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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

chloe swims!

We took last week off for a cottage vacation in the beautiful Muskoka region of Ontario. The change of scenery and tranquility were refreshing, but unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate. The chilly temperatures prevented us from taking full advantage of the lake and kept us out of the water ... well, almost all of us.

Chloe's obsession with water rivals her passion for ball ... she was in the lake constantly and we had to deal with seven days of wet dog smell! She loves to splash the water and bite at it — she could do this for HOURS.

By the time we left, the beautiful natural shoreline wasn't so beautiful ... Chloe left no lily pad untouched!

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

custom photo books | products

I'm excited to share that I'm now offering amazing products for clients! I did A LOT of research — I looked into various professional labs and got test prints done to make sure they were of the highest quality. Then I decided which products I wanted to offer — I wanted to make sure the items I chose were interesting, varied and really showcased the images. Of course I had to order samples of each product — how can I offer something that I haven't seen myself? I can say that everything I've received is amazing. The quality is top-notch and each product is a piece of art that I'm proud is coming out of the Happy Tails studio.

First I'm going to share my photo books. I LOVE photo books. They are the best option to display a variety of images and if designed well, they can really tell a story. I design each book from scratch so they are completely customized for each session. The front and back covers, even the spine is completely custom, so no detail is left out.   
Black front and end pages speak to the upscale quality of these books.
I offer solid hardcover books printed on heavyweight, hinged, semi-gloss paper. The hinged paper allows open pages to lay flat, which means there is no middle gutter for images to get lost in — each one is on full display in all its tail-wagging glory!
I prefer an uncluttered look, so each photo can really be appreciated. And look at the amazing full-spread images! As I mentioned above, the paper is thicker than your average photo book for added durability. This means your book will still be in great shape after many, many flips through it.
The printing quality really is stunning. Just look at Elly's eyes — hello gorgeous! So life-like.
I'm currently offering these photo books in 8x8, 10x10 and 12x12 sizes. I hope they provide clients with years of happy memories!

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

post-processing: now you see it, now you don't

Ah, custom photography. You love the final product but wonder why the price seems so much higher than if you just took a few shots yourself and developed them at the local Wal-Mart. I once wondered that myself until I got into the actual business of photography. After advertising and marketing, booking clients, scheduling photo shoots (and rescheduling due to weather), travelling to the location, and actually taking the photos, my job is only half done. Yep. Still lots of work to do.

Here's an example of what comes next, during the post-processing phase. You might remember this photo I took of Chloe during our evening walk. The one on the left is straight out of camera with nary a tweak — I actually feel kind of naked showing it! The one on the right is after post-processing.
I use a combination of Lightroom and Photoshop to edit my photos. Sometimes it's just a matter of removing some eye gunk or doing some light retouching. Sometimes it can be quite meticulous and time consuming to get the exact look that I'm after. I'm pretty nit-picky, so I generally spend quite a bit of time on each photo.

The original photo of Chloe had several things going for it. I liked the composition with the tall grass on the left and the path down low fading off to the right. I liked that she's making eye contact with me and isn't sporting a goofy expression (this is pretty rare for Chloe!). And the direction of that warm evening light was quite lovely — you can see it softly hitting her left side. The photo just needed some "zing," so I brightened it up, added some warmth and contrast, and removed the leash, which she had so thoughtfully dragged through a mud puddle only moments before. I left her slimy tennis ball in the final image because it speaks to her personality — she doesn't go anywhere without it. Can you spot it?

Hopefully that explains some of the reasoning behind the price of custom photography and the work that goes into it behind the scenes. It really is an investment. But a worthwhile one I think. What are your thoughts?

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Friday, August 12, 2011

chloe's big day

Yesterday was Chloe's birthday - she turned six! I've had a few people ask how she celebrated. Well, she received lots of pets, an extra-long after dinner walk and a special treat. But mostly she celebrated the day away doing this:
Yep, she snoozed on the couch. Being a new mom to a nine-month-old, I can totally see how this would be appealing. I might celebrate my next birthday napping!
Even a fancy birthday treat didn't rouse her from her slumber.
After sleeping beauty got her required eight hours of daytime sleep, we tried giving her the dog cookie again. This time there was a little more interest!

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

happy birthday chloe!

Today Chloe turns six (although she doesn't act a day over two!). It feels like she's been in our lives forever, but she only became part of our family two years ago when we adopted her from a family that could no longer care for her. We still can't believe how lucky we are. We are actually her third family – it's hard to imagine, but she has been given up twice. Once as a puppy, then again when she came to us at the age of four. We are NEVER giving this monkey up. She is the sweetest, most loyal and exuberant creature, and she truly makes our house a home. Plus, she's super cute.
Chloe is obsessed with tennis balls. So, yesterday we went out for a walk with her trusty "Wilson." It was early evening and I was hoping to get some photos of my Golden during "golden hour" — that time in the evening when the light is warm and magical. But the clouds rolled in making the skies a little overcast. Parts of the path were still pretty though.
Of course, there were lots of things to explore along the way. There were bugs to sniff ...
And grass to eat.
Occasionally she would stop for a few seconds to let me take a picture.
We love you Chloe — happy birthday! Stay tuned to see how Chloe spent her big day!

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I was recently reminded of the good work provided by local shelters and humane societies. While shooting photos for my local shelter, a couple brought in a box of day-old kittens they found abandoned in a field. The shelter volunteers immediately took the tiny creatures in and within minutes everyone had a kitten in hand and was bottle-feeding them. I am sure that once they are big enough, each one of these kittens will find a loving home. Here's a quick shot from the day — cute overload!

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