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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

maggie | milton ontario pet photographer

It goes without saying that I love animals and I love photography. But as I continue on this journey of pet photography, I'm discovering that another part of my job that I also really love is hearing each client's story — how their pet came into their life, how their life has changed because of it and what they love most about their pet. Each story is special, and each family's bond with their dog or cat is unique. I am truly honoured that I get to capture these stories.

This is Maggie. She is about 14 years old (she could be as old as 16!) and she is the sweetest little muppet.
Maggie was found lying on the side of the road by a policeman. She had a paralyzed front leg and her hair was so matted and dirty that she looked grey in colour. As fate would have it, she was brought to an emergency vet clinic where Erica was working for the summer. Despite Maggie's appearance, it was love at first sight. When no one claimed the little white stray with the sweet personality, Erica immediately adopted her, even though she was a university student at the time and Maggie's leg had to be amputated.

"I was convinced she was the cutest dog ever and was so shocked when other people didn't immediately feel the same," says Erica. "However, when I look back at early pictures of her — before her hair grew back in and before she had her leg amputated — I can understand their reaction."

That was more than 11 years ago, and Maggie has been Erica's constant companion ever since.

Erica says Maggie has forced her to become more outgoing because everyone they pass while out on their walks will stop her and ask why Maggie only has three legs. This minor detail,  or her senior status, doesn't slow her down one bit!
For this next shot I asked Maggie for a "tough and gritty, urban dog look."
There's a sports complex in the area with big blue letters out front that I've always wanted to incorporate into a shoot. Erica was up for it — I love it when my clients go along with my crazy ideas! 'M' is for Maggie, muffin, muppet, Miss M ... I had only known Maggie for about an hour at this point and I was already coming up with my own nicknames for her.
Erica told me at the beginning of our session that she doesn't like to have her photo taken (I hear this a lot!) but I still managed to get a few shots of her and Maggie together, which I think is so important. I'm so happy that she chose this last one to be printed — it's a great compliment and a decision I don't think she'll ever regret.

Thanks so much Erica for the lovely morning and for introducing me to Maggie, your small dog with big heart.


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Friday, April 20, 2012

The sky blues | southern ontario pet photographer

When I started Happy Tails, I didn't realize I would also be starting a relationship with the Weather Network. Like most relationships, it has its ups and downs, and I don't care to admit how many times my husband has caught me shaking my fist at the television, moaning "Why? Why?" or patting it approvingly and saying "Good job!" like it went outside to do its business for the first time.

Since most of my shoots occur outdoors, I am always checking the weather. Obsessively. Like I have a say in it or something. First there's the long-range forecast, then the short-term and yes, even hourly leading up to a session. I admit that I have a problem.

It doesn't always go my way and many times I have to do some rescheduling — not a big deal, but it's always kind of a let down. Sometimes it's questionable right up until the session time and there are phone calls back and forth with the client: "What does it look like where you are?", "Exactly how dark is the sky?"

A lot of the time I get lucky and the rain holds off like it did with my recent session with Maggie. It was overcast, which is actually pretty great for photography, but as a result the sky was dull and lifeless. There isn't anything I can do from a technical aspect to improve the situation. So, in special circumstances, I fake it. Here is Maggie's before shot.
 And here is Maggie's after shot with a sky that I copied from a different photo.
The key is to use tricks like this subtly — if it looks fake, it's no good. I always try to keep my photos as authentic as possible. I would never make drastic changes to the scene or the subject — it's important that a pet looks like they always do, as their family sees them every day.

Sometimes I just have to give Mother Nature a helping hand.
What is your favourite weather to photograph in? Are you a Weather Network junkie like me? Feel free to comment!


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Thursday, April 5, 2012

holly & leila | burlington ontario pet photographer

I met Dana and her two rescue cats, Holly and Leila, in their cosy fourth-floor apartment. Holly is a beautiful black-and-white long-hair, who is quite timid and spent most of our session tucking herself away into impossibly small spaces. Holly is more curious and playful — your textbook feline.

As an on-location photographer, I rarely get to see the spaces I will be photographing in ahead of time. It's always a surprise when I show up, which is really part of the fun. Sometimes I get super lucky with open spaces washed with light. Other times it's more challenging. But it's these tricky spaces that often result in the most interesting images, since I often end up in a room I wouldn't normally consider.

No matter the situation, I always make it work!

Let's start with lovely orange Leila, who was the easier girl to photograph.

Dana's apartment is pretty small and has only a few east-facing windows. To make it even more challenging, shy Holly was most comfortable in the bathroom — her favourite room — with the faucet running of course! The bathroom is tiny and has no natural light, but I didn't want to use my flash, since Holly was already nervous and the comfort of the pet is my priority. So, I spent lots of time laying on Dana's bathroom floor to get the shot. Ah, the glamorous life of a pet photographer!
And the two sisters together. What you don't see are the other two adults jammed in the bathroom with me, and the fact that I was standing on Dana's toilet! I think this is my favourite image from the day though because it really speaks to their personalities. I think this would look great framed and hung, where else, in the bathroom!
Thanks Dana, Leila and Holly for a fun afternoon!


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