Photographing Dogs on the Beach
I used to be fairly opposed to photographing dogs on the beach in San Francisco. It's too bright, there is too much sand, dogs can be distracted, etc. I've probably done one beach dog photography session per year for the past few years just for those reasons. But as I've had more requests for beach sessions in San Francisco and Los Angeles, I've learned to let go of my preconceived notions of how challenging a beach session can be, and embraced the incredible beauty and magic of photographing dogs on the beach. Creating images like these of Reesa and her human sure helped seal the deal: I LOVE TO PHOTOGRAPH DOGS ON THE BEACH. There. I said it.
Reesa is a Spaniel/Flat Coated Retriever mix and is a real magical creature. She is a great example of what most photographers might call a 'difficult dog to photograph.' First, she is sold black. Second, she is quite shy and wary of strangers. Third, she is very active and VERY fast. When I hear these things, I don't see red flags- I see a fun and simple challenge. All it took to create beautiful and warm portraits of this dog was a little patience, a quiet demeanor, and strong exposures. Personally, I think these are qualities all photographers should have. In our contemporary world where photographers are a dime a dozen, many new people in the field have come to rely simply on keeping their camera settings at a certain exposure they read in some book, as well as relying on heavy post-processing in the editing stage. They are forgetting that they must remain artists before they even pick up their camera, no matter if they are shooting digitally or with film. To be able to juggle correct exposures on the beach, while opening up the amazing tones and texture of a black, silky dog like Reesa, and keeping Reesa's human engaged and at ease is like juggling a dozen glass bottles. It's quite tricky, and takes a lot of practice, and if you aren't focused you'll mess it all up. But there is a moment within the chaos and challenge that is completely calm and easy- that is where photography happens. And for some reason this beach dog photography session at San Francisco's Crissy Field really made me appreciate that entire crazy process. I love the images from this San Francisco dog photography session, and love my job even more.