After all these years of helping my clients tell the story of their beloved companions, and seeing the immense joy and appreciation in their faces during our final Presentation, I've never actually had the opportunity to be on the other side of the lens. Like my clients, I have so many photographs of my dog Pancake on my phone, and some small prints here and there throughout my house and office. All of them taken by me, at random times, showing a side of our relationship that is, in a way, on the surface. He's handsome, he looks good in photos, but to be honest- there was always something missing from the images I created of him. Which is why, I can assume, my clients come to me when the time is right. My job is to dive deeper than the surface. Much deeper. My job as an artist is to show my clients how incredibly beautiful, intimate, and unique their companions are through my images. By getting a fresh perspective, and bringing my years of professional experience and understanding of the dog/human bond to each collaboration, I am able to create portraits for my clients that are truly something they could never create on their own.
Thankfully, I've got some pretty amazingly talented friends. And a few months ago I took Pancake up to Petaluma on a perfectly foggy day to hike with our friends Bill and Nat of Photo Lab Pet Photography, and their lab Corbin. All three of us loaded up with a million cameras, film, poop bags, water for the dogs, treats for the dogs, and tick spray and headed out yonder. During our wonderful hike, I photographed Corbin and Bill and Nat photographed Pancake. It was a fun collaborative project, but I didn't expect to be so moved by the amazing images they created. Not because they aren't some of most talented pet photographers around (which they are, just look at their website: www.photolabpets.com), but simply because how could someone else's lens do something that I couldn't?
Everything became clear when they sent me their final images from our hike. The portraits they created showed a side of Pancake that I've never really seen in a photograph. His calm, sweet and introspective character came through in a perfectly quiet way, and I will cherish these images forever. It was a wonderful lesson on how my own clients feel when they hire me, and helped me understand their sensitive position more clearly.
Here are some images I created for Bill and Nat (in black and white), and some favorites they created of Pancake (in color). What do you think?
And here's our handsome pair of dorky dogs. Don't they look good together?
You can take a look at Bill and Nat's perspective on their blog.