Good morning; I was recently asked to blog about my canine photography. Just to let you all know, I really enjoy receiving requests from readers. As I've said before, I often get bloggers block and sit looking at the empty page with no inspiration. If I don't have something pressing that I want to discuss on a certain page I will always write on a requested topic, so here you go.
My love of photography started at a very early age. The only thing that I can ever remember wanting to be "when I grow up," was a photographer. Having the good fortune of meeting a great dog person early on in my life I was in the thick of it from the age of 13. After being a professional dog trainer for over 10 years I got my hands on a camera and the rest is history. I immediately knew that "this" (photography) is what I wanted to do; as well as my dog training. Capturing canines through photography was an instant passion; it enabled me to see what you might never notice if not instantly captured. A look, an emotion, a reaction, action etc.
Once I got some experience under my belt and some amazing images I started contacting the big dog magazines. One of my very first published images was the cover of Off Lead. Shown below this image was shot at a dog park and is full of communication and expression between the two. Action is probably my favorite aspect of capturing the essence of a canine.
After my first cover I was bitten by the "published" bug; I loved having my images on dog magazine covers. I got to work right away filling my stock and contacting more publishers. Since those early days I have had so many covers and inside shots published; it was an exciting time.
After the initial excitement of being published I wanted more. I started doing private shoots for those wanted to capture their canines in a beautiful portrait. I have to say it was a strange sensation at first; meeting a dog and their owner and not working on behavior. As a long time dog trainer I am constantly watching interactions for insight into problem issues and behaviors. It took a while to hang up my trainer vest at the door when I entered a "shoot" home and not a training home.
Music to my ears is when an owner says to me "you totally captured my dog." I have done several shoots now for people who's dogs have passed since their shoot. Getting an email or call telling me how much more they appreciate having their images now that their best friend is gone gives me a special feeling. I feel so lucky to be able to meet each dog that I shoot and their owners. In my eyes, dogs are art all on their own; being able to capture each one's individual amazingness is pretty amazing itself. I love it.
The noble canine
This was taken several years ago and is still one of my all time favorite images.
Having an extensive canine behavior background has made the job of shooting jobs so much easier for me. I can't imagine those who try to shoot dogs not knowing about dog behavior. It can be more than a challenge to get a good shot and patience beyond belief. Yesterday I wrote about my lack of patience for waiting around; this is where my patience is at it's best. Either in my training or photographing; for dogs I have never ending patience. Often a client will become flustered at their dog's behavior; especially if they know I am also a trainer. They grow increasingly embarrassed as their dog acts..........well, like a dog. I always assure them that I am in no rush, just chill and we'll get the shot.
Not only do I work with dogs but I also work with their owners and when doing a shoot it is all about what the owner is looking for. We sit and chat about what they want me to capture, what to them is special about their dog. It doesn't take me long to get a feel for a dog and it is the images that I want to capture that often turn out to be the ones that the owner loves. Posed images are not something that I enjoy doing; they are essential sometimes when I have to get a particular shot but it is the candid shots that shine. Like the one above and the one below, life as it unfolds is what makes me tick.
This image best exhibits our (my son, our dogs and me) adventure across America.
I have had a big break now in my work with my recent move and it is time to get back at it. There are new things around the corner for Just dogs with Sherri and as they unfold I will share them with you all. For now I will keep shooting, training, cooking and baking for dogs, it's all for the dogs.