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A Senior Dog's Birthday in Santa Fe

Harper: Santa Fe, NM

Harper: Santa Fe, NM

This Santa Fe dog photography session was pretty special, I’m not going to lie. After seeing my featured profile article in the Santa Fe New Mexican that came out last Summer (click here to read that great article), this client got in touch and during our first Creative Call they told me all about their wonderful Golden Retriever, Harper, who was just about to turn 10. During that first conversation - a truly important and inspiring and emotional and fun step in my process of getting to know and understand my dog photography clients - they also mentioned that they both were turning 70 in 2019. In dog years, Harper was technically turning 70 as well. 2019 was to be a big birthday year, and my client wanted to commission me to help them celebrate all that that moment entailed. And I couldn’t have been happier about it.

Harper: Santa Fe, NM

Harper: Santa Fe, NM

Harper: Santa Fe, NM

Harper: Santa Fe, NM

This client lives part time in Santa Fe, and part time in a few other equally beautiful places. When they travel between cities they always drive, of course, so that sweet Harper can safely and comfortably travel with them. She is the center of their world and there is so much love in their family. There also is a beautiful collection of art, which caught my eye when I first entered their home in Santa Fe.

Harper greeted me with an enthusiastic body slam, and did a few zooms around the living room to make me feel welcome (as any Golden Retriever would). We spent some quiet time photographing at home, utilize the great window light and simple textures and tones before heading out to a nearby Santa Fe park with beautiful dappled light, grass, murals and space for Harper to run around a bit. Though Harper was hardly slowing down at the ripe old age of 10, she did unfortunately have a cast on during our dog photography session from a stubborn injury that simply would not heal properly. My client was hesitant to even keep our Photography Session scheduled as they did not want to focus on Harper’s cast, but because her injury persisted for months we went ahead and photographed anyway. As is my job, I listened to my clients’ concerns about wanting to avoid the cast in our portraits - they wanted to show Harper at her best, not her worst. Of course I understood, and made sure to confidently and calmly create beautiful, glowing portraits of sweet and happy Harper without showing the cast. I knew we could do it, and we did. However, as is my nature, I was not afraid to create and show portraits that did actually include her full body, and therefore her actual injured foot. As a documentary dog photographer, I believe all moments in a dog’s life are equally important - even the ones that seem stressful or odd (like a pesky injury). I then left it up to my clients whether or not to fall in love with those images - and, of course, they did.

Harper: Santa Fe, NM

Harper: Santa Fe, NM

One of the main goals of this Santa Fe dog photography session was to create a strong family portrait that my client could use for their 70th Birthday invitations to friends and family around the world. 2019 would be full of multiple birthday celebrations for all three of them in various locations, and this portrait would act as an anchor for that very special invitation. The portrait above was what the landed on, taken in the late afternoon at a unique little park in Santa Fe.

Harper: Santa Fe, NM

Harper: Santa Fe, NM

At the very end of our Photography Session, we returned to the house and I could tell Harper was worn out (I very common side effect of a great session). So as I pretended to pack up my camera bag I saw Harper trot over to her favorite sun spot on the patio and curl up for a snooze. This is what always happens at the end of a session if I’m careful - I pretend to pack my bag so that dogs feel as though they are let off the hook and can go take a load off. The trick is to oh-so-quietly keep an eye on where they end up and sneak over there to create a few final portraits - these usually end of being some of my favorite images from a session because dogs are so relaxed, curled up in spots my clients are so familiar with. This portrait above of course became another great edition for my client’s home.

Thanks for a wonderful session, Harper. You’re a very good dog.

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A Great Dog Event at Santa Fe Home

Fine Art Dog Photography in Santa Fe Home

Fine Art Dog Photography in Santa Fe Home

“Canine Christmas” at Santa Fe Home was such a fun event! In support of Santa Fe’s amazing Kindred Spirits Animal Sanctuary, we welcomed people and dogs from Santa Fe to one of my favorite home goods stores in the city for a special afternoon of dog snacks, people snacks, pet-friendly fabrics and furniture and of course black and white fine art dog photography.

I met a lot of very good dogs and talked to visitors about the place of photography in their homes and how artistic pieces like dog portraits and beautiful furniture can really tell such a powerful story about love and comfort and what “home” means. Thanks to everyone who came out to this great holiday dog event, and of course to the excellent and kind staff at Santa Fe Home. (FYI I just bought some really great pieces for my studio there!)

Fine Art Dog Photography at Santa Fe Home

Fine Art Dog Photography at Santa Fe Home

Fine Art Dog Photography at Santa Fe Home

Fine Art Dog Photography at Santa Fe Home

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A Spotty Doxie in Petaluma

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I love working with dog photography clients in San Francisco, but when I’m in the city I always end up driving all around the Bay Area. One of my favorite directions to drive from San Francisco is North - up to Petaluma and Napa and Sonoma and the Russian River etc. All such beautiful places to photograph. Great dog communities up north, great art communities. Great all around.

This session features my good friend Sarah Deragon (of Portraits to the People, and The Identity Project fame). She is an incredible portrait photographer that is just killing it these days with head shot photography, branding photography, ad and commercial work, huge campaigns etc. I was very excited when she commissioned me to photograph her beloved dappled Doxin, Bear.

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Sarah and Bear live in a beautiful little studio, right behind a horse farm so we had lots of great fields and dirt roads and dappled sunlight to play with for our dog photography session. Bear is such a squirmy little guy, I wanted to make sure I got to see him running around and playing and being himself. That involved grabbing every enormous stick on the ground that was twice his size and attempting to drag it over to me (in typical Doxin fashion). The dirt road right beside the house was perfect - dapped sunlight, great texture from the drooping tree branches, rutted tire tracks all leading toward the horizon. I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful scenario in which to create some portraits, so I had Sarah and Bear walk up and down the path a bit while I photographed. Above is the winning image from that moment - totally worth the back and forth and backwards walking and kneeling on acorns etc.

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Thanks for a great session, Bear. You’re a very good dog.

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Getting Ready for the Holidays: Pet Photography Holiday Gift Ideas

Pet Photography Gift Certificates + Gift Cards for the Holidays

Pet Photography Gift Certificates + Gift Cards for the Holidays

It’s that time of year again- time to get stressed about what you’re giving whom for the holidays! Honestly, I’m a last minute gift giver and I have no shame about it. I’m a busy guy and I procrastinate, so sometimes people get their holiday gifts late and there’s no reasoning getting upset about it. However, here’s a pro tip for you: get your fellow dog lovers a Dog Photography Gift Certificate from the studio this holiday! It’s easy, it’s guaranteed to please, and you’ll be lauded as the best gift-giver in town.

Pet Photography Gift Certificates from my studio are fully customizable, however I always recommend starting with either one of my hand-selected packages that include a weekday Fine Art Dog Photography Session as well as a selection of small prints. This is a truly wonderful way to get your recipient started in building a beautiful black and white dog photography collection - they get an incredible experience with me, focusing on exactly the kind of dog portraits they had in mind, as well as some beautiful signed dog portraits that they’ll cherish forever. They don’t have to invest in anything else, of course - though they will have the opportunity to do so during our project. Zero stress on them, LOTS of holidays awesome points for you.

Pet Photography Gift Ideas - Dog Photography Gift Session for the Holidays

Pet Photography Gift Ideas - Dog Photography Gift Session for the Holidays

Other gift ideas for your fellow dog-lovers and dog-owners? Sure thing.

Here’s one - get them a signed copy of Finding Shelter, my 2017 book (published by Lyons Press) about the beautiful and emotional bond between our country’s animal shelter volunteers and the homeless shelter animals they care for. Now, you could purchase “Finding Shelter” on Amazon for a discounted price, and you could purchase a copy at Barnes + Noble or your local small book shop (go there! really!). However, the only way to get a signed + personalized copy of my book is to purchase it directly through my studio. A signed copy from my studio runs $25 + shipping, and I’ll not only sign it I’ll also inscribe it with any message you’d like. Fun! What a great pet lover’s holiday gift.

To purchase a signed + personalized copy of Finding Shelter directly though my studio, just use my contact form and let me know you’d like to order your copy (or copies, really). Click CONTACT on the menu bar at the top of my site, or just click here.

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A Gang of Terriers in Santa Fe

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My Santa Fe Dog Photography studio is getting busy, and I’m pretty thrilled about it. Santa Fe (and Albuquerque, and Taos, and Denver, and Aspen etc) is incredibly beautiful - we have mountains, desert, lots of sunshine, lots of beautiful dog-friendly hiking trails and LOTS of outdoor space. It’s an artist’s dreamland and I’m so happy to have settled into Santa Fe. My new Santa Fe dog photography clients are really the perfect profile of client - they are exactly who I want to be working with and that makes it a win-win for everyone.

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I photographed this scruffy crew of Terriers a few weeks ago, and basically just chased them around their beautiful ranch property in Santa Fe for an hour. Often times I had at least one dog in my lap or licking my hands while I was photographing. It was like a dog circus and I was a terrible conductor. However, as I always tell clients, often times photography sessions look like total chaos from the outside yet actually they are going just as I planned. I love the chaos that ensues when you put four adorable tiny rescue dogs together - they are always running in opposite directions and not really doing what you want and you have to crawl around on rocks and get dirty and sweaty and by the end of the session you need a snack - but that is all part of the job description. Instead of being stressed out or upset that these sweet little scruffy pups were mostly ignoring me, I let myself fall into the chaos and energy and joy of the moment. The result was a series of beautiful portraits, with beautiful Santa Fe light, lots of texture and a whole lot of love.

Thanks Emmy, Finn, Babette and Sukoshi - you are all very good dogs.

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A Boston + A Frenchie in Berkeley

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I can’t lie. I love Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs. A lot. I’m quite partial to all bully breeds and this fine art dog photography session in Berkeley, CA was amazingly fun for a lot of reasons.

1) I got to hang out with Dapper (the Boston) and Miso (the Frenchie)

2) I got to spend the afternoon in beautiful Berkeley, CA

3) It was a cool, sunny, foggy, overcast day - my favorite conditions for black and white photography

4) My client works at the Ansel Adams Trust. This was a huge one. Her job centers around taking care of the work of one of my photography heroes, Ansel Adams. She scrutinizes the detail and quality of some of the world’s most renowned black and white photographs, and deeply understands the value of high quality print production. For those reasons, I was honored when she commissioned me to photograph her beloved Dapper and Miso at her home just outside San Francisco.

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Dapper and Miso are your typical dueling siblings - they have a love/hate relationship with each other. Getting to witness that complicated bond was a lot of fun, and kept me on my toes during our dog photography session. I utilized the beautiful overcast light in the back yard and back patio, where the dogs usually like to sun themselves. I had a great wooden textured bench to use as a platform - I like to place dogs on objects like furniture to give them physical stage on which to perform. I guide them into/onto the platform I want to use, make sure they are safe and happy there, and then step back and simply observe. And photograph. Quite, usually.

That’s how I made this series of great black and white dog portraits, including a few great family portraits for my client which they loved. This family portrait was turned into smaller gift prints for their respective families, and of course one print for their home. We also selected portraits of Dapper and Miso solo which will be installed in their kitchen/main living room so that they can be enjoyed every morning and every evening while the dogs snooze in their dog beds beside the kitchen table. Couldn’t ask for a better out come than that.

Thanks Dapper and Miso. You are very good dogs.

And thanks to my client who, on my way out, gifted me two beautiful Ansel Adams books. What a special gift! I was so excited to bring these books home to add them to my art book collection - especially since I have a fairly large Ansel Adams book collection already. What a great gift.

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A Session to be Remembered in Petaluma

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Once in a while the stars align and your favorite weather shows up (cool, slight breeze, bright yet cloudy, beach vibes), your favorite people show up (my two good friends Nat and Bill, of the famous The Labs and Co - pet photography + design + ad work), your brain is running on all five cylinders and everyone is just relaxed and happy to be together in the most genuine way. For this artist - that is pretty much as good as it gets.

Over the many years that I have known the lovely Nat and Bill (and their wonderful dogs Corbin and Willow) we have traded services back and forth as needed, because that’s just what friends do. Sometimes I’m in a jam (well, quite often really) and I need some amazingly designed piece of marketing drawn up, so I call Nat and Bill. Sometimes Nat and Bill need help with a creative side project, so they call me. We’ve photographed each other and our respective dogs over the years, watching them each grow up, grow into themselves, and age as gracefully as possible. It’s a special relationship and that makes the work always special, too.

When I was in San Francisco for dog photography clients recently I met up with Nat and Bill and their ‘heart dog’, Corbin at Dillon Beach. Dillon Beach is a beautiful, calm, fairly quiet beach about an hour above San Francisco that allows dogs to run free (or, I think it’s legal at least….). As always, I asked Nat and Bill what would be the most special and meaningful location to photography Corbin, who is getting up in years and has battled (and overcome) a handful of old-dog illnesses already. They immediately said ‘Dillon Beach!’ and I’m thrilled that’s where we met.

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Even though I’ve known this family for many years, I still have a responsibility to create a calm, warm and creative environment in which to make our work. From the second we got in the car to drive to Dillon Beach, I was working in an intentional yet subtle way to keep all humans and dogs at ease - everyone gets a little self conscious in front of the lens, even dogs, so I work to keep the energy calm and easy before we even begin photographing. That way, when it’s time to pick up my camera my subjects feel connected to each other, to me, and there is a strong level of trust that flows between everyone. I do this whether I’m photographing old friends or brand new clients - it’s an invisible process that is at once challenging (wrangling people is always much harder than wrangling dogs - for me, at least) and deeply satisfying.

Clients often ask me how I create such intimate and relaxed portraits - and the answer is by working hard behind the scenes to build an environment of ease, trust and comfort. It starts from the very second clients find me online, and flows into how I interact with each dog photography client - each of our conversations, each marketing piece they receive, how I sell them on my work and the way I want them to feel when they receive their final printed and matted photographs. Sometimes I feel like a puppeteer, in the best way. Other times I feel like a dog trainer that is training people - by mirroring the behavior I want to see in my clients (calmness, kindness, honesty, joy, creativity), I am subconsciously telling my clients what I want from them. This session with Nat and Bill and Corbin and Willow was a great example of this process - it’s easy to be calm and joyful when with friends and my energy kept their energy in that sweet spot of adaptability, trust and playfulness.

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What a fun session this was. Thanks to Nat and Bill for trusting me to visually articulate the emotions wrapped up in watching your heart-dog grow old, and for running around on the beach for hours on end without complaint.

Corbin and Willow - you are very good dogs.

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If you’re living with a senior dog, or want to schedule a beautiful San Francisco Bay Area dog photography session on the beach, click below to get the conversation started. Can’t wait to hear from you.

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Two Bostons in the Castro

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Many, many people met my beloved Boston Terrier Pancake during his amazing long life, and many, many of them fell in love with his incredibly kind demeanor and big personality. He was a dog that loved unconditionally, and he wanted to get to know everyone that crossed his path. That led to a lot of people becoming fans of the Boston Terrier breed, and a good handful of those people soon enough came to share their lives with a Boston Terrier (or two).

One of those lovely people is the San Francisco dog photography client featured here. She and her partner brought two sweet spunky little BTs into their lives a few years ago and both of them are directly related to my sweet Pancake. So you can imagine how excited I was to be commissioned to photograph they beautiful family - and of course spend some good couch time snugging these two nuggets.

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For this San Francisco dog photography session we met at their home - one of the newer, beautiful loft buildings in the Castro area of San Francisco. There was great light in their apartment, but my client mentioned that the views of the Castro, Diamond Heights, the Mission and Noe Valley were spectacular from their rooftop deck so that’s where we focused most of our session. Like so often happens in San Francisco, the sky had a healthy blanket of fog going on that day which I was thrilled about. I love fog! I love it so much. I want fog all the time every day for every photography session. Fog is like an enormous soft box in the sky - it takes bright, harsh sun light and diffuses it into bright, soft, flattering light that is perfect for portraits, whether of dogs or people.

It was important to my clients to not only photograph Harley and Levi, but also the family as a whole. These guys love each other so much, and to me there is nothing more inspiring than photographing love. That’s really what my job is about - subjects don’t really matter to me. What I’m fascinated with and what I have centered my career on is observing and documenting love and relationships. I just believe that dogs are the perfect catalyst for viewing love - as seen here.

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The iconic San Francisco Bay Area views in this work, and the love shared between both humans and both dogs, made this a very special day in the office.

Thanks for a wonderful session, everyone.

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A Second Session with Teddy in Palo Alto, CA

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I’m always honored when clients invite me back to their homes to photograph their dogs for a second or third or fourth time. During my recent trip to San Francisco I had the pleasure of working with two wonderful repeat clients and Teddy is one of them. Teddy was rescued from a busy, high-kill Los Angeles animal shelter by one of my favorite dog rescue groups, Wags and Walks Rescue. He was then spotted by my client on the Wags and Walks website, quickly adopted, and swept up to lovely Palo Alto, CA where he lives a joyful life with a sunny back yard, a bunch of sweet and smart kids to hang around with, and one very devoted Mom who teaches him about contemporary art and loves him to pieces.

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I first photographed Teddy about three years ago, and returned for our second San Francisco dog photography session just as my client’s last child was heading off to college. After years of raising four great kids and watching them all head off to impressive universities, the house was about to feel a whole lot quieter - which is an emotionally charged moment for any parent. Our photography session centered around how Teddy pulls the family together - everyone loves him, and he loves everyone right back. We played in the yard (built just for him), lounged on the couch, created some portraits for the kids to take back to college and of course took some time to photograph Teddy alongside my clients. I’ve been so fascinated with abstraction lately, and am really leaning into a new way of creating family portraits that pull away from traditional poses and composition, and instead take away elements of the human subjects so that the canine subject really controls the frame. It’s challenging and weird and fun and interesting and I love it. My clients are loving it, too.

A few years ago I put together one of my very beautiful, artisan-crafted portfolio boxes to house a series of eight editions for this client. One of the best parts about a portfolio box (aside from the fact that they are amazing artifacts on their own, with custom book fabrics etc), is that it gives my client and I room to grow. For this recent dog photography session I helped my clients curate a few more editions to add to that original box, as well as a larger beautiful print for their walls.

What a very special and fun and creative project. Thanks Teddy, you’re a very good dog.

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What a great Open Studios event!

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My Grand Opening Party (which was part of our Lena Street Lofts larger Open Studios day) was so much fun. It was the perfect excuse to pull the last details of my new Santa Fe dog photography studio together - like hanging a few more large black and white dog portraits on the walls, cleaning my desk (that’s a big task in itself…), putting out a big stack of my 2017 book “Finding Shelter” and some limited edition prints from the book, opening a box of closed edition silver gelatin prints of some of my earliest dog portraits for guests to peruse and purchase, putting out lots of business cards and setting out my beautiful new portfolio box on the coffee table.

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Thanks to everyone who came out last weekend. It was so great to see so many friends and I’m thrilled to have my Santa Fe dog photography studio finally open to the public.

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