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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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Santa Fe Dog Photography Grand Opening Party!

I hope you can join me on Saturday October 20th from 2-6pm for my Santa Fe dog photography studio Grand Opening party. I’m thrilled to finally be all moved in to my beautiful new studio at the Lena Street Lofts in Santa Fe, right across from Iconik Coffee and directly above La Lecheria ice cream shop (thank goodness I’ve got good snacks so close by). The Lena Street Lofts is such a vibrant, creative community. My neighbors are fine artists, crafters, creative small business owners, healers and more and I feel very welcomed and at home here.

My Grand Opening Party coincides with our larger Lena Street Lofts Open Studios event, so there will be LOTS of things to do at our compound. Come visit me first, then go across the street to Iconik for coffee and s’mores, then walk around and visit the numerous other studios that will be open and welcoming visitors. I’ll have a map to share with you once you come in.


STUDIO GRAND OPENING PARTY
Jesse Freidin Photographer
Saturday October 20th, 2-6pm
1708 Lena St #202 (upstairs)
Santa Fe, NM 87505

More info at our Facebook event page: www.facebook.com/events/2189810367759987/

Please bring a dog/art loving friend, but keep your handsome dogs at home (tell them I say hello).

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Santa Fe New Mexican Sunday Feature: Dog Photographer In Town

I'm honored to have been interviewed for the Santa Fe New Mexican's "Sunday Feature" last weekend. The reporter that interviewed me was so wonderful (and thorough), their photographer did a great job photographing me and Lola (the dog), and I've been so happily surprised by how many people have read the the article in Santa Fe and contacted me. A great experience with my first local press coverage in my new hometown of Santa Fe. 

You can read the full article here: http://www.santafenewmexican.com/life/features/pet-portrait-photographer-sets-up-shop-in-santa-fe/article_d7432734-416a-5dc3-a651-755952db2431.html

Aside from loving this beautiful city, I have been welcomed with open arms by the dog community, the arts community, fellow photographers and animal activists and so many friendly people. Santa Fe needs a dog photographer that caters to the high-end arts market here, and I'm thrilled to be the man for the job. 

I'll be hosting a big studio opening party at my Santa Fe dog photography studio in a few months, and will keep everyone up to date on that as it comes together. In the mean time, I'm really looking forward to all the exciting non-profit projects I'm working on here in Santa Fe, and the new community of Santa Fe dog photography clients I'll be working with. So happy to have landed here. 

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Pancake's Final Farewell

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Writing this post is almost impossible to do, but about two weeks ago I had to say my final farewell and give my very last hug to my favorite dog on the planet, Pancake. He lived an admirable and honorable 13 years on this planet, every single one of them by my side. Like so many people I know, Pancake and I were attached at the hip from the very first day we met. He was two months old when I brought him into my life, ridiculously floppy, baby-faced and puked the whole way home in the car as I held him and was fully committed to a creature I hardly even knew yet. It was the first time I had ever experienced the sensation of wanting to protect a small creature, not because I thought baby Pancake needed my protection but simply because I wanted to offer it to him unconditionally. 

It's difficult to describe the bond we shared. Dogs, like the people closest to us, adapt and form to our lives all while maintaining their own individuality which we in turn adapt and form to. That's the meaning of life right there, and that's exactly what it was like sharing the past 13 years with Pancake. We learned from each other, we taught each other, we listened to each other and when we fought (Why did you eat the last remaining copy of my college thesis, Pancake? Why did you eat your poop again, puppy Pancake? Why did you puke on the floor during a client meeting, Pancake? Why are you whining during the busiest day of the week, Pancake? Why did you eat my friend's fancy pair of glasses and expensive hand poured wax candles, Pancake? Why won't you pee outside at 10:30pm during a winter snowstorm, Pancake? Why did you secretly eat all that grass and mud at the park, Pancake? Why did you have explosive poop in my car while we were running errands, Pancake? ), we always worked through it and came together in the end. Quickly. With forgiveness and understanding and respect for our own particular ways of being. 

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One of the things Pancake and I enjoyed doing together most was taking long walks on the beach. And no, that's not a joke. Being at the beach is where I feel most at ease, and as a puppy I guess I taught Pancake the value of quiet beach time. It took us a long time to get the hang of off-leash boundaries and behavior - for me, I needed to learn to trust Pancake as a young dog, and for him he needed to learn to trust my rules and expectations. It wasn't until he was about a year and a half that we were able to be off-leash together in a calm and confident way. But I still remember that first time he ran farther ahead than I wanted, and I called him back to me (with the promise of a tiny piece of carrot, his favorite) and he turned on a dime and sprinted as fast as his tiny dog body allowed and zoomed all the way back to me and crash-landed at my feet in a sandy pile, happily taking his carrot prize. Our beach walks, both in San Francisco and on Cape Cod, were always the epitome of freedom and joy and it was a beautiful thing to be part of. I'll always be deeply grateful that Pancake valued an experience that meant so much to me - not only was it convenient, it was made more special that we got to do it together for all those years. He was at his happiest zooming down a beach, and I was at my happiest watching. 

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Side Note: Pancake did NOT enjoy swimming. This is a photo of the torture I would inflict on him a few times a year. During the Summer we'd be on Cape Cod because I would be teaching or visiting family. Early in the mornings before I went to teach my photography class we would go to the beach. It would be still and quiet, with no tourists or children or dogs. I'd take gently pick up Pancake and walk him out through the still shallow morning water and place him in the water and quickly walk back to shore. He was not a great swimmer, but it cooled him off and was good exercise. Also it was adorable (proof is above). 

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For the few years that I lived in Los Angeles, Pancake and I sure clocked a LOT of miles on the trails at Griffith Park and Runyon Canyon. We hiked at least once a week, usually twice or three times. 'Hiking' in LA is not leisurely enjoying nature while challenging your body. 'Hiking' in LA is basically going to the gym outside. As much as I was shocked at how many people talked loudly on their cell phones while on the trails or carried obnoxious boom boxes or literally RAN WITH WEIGHTS, I secretly loved being part of that weird, weird world. Pancake loved it, too. We'd do very brisk hikes in the LA sun weaving amongst all the other people, trying to keep up with the most fit humans I'd ever seen. Sometimes on really hot days Pancake would tire out and literally lie down in the middle of the sandy paths. He'd roll over ever so dramatically and cover himself in dirt and slide under a 'shrub' which provided a tiny bit of shade. I'd sit with him and give him water while strangers gawked at how poorly treated my little dog was until I finally gave in and hoisted him over my shoulder and hiked all the way down the trail with him grinning ear to ear. I called that 'hailing a human taxi' because secretly all he wanted was to be carried around in public. 

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 Photo Credit: Sarah Deragon

Photo Credit: Sarah Deragon

 Photo Credit: Valeda Stull

Photo Credit: Valeda Stull

I'm incredibly lucky to have so many talented photographers in my life. I guess that's just part of the job. After ten years of telling people how important it is to turn the mirror around and show them the beauty that lies within the bond they share with their dog, it honestly never ceases to amaze me how affected I am by looking at good proper portraits of Pancake and I. It's as if all those years I had no idea what we looked like together - because that's honestly the truth. When you share your world with a dog (or a person) it all becomes second nature and getting an outside perspective is nearly impossible. These portraits I have of Pancake and I are some of my favorite possessions and I'm so glad that I can look back at them now. Just like my clients can look back at the work we make together and feel comforted. The camera is the most magical mirror. 

 Photo Credit: Natalia Martinez, Photo Lab Pet Photography

Photo Credit: Natalia Martinez, Photo Lab Pet Photography

 Photo Credit: Natalia Martinez, Photo Lab Pet Photography

Photo Credit: Natalia Martinez, Photo Lab Pet Photography

To everyone who has reached out over the past few weeks: Thank You. Thank you for recognizing what a meaningful relationship I had with my favorite dog, and for lending your support and well wishes. It's a vulnerable, painful, confusing, overwhelming, joyful, beautiful, terrible, wonderful experience to lose a dog. Feels not too dissimilar from the experience of having a dog. It's all one big swirling cycle of appreciation and love and loss and the willingness to do it all over again. 

 

Farewell, Pancake. You are a very good dog. Your cells are in my cells are your never, ever far away.

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