I've often toyed with the idea of moving into a studio with my photography. The people and dogs coming to me? That's a great idea, that would make my shoots a breeze? My shoot days consist of quite a bit of driving; hauling my camera bag and other equipment which weighs a ton into my xterra, my poor back and shoulders. I face the wonderful Southern California traffic; drive turtle speed down the destination road trying to locate the particular house and then hoist my equipment once again. In the house I do my canine greeting first, as the dog is normally the first one in my face, unless of course they are the shy type, then I really have my work cut out for me. I say hi to the owner and get back on the floor to get to know my subject a little bit more.
Once I feel that I know who I'm shooting we move onto the a tour of the house, yard or park as I scan for those perfect spots to shoot. The entire time I'm asking what my model likes to do, where is their favorite chair, do they know how to stay? These are all important, I want to get a good shot, one that best portrays the dog as their owner knows them. Once I find a few great spots to shoot I set up my camera. My camera bag is a backpack type, being that many of my shoots are at the beach or a park, wheels wouldn't work so well. So, my camera is set up and we are set to shoot.
Depending on how the dog feels about being starred at by a giant black eye let's me know if I need to switch to my big zoom lens or not. Many dogs are not comfortable with me all up in their face which means I won't be getting a great shot until I move away. So I switch out the lens and start again. The dog starts to relax but keeps an eye on me, I start to get some great shots. Then I start my happy talk; we're just warming up (oh at this point the owner is usually laughing at me.) But the important thing is that the dog is happy and relax, I'm shooting away.
My shoots are easy, fun and relaxed, the way that they should be. The dog is asked to lay on their favorite sofa, bed and owners bed for the shoot. Then asked to go out and play a bit, perhaps roll around in the shade, sounds rough eh? All this in an attempt to get "the shot." For me the shot may not be what the owner thinks "the shot" is so there are literally hundreds taken.
But it never fails, it is almost always one of the last shots that is "the" shot. It makes sense, we've spent at least an hour together and the dog is nice and relaxed with my presence. If we are in a park surrounding, the dogs ya ya's are just about gone. Many times it's been the very last shot, although sometimes it is the very first, right out of the shoot shot that is "the" one.
I was recently looking at some shots of dogs in a studio, imagine how easy it would be, dog on the table, camera on a tripod. But the dogs face was not relaxed, the dog was not relaxed, the dog was not going to offer "the shot." I'll stick to dealing with the traffic, hauling my equipment, crawling around yards, dirt, sand, parks and homes and keep doting on my models. After all it is all about them. It's my job to get the shot, and I love it.