How'd You Get That Shot!?
Here's another photo I get questions about all the time. It's a true, long time favorite of mine and always catches people's eyes when they look through my portfolio. This is an image I created for one of my very first clients, believe it or not, in a backyard in San Francisco.
My client had a Bloodhound, a Pitbull and another hound mix. They were all pretty rambunctious, yet also a bit people-shy at the same time. So, I was really on my toes during the entire dog photography session. I wanted to keep the dogs and my client calm, yet I knew that if I showed any stress or anxiety the dogs would quickly pick up on it and avoid me. So I played it cool and simply observed them and their human interacting, being so sweet with each other. My client mentioned that the Bloodhound and Pitbull and been with her for so many years, and were not getting old and dealing with some health issues. So for her, a portrait of them together was her main goal.
After trying to get to sit together in a relaxed way, and continuing to fail, my client had this crazy idea of putting them on leash and wrapping their leashes gently around the fence she was in the process of installing in her yard. Her yard, by the way, was all dirt because she in the middle of putting in fresh grass. So we had to bring out Minnie (the Pitbull)'s favorite soft pink blanket and lay it down so that she'd sit still. It was a real circus out there for a few minutes but as my client was wrangling both her excited dogs I stepped back, loaded a few extra rolls of film, and framed up this portrait. I focused on the Bloodhound, closed down my aperture to make sure I pulled in as much focus and detail as possible, and simply waited for my client to step out of the frame.
As soon as she did, the dogs looked worried. I wondered if this would even work at all. But as always, I waited patiently and quietly with my hands holding my Hasselblad (with the waste-level view finder) as still as I possibly could. My hands were shaking soon after because that is a heavy camera, and my palms were sweating. All of a sudden the dogs started singing, and everything fell into place. It was the hound that got it going, and then the Pitbull chimed in. Their song was soulful and scratchy, and beautiful to watch. I stayed in my place and shot through two whole rolls of film, just letting the dogs move through the moment, making sure I landed on one or two great portraits.
The result is above, and it's pretty great. I made an enormous edition of this for my client's home, and kept one in my studio ever since.