This San Francisco dog photography session was a gift that a favorite old dog photography client of mine gave to one of their friends. There's nothing I love more than a great client referral, and I had so much fun working with this group of dogs: one gorgeous and sweet standard Poodle, and a tiny Chihuahua/Terrier mix who clearly ran the house. I took advantage of the beautiful dappled light and bright open shade in the back yard to create warm, comfortable and intimate dog portraits and really love the moments and connection that I got to witness during this session. Here are a few of my favorite dog photos from this San Francisco session:
This is Charlie, the 16 year old Chihuahua/Boston Terrier mix that lives in New York. I photographed him in New York a few weeks ago along with his wonderful, loving family. This is such an important moment in this senior dog's life, and his family was smart to schedule a New York dog photography session now because, though Charlie can still get around and chase squirrels as well as the next dog, he is a senior dog and his health is failing.
Charlie, like so many other older dogs, was the first 'child' in the family. He was an 'only child' for many, many years but now lives with a great 10 year old brother who loves him and tries his best to gently respect Charlie's senior dog lifestyle. Photographing this dog and his entire family in New York was such a special project, and I can't wait to help this client curate a beautiful collection of black and white dog portraits for their home.
Photographing senior dogs is always a truly moving and inspiring project- for me, as well as for my dog photography clients. Don't wait until it's too late. We've only got a finite amount of time with our animals companions, and every day counts.
These three siblings were so sweet and fun to work with during a recent Boston dog photography session. All rescues, the two small Terrier mixes came first as a bonded pair. Then a few years later Blue- the Pit Bull/Lab/Hound etc mix joined the family. Now they all get along wonderfully and play and snooze in the sun like loving siblings.
This Boston Dog Photography session was so much fun, and the beautiful shady back yard gave me lots of perfect dappled light to play with. Here are a few more favorite dog portraits from this session- enjoy!
I love when I have the opportunity to work with San Francisco dog photography clients more than once. Thankfully, it happens pretty often and it makes me have so much respect for the relationships we build together, and really brings such value to the time my dog photography clients and I take getting to know each other.
During my most recent San Francisco Fine Art Dog Photography Sessions I met an old client of mine at Chrissy Field— sadly, their two original dogs (whom I had photographed a few years back) both passed away. Because they are such eternal dog-lovers, they quickly adopted two new dogs from local San Francisco dog rescues and commissioned me to create a new series of dog portraits of their new family at the beach.
Photographing dogs at the beach is no easy task, and I don't take it lightly. The weather has to be perfect (a hearty cloud covering is best), the time of day has to be perfect (not too many other dogs or people on the beach), the temperature has to be palatable (it's no fun photographing people in coats), and the dogs have to be able to focus on me (not the million other distracting things happening around them). But if the planets align and all goes as planned, a San Francisco dog photography session at Chrissy Field or Fort Funston or Ocean Beach can be truly spectacular. Though I'll admit— from the outside it looks like I'm wrangling everything in the most chaotic way during a beach session. But I love that chaos, it keeps me on my toes and allows for a dynamic energy that fuels the session with creativity that I can't always find during a dog photography session at home.
Here are a few favorite images from this great Chrissy Field session, with two great dogs. My clients of course wanted to get some of the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, which is certainly understandable. On a slightly cool and foggy day, the view of the bridge from Chrissy Field is so beautiful.
When I started photographing dogs many years ago (has it been nearly ten years already....), I started searching for like-minded artists and animal activists and began building my community. It was easy to find friends and colleagues in the dog world that shared my theories on the dog/human bond and who were also passionate about understanding and loving and living with canines. The hard part was finding people in the art world who understood what was truly beautiful about visually documenting the dog/human bond in our contemporary art world. People who respected and revered what dogs brought to an artist's perspective and work, and who were bringing the conversation about dog art forward.
What I found when I started out was a vast, nearly uncrossable space between the world of fine art photography and the world of dogs. Of course there were some incredible heavy-hitter artists that were working in this space- Elliot Erwitt, William Wegman, and Tim Flach to name my favorites— though these guys were doing commercial work or private series and not working with private clients. There weren't a lot of contemporary artists who you could hire for a private commission that approached the subject from a fine art perspective. And even less were the number of people who were talking about dog art in the same way. As artists, we need curators and collectors and critics to create a conversation about work that is being made, or work that has been made, and connect us all.
Thankfully I did end up meeting a great artist and dog lover who ran a blog called DOG ART TODAY. It was a weekly round up of contemporary dog art combined with dog art history lessons. I became friends with the woman who wrote and curated that blog, and we built a great relationship and collaborated so many times over the years. Her site was the only source or real art criticism about this niche dog art world, and I loved it! Sadly, DOG ART TODAY paused publication in 2015, though hopefully it will begin again. I strongly suggest checking out the site by clicking here: http://dreamdogsart.typepad.com
And now there's a new blog in town, and it's really great. It's called Mrs. Sizzle, curated and written by Suzanne Donaldson. An experienced art buyer and critic- the site pulls together the best contemporary dog art, artists and exhibits happening around New York and across the country. It's a great site with a strong message about adoption and rescue causes. I'm honored to have a feature up there right now, which you can see here.
Summer in New York is such a beautiful time- the flowers have bloomed, the breeze is warm, and everyone is outside enjoying the sunshine with their New York dogs. I always look forward to photographing dogs in New York at Central Park, or Riverside Park, or Union Square, or Thompkins Square Park. All the parks, I guess. Putting a dog on a New York park bench underneath the bright shade of a tree full with leaves makes me incredibly happy. I can't wait to get to New York to photograph some wonderful New York dog photography clients.
As always, I've got a limited number of fine art dog photography sessions available for this upcoming NY trip. So don't hesitate- take the first step by learning more about my process here, and then use my contact form to get the conversation started.
I just opened up two Los Angeles dog photography sessions the weekend of May 7-8, 2016 — but these will go fast! I'm flying out to LA that weekend to film a segment with NBC for their show 'First Look' with Ashley Roberts and her tiny dog Cooper. We'll be shooting on Monday at a beautiful photo studio in Downtown LA with amazing natural light and clean white walls- just the kind of studio I love.
While I'm in Los Angeles to photograph Ashley Roberts' dog, I'll have time to book two LA pet photography sessions. You can check out my 2016 travel schedule here— and as you'll see, I won't be back in LA again until October. So now's your chance to book a wonderful summer dog photo session in LA!
Get in touch and I'll send you a Welcome Packet once we schedule a quick Creative Call. Click below to get the process started and grab one of these upcoming Los Angeles dog photography sessions before they're gone!
People are always so surprised when I explain am that I'm a dog photographer— and then give a general description of my style. I typically say that I'm a fine art photographer studying the dog/human bond, which is in essence the quickest description of my work. But even after all these years of photographing dogs all over the country, and making strong work, and being involved in my wonderful dog/art community— people still look surprised when I even mention the word 'style' in relation to dog photography. And I just don't understand why.
For some reason, most people think that all dog photography has to look the same. And this makes no sense. Dog photography is a kind of photography, just like landscape photography, fashion photography, family photography, wedding photography, etc. In all those niches, it is completely acceptable for artists to differ in their creative approach and — surprise!— STYLE. Though the best styles get copied in all niches, the general public assumes that there are multiple ways to photograph a wedding creatively, and multiple ways to photograph a fashion campaign. But for some mysterious reason, when people think of dog photography they only have one image or style in mind, and that is a cutesy photo of a dog on a white background photographed from above with little attention to composition or feeling. It is flat, it is boring, it says nothing about the dog or the human it is attached to, it is a moment 'captured' by luck not by skill, and it is so overdone. Why rely on what is 'cute'? Why rely on auto-expose and auto-focus and post production auto-corrections— where does that get you, aside from completely removed from the intention of the image?
So why does dog photography get pigeon-holed into being so one-dimensional? It's something I've always wondered, ever since I started photographing dogs in San Francisco, and then Los Angeles, and then New York and Boston. I am an artist, and I feel a need to push the boundaries and express myself through my medium. I did this by developing a unique style of dog photography that no one else was doing- that is intimate, very personal, environmental, journalistic, concerned with story-telling and of course black and white. It is the antithesis of what people expect when they think of dog photography, and though I do see one or two other photographers who have built their own wonderful unique style in our niche— there remains little creativity within it. People are afraid to do something different. And that is probably why the general public thinks that dog photography is so one-dimensional.
I'm currently going through the enormous process of selecting the portraits for the Finding Shelter book- which will be published in early 2017 by Lyons Press. This project documents hundreds of volunteers and abandoned animals at animal shelters and rescue groups across the country. I interviewed and photographed over 300 volunteers and animals for this project over the past two years, but the book will only include a fraction of those portraits and stories. So now I'm spending time reviewing all the work from the past two years, including selecting the strongest portraits, and listening to the countless hours of interviews I did. Though I've clearly already heard all the stories before, listening to them again has honestly inspired me to continue this work and feel a true sense of pride in this project, just like all the animal shelter volunteers feel as they continue showing up to do such grueling and emotional work without any financial compensation.
I just edited the story of the dog above- McCoy, who is part of Big Fluffy Dog Rescue in Nashville, Tennessee. Though I can't share the entire story until the book is published, McCoy was pulled from a terrible hoarding case where he was found malnourished, abused and living among countless dead dogs. It was an unspeakable example of animal cruelty. But also an incredible story of survival and resistance, as McCoy was taken to a city shelter (where he may very likely have been put down because of over-crowding), then rescued by Big Fluffy Dogs, and fostered by an amazingly kind family. He was nursed to health and prepared for adoption. What a powerful example of the beauty within the animal shelter system- which is the whole goal of the Finding Shelter book.
I love being back on the East Coast. California was wonderful, but New England has always felt like home to me, which is why I'm excited to start booking New York dog photography sessions starting in May 2016. You'll see that on my Travel Schedule page I've listed all my dog photography trips for the current year- this is an accurate list, though my New York dog photography session dates are actually getting booked outside of those weeks because it's so easy to get to New York from the Berkshires.
So, if you've been waiting to schedule a dog photography session with my in New York, but it's been too expensive because of my travel fee, or my travel schedule from San Francisco was too difficult to work around- now's your chance, New York! I'd love to chat with you about your beloved dogs and put together a wonderful and inspiring photography session this Spring or Summer.
Just shoot me a message via my inquiry form (right here) and I'll get back to you within a day to get the conversation going and let you decide if we're a good fit.
The above two images are portraits I created a few years back in Tompkins Square Park in New York for the East Village Boys magazine. I was commissioned to do a series for the magazine about people at the Tompkins Square dog park, so I walked around one day after a terrible storm and started talking to all the fascinating people at the dog park. From those interactions came a portrait series- these are two of my favorite New York dog photos from the day. That texture and light is so reminiscent of New York- old cobble stones, worn park benches, dappled light. I love it.