the line and go in against an armed suspect to protect their human partner. That said, they must be stable dogs, with the ability to know when someone is a threat and to act solely on the command of their handlers.
These are used everywhere! If you can think of it, they probably already have a detection dog on it. They have started cancer detection dogs, hunting for truffles dogs, wildlife biology and of course law enforcement. Really it is endless what you can detect.
There are so many other types of working dogs. These are just popular ones you hear about lately.
Are you a fan of The Office? Say hello to Dwight! According to his humans he has a dry sense of humor if a dog can have one and he's "super chill." Dwight demonstrated that beautifully during his session. He also had three wardrobe changes and he rocked each and every one. :O)
Dwight can not hear, but that doesn't stop him from one of his favorite activities-watching tv. He's not shy and is always excited to meet other people. His mood changes when his humans are both with him, and he loves watching his dog mom work.
As far as hobbies go, Dwight is a leaf and stick collector. When he goes for a walk he always brings home a new stick and has them safely stored in a pile outside. (Take a guess what we used instead of noises to get his attention at the session. wink, wink)
We introduced Dwight to something new during his session...bubbles! And, oh my goodness he went for them with everything he had. (I know what the Easter bunny will be bringing Dwight next year!)
Dwight is not even a year old yet and he's eager to explore and learn everything he can. Enjoy the rest of the Fall season Dwight and I hope Winter is just a fun for you!
These three fur-balls are all heart and they bring so much joy and fun to their humans' lives. Don't be fooled though; what one dog doesn't think of the others will and they are involved in just as many hi-jinx as the next dog family. They are also so very loved.... and they know it. ;O)
During their session, Shiloh, Little & Moose showed off tricks, played with bubbles, ran through the leaves and even struck a pose every once in awhile.
It was obvious that these three love being around their humans, but they are also adventurous and ready for fun. Through it all, Moose was curious yet polite, Shilo was on alert for possible threats to the session (i.e. squirrels and other varmints), and Little never let on for one second that she wasn't in charge and running the show. And, did I mention hi-jinx?!
By the end of the session, we were all worn out. It's just another perk I offer for pet parents. ha!
As we were leaving we noticed a dog who was enjoying the park, but it was obvious that she forgot to bring her owner with her. So, while Brittany and I waited with the pups, Shelby took care to make sure that the dog was in safe hands, posted her on Sioux Falls Lost Pets Facebook page and we all crossed our fingers that her owner would be found. By the next morning I had a text from Shelby telling me that all was well. I soooo love dog people. :O)
What you do for one you need to do for the others. So, since we had so much fun with Tex in the water a couple of weeks ago, we made sure that his siblings got to have a great time, too.
This session was a little extra fun for me to go through the images because it included four very different personalities all in the same place. When trying to get one good family photo, no matter what the others were doing, Blu was ready. (Blu, you're so awesome.) If a duck flew over (and they did - several times), TEX was all business. ha! Lola just loved to smile and dash ahead wherever we were going, and Ray was a typical puppy who explored every inch of his surroundings (and looked cute of course).
There is lots of play time and lots of fun for these four, but when mom says, "look"... all eyes are on her.
We hiked, played with bubbles, watched ducks fly by, explored the "grassy jungle" and some, well, couldn't help themself. (Yes, they are adorable, but look at Tex!)
I always have a great time photographing sessions, and even though it's a bit more work with multiple dogs it's always that much more fun. Thank you for "that much more fun" you guys. :O)
This was a session I was really looking forward to! I love working dogs and have wanted to photograph one "at work" for a long time now. When Sami told me that she wanted to do a session, BUT she wanted me to photograph her dog hunting, I couldn't say yes fast enough.
Tex is a duck hunter so that meant we were going to be in the water. I borrowed some waders (thanks Greg!) and they only leaked on one side! (Thanks, Greg.) It didn't matter because I was having as much fun as Tex was!
Tex did some training while we were out there, too and I learned things like, one- how he learns to follow signals that lead him to where his owner wants him to go, and two, what a dog looks like when he's peeing in the water. ha!
Seriously though, this dog can be the biggest muppet out there, but when he's working he's all business. Look at that determination!
Tex is a hard worker and you can see the pride in him when he knows he's done well. It's quite humbling to watch a dog who is so in tune with his owner both as a friend and as a partner. The hard work put in by both does not go un-noticed, and it is very, very cool to witness.
** No ducks were harmed in the making of this session. ;O)
There are several ways in which we bring a pet into our family. Some purchase a puppy from a breeder, or buy from someone who's advertising that their dog has had a litter. Others get their pet by adopting from a shelter, a rescue or even from a flyer on a bulletin board. Even though discussions can get heated over how we obtain our pets, I really do feel like there is no right or wrong way.
For me, the decision to "shop" or "adopt" is actually determined by what my reason was for getting a new pet in the first place. If I were looking for a dog for a specific purpose like training a show dog, a dog for search and rescue, or a hunting dog, then I would probably look at reputable breeders for those specifications. If I were looking for a companion to hang out with at home and didn't have anything specific that I wanted from the dog except to love on and to be part of the family, then I would most likely adopt. This is not to say that adopted dogs can't be great hunting, service, or even show dogs. It's just more plausible if those dogs were raised and trained to perform from the very beginning. Likewise, this is not to say that all dogs from a breeder are going to meet your expectations either. If you're thinking about a breeder you need to do your research on the breed you're considering AND you need to research your breeder. There are some very responsible breeders, but like in every industry there are also those who do not exactly meet the standards that they represent.
Every dog that has joined our family has been acquired differently from the others. Our first dog I found in the newspaper. Bangle was half boxer and half Siberian husky. My reason for getting her was companionship as I was newly married to an Air Force pilot who was gone a lot. (Remember paper scrapbooking? They said it was perfectly ok to cut up your pictures! eek!)
The next two were litter mates that Santa got from a box on a sidewalk in the neighborhood. He brought them to our twin boys because he wanted them each to have a puppy of their own. (I do NOT recommend this type of reasoning/justification/insanity for getting multiple dogs at once!) Christmas Carol and Sandman were pointers with more energy than my 3 boys combined!
After a few years of having reptiles for pets my boys started asking for a dog again. It was then that I actually did some research and was able to at least settled on a breed that I thought would be good for our active family and military life. Zoe was a border collie that we got from a working farm in the Shenandoah Valley. Her parents were registered dogs and they were responsible for the cattle on the farm. As Zoe grew she did not disappoint as she spent her whole life keeping track of our kids as well as the school kids in the back field once we moved to our home in Sioux Falls.
Hermes (little white rat dog) was a gift to my youngest when his life was turned inside out as his older brothers and all their friends left for collage (and his dad deployed) leaving an always full house with just the two of us. Looking only for companionship, I found Hermes online from a goggle search for a small dog. He was and always has been a perfect fit in our home.
Dash was not planned. (I guess you could say he was a happy accident. ha!) A woman who saw Hermes on a weekly basis at doggie day care emailed me a Craig's List link and said, "I thought of you and Hermes when I saw this little guy." (That's how all great love stories start out, right?) I classify Dash as a hand-me-down dog as we are his 4th (and forever) home.
It seems to be socially acceptable these days to criticize others for how they obtained their pet. I think people lose site of the dog when they do this. In order to find the right pet for our family, our lifestyle, our needs, and our personality, we need to do some research before we make them a part of our life. Research breeds and research breeders. It's only fair to the animal after all as they really don't get much of a say in the matter.