The months of June through August are usually a time when people are hanging out together at summer events. Families gather at the lake and friends hang out downtown. This year is a bit different. We see smaller groups at the local parks in lawn chairs, 6 feet apart doing their best to observe social distancing while still staying connected.
During the past few months I've been able to document dogs with their family from a distance while the images never let on that anything has changed in our world.
I met Vinnie four years ago at the Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Chihuahua Fashion Show. He was all decked out in his poncho and tiny sombrero and was just so adorable.
This time I got to hang out with Vinnie and his big personality (and even bigger heart when he looks at his dog mom) while we all had a nice evening at the park.
Vinnie's mom describes him as a "feisty old man." He likes to go after squirrels, rabbits, and bigger dogs! This tiny little guy loves to go for walks, but they need to be long walks... and ok, car rides will work, too. ;O)
He loves McDonald's fries, and going for coffee with mom is a favorite for Vinnie as he gets his own cup of cream from the barista. He might be a bit spoiled when he stays at Grand-paw's, too, but then that's what grandparents are for right?
It was a different kind of summer this year, but I don't think Vinnie even noticed. He got to hang out with his favorite people, and a picnic at the park is always a fun treat.
Ever wonder what the world looks like from the vantage point of a dog? It's no wonder tiny dogs like to be carried around. They get to play king of the mountain without breaking a sweat!
Enjoy the rest of your summer Vinnie. And, good luck with your Cinco de Mayo fashion career!
This post is part of a circle blog. If you'd like to see the summer fun had by other pet photographers start with Nicole Hrustyk of Pawtraits by Nicole serving the Las Vegas, Nevada area.
I went downtown to The Falls with a friend and her golden, Denver. While we were walking around (and I was noticing all the changes since I'd last been there!) I remembered that there was going to be a blog circle with the prompt, "dogs on rocks." Well, I had the perfect model right next to me and LOTS of rocks. Denver was not only gracious with his time, he also put up with me saying, "Last one Denver, I promise" while only a couple of minutes later hearing, "Denver, can we do just one more?"
Denver looks soooo very handsome in green, don't you think?!
He posed amongst the rocks for me...
He posed beside the rocks...
Then, he posed on top of the rocks. Isn't he just so handsome?!! (You should see this image big! ...swoon)
Thank you for being such a great model, Denver. Take a bow because you rock! ;O)
This post is part of a blog circle of pet photographers. To see what others did with the rock theme start with Elaine Tweedy of I Got the Shot Photography, "rockin" pet photos since 2012 in Northeastern PA and surrounding areas.
Since Grace was released from commercial breeding she has been getting healthy and enjoying the life every dog should know with a wonderful foster family. She's a beautiful black merle Great Dane and she's in need of a family to call her own.
To try and help let people know that Grace is searching for her forever family, we wanted to get some pictures of her that would show not only her gorgeous physical traits, but how beautiful she is on the inside as well.
We took some pictures first in her open backyard and then on the deck and I felt pleased with what we got. Then we moved to the front yard where there was more color and those images won out over the others. The flowers helped show Grace's softer side (since she's such a big girl). Just having the flowers in the frame with her helps to show that this XL dog is meant for family more than a lot of other large breeds who's job is more of that of a guard dog.
If you want images that have a sense of calm to them, bring in some flowers. Not only will they brighten the scene, the color will brighten the viewers day, too. It always does mine. ;O)
Grace is available for adoption through B-Squad Dog Rescue in Brandon, SD.
If you'd like to see what others have blooming in their area, start with Pet Love Photography and continue around the blog circle.
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)