People sometimes ask, "Do you have a favorite place that you like to photograph dogs?" My answer is, yes!
Think about this... If your high school senior is active in debate club and wants to study law, creating senior pictures for them on the football field wouldn't say much about their personality. In fact, it would be a little confusing to look at. Likewise, if your senior is goth, senior pictures taken in a botanical garden wouldn't let their unique personality shine like a more industrial setting or even wooded area would.
These examples show that sessions need to represent the subject and not just be at a location simply because the photographer likes to shoot there.
With dogs, the location first needs to be safe. Second, it needs to compliment their personality. And, third it needs to be comfortable for them.
I did a photoshoot with Downtown Henry a few weeks ago at the Arc of Dreams. Henry is a downtown Sioux Falls dog and he's very comfortable there. If I had taken a dog who isn't use to the downtown area cars, shops, and all the people, there would have been all kinds of distractions as well as anxiety for that dog.
Before a session I always ask a ton of questions about the dog that I'm going to photograph. I also ask questions about things that they do with their pet parents. This helps so much with ideas for creating images, but also about where we might want to go for the session.
If a dog loves to hike with their owner, then I want to be out on the trails. The dog will give me their best self out there. If they're a dock diving dog, there is no place they'd rather be than on the dock (then in the water, then on the dock, then.....you get the idea.) Part of that session definitely needs to be at the dock.
I do have certain places that I think are great for larger dogs and a couple that are perfect for smaller breeds, but honestly, if you ask me,
"Do you have a favorite place to photograph dogs?"
I'm going to tell you
...with their human of course.
Dogs are happiest with their human, and the rest is icing on the cake.
This post is part of a blog circle so if you'd like to see what other pet photographers have to say about favorite locations start with Elaine Tweedy of I Got the Shot Photography, always sniffing out great locations in Northeastern PA and surrounding areas.
I am so thrilled to finally share this post with you guys!
Thank you to all who supported this fundraiser by scheduling a session! If you take COVID-19 out of the equation, it was a huge success! (That's three sentences with three exclamation marks. Can you tell I'm excited?)
The idea is to raise money for non-profits (who might not be on everyone's radar) through Pawsitivity Sessions. The money is raised through participants who pay a donation/fee to participate with their dog in the fundraiser photography session.
For this first fundraiser, the goal was to raise money to be given to Children's Inn and Mission Haiti to buy new shoes for the kids supported by their non-profits. And, with your help we did that!!! You guys helped put $1000 worth of shoes on kids' feet!
The World At Your Feet fundraiser was the first of the Pawsitivity campaigns. Each year there will be something different planned with different non-profits benefiting. I have a list of ideas and I'm very excited about each of them. If time allows for a second fundraiser during the year then I might just do another World At Your Feet themed session as so many have asked when they can sign up for the next one. (Thank you for that; it makes my heart happy.)
Here are a few images from the sessions. I so enjoyed meeting so many of you and learning about the non-profits you volunteer and work for. Of course the bonus was I got to meet so many new dogs, too. ;O)
If you'd like to see more from these sessions take a look at the Pawsitivity Gallery.
To be on the exclusive invite list and receive advanced notice of Pawsitivity fundraiser sessions just go to the home page, scroll to the bottom, and you can sign up there. By doing so, you'll also receive a series of emails pertaining to classic sessions with me, but you can always unsubscribe at any time if that's not something that you're interested in at this time.
What? You haven't heard of dock diving??
It's only the coolest sport around for those hot summer months! When a sport involves you, your dog, toys, a huge pool and lots of hoots and hollers you know it's going to be fun!
After the first half of this year's shenanigans, I couldn't wait to see these dogs. My favorite is the beginner classes. Watching the dogs go from maaaaaybe sticking their paw in the water to full on diving off the dock is what summer is all about for me. I'm not a big fan of the heat so being where there's lots of splashing (and I mean LOTS of splashing sometimes) is a good end to the day.
Look at the pride on Cane's face! He just accomplished something huge - getting that toy out of the water! I think he's most proud of the fact that he did it without even getting wet!
This dog just learned that it's ok to actually get in the water to get her toy. Myra might not be the most graceful of swimmers yet, but she'll get there. (Did I mention there could be a LOT of splashing?!)
Watching these dogs is like watching a two year old. They're so very unsure, but they want so badly to please. Everyone is cheering for them (usually quite loudly) and they'll look up at the source of encouragement, then at their dog mom or dad, and then at the water again. You can see their brain going in all directions wanting to do it, but not knowing exactly how or not quite having the guts yet.
It took three lessons and constant encouragement from her pet parents, but Phoebe finally made it into the water. After that all she wanted to do was swim with her dog dad.
Once the dogs are confident in the water, they head to the dock. This is where the real fun begins. Talk about doggie thoughts firing in all directions. Once they've made that first jump though, they can't get enough.
As much as I love the classic jumps off the docks, for me it's the "behind the scenes" pictures. Even if they aren't technically up to standards as far as photography goes, I love the moments captured between the dog and those encouraging their progress. It makes my heart swim. ;O)
This is the second year that Paws Pet Resort has offered dock diving classes and they fill up fast, so check them out if you're interested. They also have Open Swim days for dogs who are just wanting to practice their skills, and Try It Days for those who just want to try out the dock.
The theme for this week's 52 Weeks blog circle is... you guessed it, water! See what seasonally refreshing stories other pet photographers have to share starting with Terri J Photography, photographing your pet in the Greater Toronto Area.
This summer will mark the one year anniversary of the Arc Of Dreams in Sioux Falls, SD. The downtown sculpture created by artist Dale Lamphere, is 70 feet tall and spans the length of a football field across the Big Sioux River. Modeling his art piece on the 6 ft midwest prairie grasses that bend in the wind, there is a space of about 15 feet in the middle where the two pieces almost touch. Through this space in the sculpture, Lamphere creates a reminder that,
...sometimes all it takes to make a dream come true is a "leap of faith."
I've always loved the sculpture walk that is showcased on Philips Ave every year, but I hadn't yet made it to see the Arc. When I decided on a whim to go last week, I was in awe of the enormity of the sculpture. As I walked along the river looking at the Arc from different angles, the only thing I could think was,
I need to get a dog down here for some pictures!!!
But, what kind of dog? Hermes and Dash are not the right look for this statue and their personalities are not quite right for it either.
I knew it would need to be a dog who is use to the downtown lifestyle complete with distractions. As soon as the thought entered my head I knew the dog for the job...
Meet Downtown Henry!
I first met Henry when he was taking dock diving classes at Paws Pet Resort last summer. The first day of class Henry was asking his dog dad why in the world those dogs were going in that pool, and why were they crazy enough to jump!!! By the end of the 4 weeks Henry was a star! After finally making his "leap of faith" off the dock, Henry showed up at the dock with his super cape in tow and the smiles went on for days!
In my mind, Henry was perfect for pictures at the Arc. Besides the fact that he's so darn cute, Henry is a downtown dog who loves his city and all that downtown has to offer a dog (even if he was once told that he was too loud for Josiah's). Through his diving journey, Henry took that leap of faith that the Arc of Dreams was created around (pardon the pun). Dogs will do that you know. There is really nothing that they won't do for the family they love.
I told you Henry was adorable. ;O) By the way, you can follow Downtown Henry on Instagram. Yep, he's got his own account!
If you're in Sioux Falls or plan to visit, make sure you take some time to visit the Arc. It does not disappoint.
Thanks for modeling for me, Henry! Those GQ dogs got nothin on you. ;O)
This was a "free for all" post for our pet photographer's blog circle, so feel free to circle around if you'd like. Start with Linda Perdue of VP Shoots Photography in Tampa, Florida.
Everything seems to be black and white these days. Until you get to the heart of it and then it's just gray. The carona virus (COVID 19) has changed everything and every day it's different... but the same.
In fact, every state is different, but the same. People either shelter in place or they don't. People wear masks, or they don't. People go to the store or order out, or they don't. Everything seems to be black or white. But, the thing is everyone is trying to find the "new normal" so everything seems to be more gray than anything.
The best we can do is do what's best for ourselves as far as mental well-being, and think of others whole-heartedly when we're out in our communities.
Our state is starting to slowly open back up. There are so many heated debates that it makes everything seem even more gray (if that's possible). But, I saw something on the internet and for me it added a hint of color to my day. I hope it does yours, too.
(From the internet):
JUST BE KIND
...None of us have the same circumstances (medically high risk child/ family member or a business about to go under, etc.) Let's all stay in our own lanes and keep the judgment down as we begin to reopen.
Just a thought... As governors are trying to figure out how to ease back into normal, please remember:
• Some people don’t agree with the state opening.... that’s okay. Be kind.
• Some people are still planning to stay home.... that’s okay. Be kind.
• Some are scared of getting the virus and a second wave happening....that’s okay. Be kind.
• Some are sighing with relief to go back to work knowing they may not lose their business or their homes....that’s okay. Be kind.
• Some are thankful they can finally have a surgery they have put off....that’s okay. Be kind.
• Some will be able to attend interviews after weeks without a job....that’s okay. Be kind.
• Some will wear masks for weeks....that’s okay. Be kind.
• Some people will rush out to get the hair or nails done.... that’s okay. Be kind.
The point is, everyone has different viewpoints/feelings and that’s okay. Be kind. We each have a different story. If you need to stay home, stay home. But be kind. If you need to go out, just respect others when in public and be kind! Don’t judge fellow humans because you’re not in their story. We all are in different mental states than we were months ago. So remember, be kind!
I hope we can see past the gray as we find our "new normal." And who knows, maybe some new colors will develop through all of this.
If you'd like to see more from other pet photographers on this week's black and white theme, trek around the blog circle with Angela and Bella of Noses & Toes Pet Photography in Spokane, WA, with the perfect spot for black and white dog photos.
Wishing all the dog moms a wonderful day!
Here are just a few of the special dogs and their dog moms that have helped color my world.
We all have lots of pictures on our phone and sometimes take pictures with a traditional camera. But, even with tons of images I have so many tell me that they just can't get good pictures of their dog.
I'm going to give you a few tips (that are quite simple really) that can improve the look of your images.
1. Turn off your flash.
Whether on a phone or using a camera, your flash will all too often give your dog alien eyes.
2. Make sure there is plenty of natural light.
If you try to photograph a dog in the middle of a bright sunny day they will almost always be half really, really bright and half really, really dark. This might not bother you too much, but sometimes it can ruin a good shot. The best time of day is early morning or an hour or so before sunset when the sun is lower in the sky. It's softer light, shadows aren't so harsh, and you won't have to worry as much about them squinting. Overcast days are actually really great for photographing dogs, especially black dogs. The light is very soft and there will be little to no shadows hiding your dogs beautiful features.
This first image was taken on a bright, sunny day. It's a nice enough image, but the shadows on the ground are very dark, there are lots of distracting bright spots in the background, there are bright spots in the fur on her face, and the colors and texture of her tutu are quite washed out.
This next image was taken on an overcast day. This little girl is evenly lit showing the true colors in her fur, you can distinguish people in the background, and there's lots of texture in her tutu.
3. Get down on their level!
This is the most important tip I can give you when it comes to animals (and toddlers, too for that matter). Your pictures will show them in the center of their world and you will love the results.
To do this you need to be physically on their level, eye to eye. For a big dog that means you need to squat down low. If you have a small dog, you're most likely going to have to get down on your belly.
If getting down on the ground is not physically an option for you don't worry, you'll still be able to achieve great eye to eye images. You can photograph them while they're elevated in some way. If your dog is on the couch, you can sit across from them and simply lean down to their level. If you're outside, you can photograph them sitting on a porch while you're on the ground or lower steps. As long as you're lower than they are, that's all that matters.
As with anything, practice makes perfect, or at least when you take lots of pictures you're bound to end up with a few winners. ;O)
"There's no way my dog would ever sit still for photos...."
This is the number one thing I hear from people who inquire about a pet session.
I'm going to let you in on a little secret. My dogs NEVER behave when I try to get photos of them. Part of the reason is because they're our dogs. Just like kids they usually know where our buttons are, and therefore feel the need to push them.
Here's another secret....
The majority of the dogs on my site are photographed with their owner at the other end of a leash. (Yep, the cat's out of the bag.) When it comes to your dog I believe in safety first. Most of the time leaving them on a leash is a no-brainer and best for all involved. No worries though, this photographer doesn't pay big bucks for photoshop just to have it sit there taking up space on her computer. When you see your final images, the leashes will have magically disappeared, and you too will amaze your friends with your dog's modeling abilities!
During sessions we don't always have the perfect weather or the perfect lighting so images need to be tweaked for color and brightness along with leash removals.
Sometimes there are other things in the image that need to come out as well just so things aren't so cluttered.
Then there are events. Event photos are so fast paced that sometimes the one shot of all 3 dogs looking in the same direction happens when mom and dad aren't quite ready.
I've never been a fan of using photoshop to alter reality. But, it's perfect for getting rid of leashes, eye boogers, doggy drool, and making those private parts a little more private when needed.
If you hadn't seen the original images, you might have said, "My dog would never sit still for pictures." Now you know... every dog can be a supermodel. ;O)
This is a post for the 52 Weeks blog circle of pet photographers. If you'd like to see more "before and afters," start with Pawtraits by Nicole serving Las Vegas, NV, and surrounding areas and click your way around the circle.
Isolation is a word we hear all day every day right now. But, as hard as it is on people, isolation is what makes my heart sing when I look through the camera.
Isolation is used in photography in a lot of different ways to bring attention to the subject of the image. The most common way to isolate is to create a very soft background behind the main subject of the image.
I love the look and it's perfect for portraits. But, during sessions I like to use a different technique for the majority of the shoot. I like to isolate the dog to tell the story from their own point of view.
For example, I would describe this first image as a lovely portrait of a "family and their dog."
But, I would describe this second image as a fun loving "dog and his family." This is what I love capturing during each session. The relationship between you and your dog as seen from their perspective.
During local events where there are lots of participants, I love being able to see things that others might miss. I'm able to photograph things in a crowd that happen so quickly that I always feel privileged to have seen them at all much less captured them.
This image is from 2018 at the last end of the season dog swim that I went to. There were so many participants that it was almost impossible to keep track of anyone much less photograph a dog through all the legs in the pool. Isolating this boy and his dog from the crowd shows how they might as well have been the only two in the pool. And, judging from the joy on their faces, they probably felt like they were.
This man was talking to a friend when I noticed his little pup in the middle of all the big dogs running around. Poor little guy doesn't exactly have the best poker face.
Although we may feel isolated (or a bit like this little pup) on and off during these uncertain times of crisis, keep in mind that it's only temporary. I wish you all lots of love, lots of snuggles with your dogs, and lots of snacks and netflix when you need them. ;O)
This is part of a blog circle so if you'd like to see how other photographers in the group isolate, start with Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography fetching portraits in Coppell and surrounding communities in the Dallas - Fort Worth metroplex.
Our world has gotten a little dull over the past month, but as Spring starts pushing up from the ground and shining overhead we'll all start seeing some color and I think it's going to help tremendously.
Our blog circle theme this week is color so I'm adding lots of it to this post. ;O)
During these days of trying to find a new normal, I suggest working with color. Be it painting a picture, painting a room, making a quilt (did I tell you I'm going to be a grandma?!!!) or adding a vase of flowers that you can see from your favorite chair, we need to add a little color to our lives. Jim Carey found during a time of heartache that color was what he needed. He started painting and never looked back. (Here's a 6-minute video I found interesting that he created about his obsession with painting.)
Moving so much with the military, I quickly learned that the fasted way to feel happy and at "home" was to paint the walls of our new place. Even if I had to paint them back to white when I left, I always made the walls that surrounded my family colorful, and sometimes even painting just one wall in a room would do the trick.
If you think you might want to brighten a room with more than just flowers, think of the colors that make you smile. My favorite color has always been lime green, (affectionately called Kermit green). If you're attracted to bright colors like I am that don't exactly lend themself to the walls of an entire room, then just get some fun bright couch pillows and a colorful lamp, or maybe some art for the wall, or even a rug or chair. It will change the whole look of your room and you'll enjoy spending time there. The idea is that you feel happy when you're in it. If it's a color you love, then I know you will.
So, what's your favorite color? A study a few years ago showed that the world's favorite color collectively is blue. What color is least liked? Men say pink and women say orange or brown.... #funfacts. ;O)
It's said that certain colors mean certain things and there is truth behind certain moods that are created by specific colors. However, I also believe (and I've seen this in in articles, too - although I can't for the life of me find one now), that colors bring up memories. If you see the colors of your favorite sports team, you might feel excited or ambitious. If you were big into Barbies as a kid, you might feel happy and secure when you see the color pink.
So, although the psychology of color can be fun to read about, I say go with what makes you feel good rather than what the charts say. Do something with the color that makes you feel happiest! Start a colorful project of some sort and have fun with it! (I'm off to look for a bright cheery jigsaw puzzle on-line!) ;O)
With this being a blog circle post, take a look at what other pet photographers have to say about color in their lives starting with Pet and Animal Photography presented by Shae Pepper Photography.