This week's theme for the 52 Weeks Blog Circle is "rule of thirds." Photographers all know this phrase and know that it's a rule that they're suppose to follow when creating an image. Basically, if you divide your image into thirds, your subject should fall on one of the two dividing lines. Well, although an image might turn out this way, I might be considered a rule breaker. I photograph stories I want to tell and the composition is whatever tells that story best or whatever is most pleasing to me.
Some of you may know I work with Dogs On Deployment, an organization that helps military pet owners find boarders willing to watch their pets while they're deployed or on assignment. We recently had a contest for Military Pet Of the Year and not only did I learn about so many prize worthy pets, but I also learned about some wonderful businesses who donated products to our winners.
One of these businesses is Bowser Beer . They donated custom label bottles of dog brew to our top 3 dogs and sent me a sample as well. I'm so impressed with this company and their products. They even have pretzels to go with the beer, "cigar" treats, and gift sets for that hard to buy for canine friend. (You should check them out.)
I took some product pictures, and paid special attention to placement.
First, I wanted the focus to be on the labels so I zoomed in and took this picture showcasing our top 3 dogs from the competition. (They even gave them their own brew names!)
There are 3 bottles here, but this does not show the rules of thirds. This image is centered.
Then, I took a picture of the bottles along with Hermes' bowl and some treats just to make sure the viewer knows that Bowser Beer is for dogs (because even though it says "non-alcoholic treat for dogs," right on the label, well..... you know). ;O)
Even though this image is centered, the bottles are what people will notice first. Partly because they are the most colorful, and partly because since we read from left to right, our eyes tend to scan pictures from left to right seeing the bottles first. However, this does demonstrate the rule of thirds with that 2nd bottle being very close to one of the rule's dividing lines.
Lastly, I wanted to get a picture with Hermes included (because he's a dog and all). This is where I purposefully chose to incorporate the "rule of thirds" for my image. I put the bottles over on the dividing line and placed Hermes in back a little out of focus so that he would be an element that tells more of the story rather than a distraction from the Bowser Beer bottles. (He looks a little jealous of the other dogs' labels.) ;O)
In my opinion, rules in art are made for learning. Once you know why the rule is there, it's up to you if you want to follow it or not. (I sound like such a rebel!)
I hope you have a wonderful weekend! And, if you'd like to hear what other's have to say about the rule of thirds, start with Rachel with Touched By A Dog Photography, specializing in fine art dog photography in the greater Spokane, WA area.
When the weather is nice like it has been lately, I really enjoy walking around downtown. So many fun shops on both sides of the street and I always notice tons of smiles on Phillips Ave.
Jenna Aukerman is co-owner of Coffea Roasterie and I met up with her, her husband, Bryan and their black lab, Bacchus to chat about her pet-friendly business. In answering the questions I had about her business, Jenna also shed some light on why downtown people look so relaxed and happy when you walk by (it's like she read my mind).
Jenna explains how downtown has more of a "live, work, play" vibe to it. There is a residential feel to downtown with dogs and owners being a big part of it. She says making Coffea a dog-friendly business was a natural inclusion.
As is true with many pet friendly businesses, there are regulars who visit Coffea while out with their owners. Jenna and Bryan lit up when they started telling me about the dogs who frequent Coffea... a spaniel, a rescued greyhound and Aria, the husky. (It makes me want to just hang out sipping on lattes until I meet them all!)
I asked Jenna if she thinks that being dog-friendly has helped her business, and she said she feels that it has. She reiterated how the downtown atmosphere has a different dynamic. People live their lives downtown; they don't have to drive to go somewhere entertaining. People who live downtown, walk their dogs, pop in for a coffee and read a book or visit with friends. It's a place of leisure, and it's a benefit to get to take your canine friend with you. From the standpoint of the customer, Bryan adds that it just adds to the relaxing atmosphere when you walk into a place like Coffea and see a dog lying near their owner.
Saving my favorite question for last, I asked Jenna, "If Bacchus were to come into Coffea for a drink, what would he order?" She said, "If he could melt butter and drink it, he would. (Ha!) Creamy and caloric make the best treats. But, from the menu options Bacchus would probably choose a Con Panna." Espresso Con Panna is a shot of espresso topped with lots of whipped cream. I love the visual of Bacchus taking a sip (ok, slurp), then raising his head to look at me with whipped cream everywhere. (My camera's ready, Bacchus!)
Bacchus was such a gentleman during my interview with Jenna. He sat with us and let me know that he could smell treats in my camera bag, but he still greeted customers who sat down next to us if he felt that they were "pet friendly." He loves to hike, run, swim, and bike with Jenna, but he seemed to enjoy relaxing in Coffea just as much as the next guy. I'm told that Bacchus will snatch his fair share of spilled coffee beans, too. (Jenna says that on those days they work in an extra run.) ;)
"Creating community is part of Coffea's mission, and being dog-friendly helps do that." So, the next time you're downtown with your four legged companion, you know that you are both welcome in Coffea. (And, Bacchus told me that there are Milkbones and water bowls, so if you don't see them, just ask).
Do you follow Coffea Roasterie on Facebook? You might want to give them a 'like" so that you don't miss out on all the fun. Besides offering espresso milkshakes (who knew?!) they also host classes! You can learn from the pros about how to make homemade syrups, everything you've always wanted to know about tea, and even how to pour latte art! Enjoy!
When walking down Phillips Ave in Sioux Falls, there are always lots of signs on the shop windows encouraging people to experience the culture that is so prevalent in our town. These days you might see another sign on some of the windows, one that says, "Dog Friendly."
One such business is PRIMP Boutique. An adorable "cheap, chic, boutique," this store is very inviting to women looking for fun clothing and equally welcoming to the canine companion.
PRIMP Boutique has always been a dog-friendly business. Founded in 2010, Charlie is known as Primp's first employee. There is a shelf in the Sioux Falls store that boasts a jar of dog treats and it is beautifully complimented by a framed picture of Charlie. Charlie also has a line named after him! Charlie Moss. I think that name could easily shine amongst top designers.
Andrea Greve is the manager of the Phillips Ave boutique and she says that although there are a lot of dogs who visit, there have been some regulars who have become good friends. Teddy was a very friendly "downtown dog," who use to come in every morning to say hello and get a treat. Jackson is another friendly face who comes in on Saturday mornings with a smile and a wag of his tail. Andrea says she loves getting to know the dogs and it makes her day every time one drops by to say hello.
Murphie Jane is Andrea's dog and today I got a chance to meet her at the store. What a beautiful girl, and so well mannered! Besides coming to PRIMP Boutique with her mom, Murphie likes to snuggle on the couch, watch out the window for the neighborhood squirrels, and go for car rides. Murphie also has a couple of boy friends that she likes to hang out with (four of them! but, who's counting.) Andrea says that being such a social dog, when Murphie Jane goes to the dog park she's more interested in the humans than the other dogs. (Good girl, Murphie. No need to make the guys any more jealous than they already are.)
I asked Andrea, 'If Murphie were to come into the store, what do you think she would be looking to buy?' The answer seemed quite easy for Andrea... "Murphie gets excited about warm blankets when they come out of the dryer, so she would probably be looking for anything that is soft and cozy and fuzzy." In other words she would love PRIMP's popular "comfort sweater." I think that's a very good choice, Murphie. ;)
The next time you are out enjoying downtown with your dog, stop by and say hello to the ladies in Primp Boutique. The dog treat jar is always full and you might just find a treat for yourself as well.
I encourage you to take a look at the PRIMP Boutique Facebook page and hit the like button if you are so inclined. They are always showing fun things from their store and they are very active in giving back to the community through hosted events. AND, they love dogs! I'm so very impressed with these ladies!
When picking up Hermes from doggie day care one afternoon, I saw the cutest doggie treats on the counter. When I asked about them, I found out that they were made right here in Sioux Falls! I've now met the artist and learned more about these treats, and I wanted to share with you guys.
Melissa Black says that after her husband's birthday present of two adorable puppies, she started noticing all the products coming out that make having pets even more fun (if that's even possible!). There are lots of new toys, and home and auto pet products that make living and traveling with a pet easier, but she thinks there's a lack of healthy alternatives when it comes to dog treats.
Melissa works for the Avera Institute for Human Genetics, and says she's a "scientist by nature" and never thought she had a creative side. But, she decided that just like we try and choose healthy options for our family, there should be healthy options for dog treats as well (and her's are so fun!).
Melissa named her business, Paws & Enjoy Gourmet Dog Treat Bakery and it's very fitting for her adorable treats. The gourmet treats are all natural with no artificial preservatives. They are made with quality human-grade organic, non-gmo ingredients. She even makes her own homemade chicken broth and a special frosting for dogs that doesn't contain lots of sugar. She jokes that if her family were in a position where they were snowed in for very long, that they would probably be just fine with their supply of dog treats. ;) The treats are made with healthy whole wheat flour, but Melissa is working with a local dog nutritionist and hopes to add a grain free option to her gourmet line next.
Five different flavors have been perfected so far at Paws & Enjoy. Every treat is packed with nutrients, but the dogs don't have to know that. All they care about is that they smell bacon! Or peanut butter!
There are different sized treats for all walks of dogs and the fun designs are endless. Each holiday has themed cookies and baskets, and Melissa designs new, whimsical treats monthly. My favorite so far... one of her woodland critters, the squirrel! :D
Melissa's bakery is in her kitchen. She has a duel oven with extra racks and a dehydrator, but says that she may soon have to convert her garage to support a larger oven.
Part of quality control is conducted in-home by her two puppies, Bandit and Bella and her grand-dog, Dallas. (It's very important that she has a mix of little dog and big dog opinions). Melissa's dogs have access to the treats on a regular basis so she has to help with distribution. She says they know when she is baking treats versus when she is cooking dinner and they sit patiently on the kitchen mat for her to give them a small taste. They sometimes even get to lick the spoon after all the mixing is done! (I don't know about you, but this sounds like a pretty cushy job to me.)
When I asked Melissa what she has planned for the future of her business she told me that she's excited to see where it takes her. She loves having a booth at craft fairs and fantasizes about getting an RV, taking the pups, and traveling around to all the fun fairs around the country. She would also like to open a shop outside of her home one day. For now, you can find her gourmet dog treats at local pet businesses such as Precious Pets, Mini-Critters, and Earthwise in Sioux Falls, and at Get Pinned in Mitchell and Alley Cat in Dell Rapids. You'll most likely find her at the craft fairs that will be popping up this summer, and of course you can always order on-line, too!
You can learn more about Melissa's local business at Paws & Enjoy Gourmet Dog Treat Bakery and if you are on Facebook give her page a like!