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Farewell to Harley

 San Francisco Dog Photography

San Francisco Dog Photography

Another very good dog went up to the sky recently. This is Harley the Chihuahua mix, who I photographed a few years ago in the San Francisco Bay Area at a big, beautiful home. One of my favorite old San Francisco dog photography clients purchased this session as a gift for her boss, and when I pulled up the driveway there was a herd of Standard Poodles and Chihuahuas running around the yard in the sunshine. My kind of a morning. 

Harley was very loved, and will be deeply missed. This will be the third time in the past six months that I help a client put together a memorial urn - I've been getting many requests for this and I love pulling together small prints to go on these urns. Everyone has their own way of honoring beloved companions that have passed - spreading their ashes, burying them at a pet friendly cemetery, placing them in an urn or box and placing them on the mantle. Whatever speaks to you, taking the time to mark the passing of time and memorializing the short lives of our canine companions is incredibly meaningful and a powerful part of the mourning process. 

We are all mortal beings. It hurts, it’s beautiful, it’s the foundational reality of sharing our lives with dogs. Saying hello and saying goodbye changes us humans forever. Godspeed little Harley. You’re a very good dog.

 San Francisco Dog Photographer

San Francisco Dog Photographer

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A Doberman in Santa Fe

 Deuce the Doberman, photographed in Santa Fe

Deuce the Doberman, photographed in Santa Fe

I photographed Deuce for a good friend of mine here in Santa Fe recently. Once he moved into his beautiful new home, he realized it was finally time for a dog. And that's when he found Deuce - having just been pulled off the streets and sheltered with a local Santa Fe Doberman Rescue group. Deuce didn't know exactly what he was getting into when he arrived at his new home, and neither did my friend. This house was new, and together they quickly turned it into a home. 

Deuce is a complete lap dog. A very large lap dog, who grins from ear to ear as soon as he jumps on the couch. Once in a while he looks out the window and lets out a warning bark at passersby, then lazily flops himself down on his bed and plays with his favorite de-fluffed skunk toy. This dog has found the true meaning of happiness, and so has his human. They are quite the beautiful pair. 

Here are a few more favorite portraits from this Santa Fe dog photography session. 

 Santa Fe dog photography: Jesse Freidin

Santa Fe dog photography: Jesse Freidin

 Santa Fe dog photography: Jesse Freidin

Santa Fe dog photography: Jesse Freidin

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Dog Photography Feature in Photographer's Forum Magazine

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When I was a part-time student at City College of San Francisco - running between my Intro to Darkroom Printing class and my Intro to Studio Lighting class and my portfolio reviews and my hours and hours in the photo lab - I would see this beautiful magazine sitting on tables and scattered throughout the campus. I revered it, and loved how well it was curated. Photographer's Forum Magazine highlights what they call 'emerging professionals' which really just means photographers who are young in their careers (15 years or less maybe?) and are making waves in the art community. 

The editors of Photographer's Forum Magazine put a lot of time and effort into finding contemporary photographers who are consistently making good work with a strong visual message. Needless to say, I was very honored when one of their writers reached out to me a few months ago asking if the magazine could do a feature on me in their Summer Issue. Of course, I said! 

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Their printing and reporting and layout is just top notch, and I'm so honored to have my work grace the pages of this wonderful magazine. 

You can also read an excerpt of the article online: https://pfmagazine.com/2018/magazine/jesse-freidin-exploring-the-canine-and-human-bond/

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Art Tells the Story of the Dog/Human Bond

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This was a very weird impulse-buy I picked up at the grocery check out the other day. First, I didn't even know Life Magazine still existed. Second, I have to admit: I was curious if someone had finally cracked the code and could offer a solid explanation of why dogs and humans are so intertwined. Spoiler alert- Life Magazine definitely did not crack any code. They did, however, throw together a $13 "special issue" on "dogs" that "explains" a bit about the "history" of the dog/human bond in quite simple (yet fairly accurate) terms. I just couldn't say no to the clean cover design, the iconic Life Magazine logo. And hey, it was better than buying a candy bar. 

This special dog expose was packed with full page images, because everyone knows that people buy magazines for the photos. It walked the reader through a bit of the history of the dog/human bond - from ancient domestication, to Egyptians and Japanese cultures depicting canines in their art, to examples of the earliest photographs ever printed in the 1800s featuring dogs, to how the dog became America's family pet starting in the 1920s. Then it went into a bit about contemporary dogs in culture - from service dogs to pets etc. All in all it was fairly interesting, if not a bit mundane (if you're a dog nerd like me and devour any and all dog-science related books and articles, this issue didn't really bring up anything new). 

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You know what the take-away was for me, though? Not to be predictable, but it was the art. 

Art tells the story of the dog/human bond, from ancient cave drawings to glamorous Renaissance  paintings to early Daguerrotypes and black and white photos from the 1920s (when photography just started to hit the main stream). Every society throughout history has been understood through it's art - what a society looks at and values visually is the code to understanding their culture. And humans as a whole have valued our relationship with dogs for centuries. We just can't stop looking at them and making art about them. Therefore, it is obvious how crucial they are to the human experience. 

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However, the only good imagery in this magazine was the old stuff. The ancient paintings, of course, were wonderful. And the vintage dog photographs were beautiful. But you know what was not beautiful? The contemporary 'pet photos' the Time Life included in this issue. They were weak, bleak, and boring. Snapshots of pets jumping and over-done photos of dogs in the studio photographed with an exaggerated wide angle lens. Boring! Time Life could have easily found some real contemporary dog artists for their articles on modern pets, but instead they went with what was easy: stock photos of 'pets.' Yuck. (The photos I've shown here are the good vintage ones).

The discrepancy between the quality imagery (from the 1950s) and the vapid, snooze-fest imagery (from the 2000s) was remarkable. I spend a lot of time pondering how our society went from regaling dogs and the art of photography, to being inundated with terrible, cheesy, unprofessional 'pet pics.' 'Pet Pics' is a term I hate with a passion because it is the complete opposite of what I am trying to create with my work. Vintage dog portraits like the ones I've copied here continue to inspire me to dig deep and push myself. They illustrate a truthfulness and passion and complexity that is lacking in so much imagery today - but there are some artists that are doing good dog work out there. We just need to keep supporting them. 

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Creative Resources Conference in the Berkshires

I'm honored to be a presenter at the third annual Creative Resources Conference next week, in Dalton MA (that's in the Berkshires). This event is really special. It brings together creatives, artists, small business owners, marketers, web developers, designers, craftspeople and more for a full day of workshops. Focused specifically on the creative economy (that's the local system of artistic small businesses) in the Berkshires, this wonderful conference is a way for creatives to learn how to improve their small businesses, connect with other creatives and grow their network of colleagues and collaborators. 

I'll be part of the afternoon set of marketing presentations. Our panel will run from 3:00 - 4:15pm and will focus on social media for artists. I'm so excited to chat with my fellow presenters about how artists can use social media in an authentic and effective way. We'll have a great moderator guiding our discussion, and I know there will be so much amazing information shared between all of us. If you're a Berkshire creative/artist and run your own business, this is THE conference for you. 

 

 

Artists & Creatives: Stepping Up with Social Media    3:00 - 4:15pm
For many artists, social media is used strictly to catch up with family and connect with friends. It can be a great tool for businesses, but some artists don’t know how to create content about their work and process. Knowing when to post and, more importantly, what to say can be difficult and time-consuming. This session will provide best practices for artists who want to give their creative enterprise a boost using social media.

Jesse Freidin, Jesse Freidin Photography
Sienna Patti, Sienna Patti Contemporary
Kaitlyn Pierce, Pierce Social
Dawn Stanyon, Professionality Consulting (Moderator)

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Hire an Artist, Don't Price Shop

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The dog photography market is flooded. That's a fact. But so is every other photography market right now- weddings, family portraits, events, school photos, newborns etc. The world of commissioned art has changed drastically even in the ten years that I've been participating. Photographers are starting businesses without any knowledge whatsoever of camera basics, and film makers are using their iPhones to produce award-winning movies. Like so many other aspects of our contemporary world, technology has led us farther and farther away from the core of the matter. People are looking for fast, easy, cheap and homogenous as opposed to intentional, man-made and truly unique. 

So how do you go about finding the right artist to commission? It's honestly overwhelming at this point, with so many artists in all mediums coming at you from all directions, vying for your attention. Instagram and Facebook are great platforms, but it is a level playing field. By that I mean that anyone can use (and should use) social media. However, there are no filters or rules on social media to separate quality working artists from hobbyists, beginners and copy-cats. It can be difficult to sift through all the dog photographers on social media. It's also a challenge to find the right artist through a Google/etc search because some people are putting a lot of time into their SEO, adwords, key phrases and more. Just because an artist is good at web development does not mean their work is authentic and meaningful, or unique. 

When clients commission me they have found something in my photography, in the copy on my website, in the authentic messages I am putting forth through my marketing, that speaks to them. I believe that what motivates my clients is a sense of trust - they trust that I will listen to their stories and needs with genuine focus and understand the emotionality of the portraits they want to create. To me, the best advertising is authenticity, incredibly high quality products and very clearly proven results. I'm not worried about what everyone else in my market is charging, what their work looks like or how I can possibly please everyone. All I'm concerned about is creating authentic work and deeply connecting with my clients. As an artist, that's really all I can do. And after doing things this way for the past ten years, it seems to be enough. 

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Museum of Dog is OPEN!

I'm thrilled to announce that the Museum of Dog has finally opened it's doors! It feels like it was only yesterday that David York, the museum's owner/director, stepped into my studio during last year's Open Studios at the Eclipse Mill and introduced himself. He mentioned that he had just bought the old bar down the street and was going to turn it into a dog art museum. To be honest, I didn't believe him. Not until we really got to know each other and I heard all about his deep passion for dog art, his extensive and eclectic art collection, and his plans for cleaning up the old dive bar. 

Now that old dive bar has been totally turned around - while still retaining a certain amount of rustic New England charm. The Museum of Dog feels like walking into the personal collection of one of the country's biggest dog art collectors. And, that's exactly what it is. Walking in the door of the museum you're greeted by dog sculpture (both contemporary and antique), paintings (both fine art and folk art), photographs (both professional - ie Wegman - and found art), newspaper clippings, vintage dog collars and much more. It has the feel of a warm living room, and you get a personal tour of all the artifacts if you sign up online: www.museumofdog.com/location-reserve-tour

I'm honored to be exhibiting at the Museum of Dog in their rotating gallery. My dog photography show just went up on the walls, and the museum will soon have copies of my books for sale as well. Please join me for the museum's grand opening on Friday April 27th. More info to come about that on my Facebook page (which is right here: www.facebook.com/jessefreidin )

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One-on-One Dog Photography Mentoring Sessions

If you haven't heard yet, I'm now offering one-on-one dog photography Mentoring Sessions, and I'm pretty excited about it! I love helping other photographers succeed. It's a real win-win for everyone because not only do Mentoring Sessions allow my students to learn and grow and build their business properly and achieve true success - it also is a chance for me to revisit all the lessons I've learned over the past ten years while running my own successful dog photography business. And trust me, I've learned A LOT. I've made so many mistakes, and I share all of those mishaps with my students so that they can avoid the same pitfalls. I also share all my knowledge of the industry (which, after having been in the dog photography world for the past ten years, is pretty vast), marketing and networking techniques that really work, how to create an authentic and unique photographic style, and so much more. 

There is no 'right place' to start from. Some of my students are truly starting from scratch, not even knowing how to use their camera. Other students have vast photographic backgrounds and are just starting out in the dog photography world. And yet other students have an established dog photography business, and are looking for help rebranding or growing. These are all perfect jumping off points. Because each student is different, my one-on-one approach really works well. As someone who grew up with major learning differences, I believe that we all learn best when we get to participate in building a personalized curriculum. And that's exactly what we do in our dog photography Mentoring Sessions. 

The first step is a quick (and of course free) call with me to chat about where you're at, what your goals are, and how I can best help support your success. 

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An Old Chihuahua on the Couch

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I've been cleaning out my hard drive recently, and have unearthed some real gems. Like this dog portrait from many, many years ago. It's such an old image that I don't even remember the session.... I'm sure it was photographed in San Francisco at the beginning of my career because I was still using my Hasselblad 500c (and Ilford HP5 medium format film, of course. What else even is there?) Why do I love black and white dog photography so damn much? Because it does not flood the viewer with unnecessary information- like color. All that's left are tones of gray (and trust me, there are a lot of tones), and emotion. That is a pure recipe for success, in my opinion. It's what I've based my entire dog photography career on, and it's an approach that just does not get tired or dated. 

Shooting in color, and relying on saturation and wide angles and close ups and silly mishaps like tongues lolling out or grass on a dog's face - all these things are crutches. They are tricks, short cuts even. Instead of filling a portrait with depth, meaning, emotion, story etc so many dog photographers these days rely on the 'whoops!' factor - hoping they'll get lucky and capture something cute by shooting on auto mode and blanketing the scene with a million exposures. It's certainly an approach that has been proven to be popular, I can say that for sure. But it creates vapid work. 

Put your camera on manual, connect with your subject, be in the moment fully and make work with meaning. That's what matters at the end of the day. If this image had been photographed on color film, it could possibly feel a little bit cute. But in black and white all you have are the expressive eyes, that quirky snuggle tooth, the gentle head tilt where obvious we know the dog's human is just out of frame. This is all the kind of content that makes a client tear up, and makes for an unforgettable image. I'm so glad I dug this one up. 

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Santa Fe Dog Photography

 Santa Fe fine art dog photography

Santa Fe fine art dog photography

For the next six months I'll be living and working in Santa Fe, New Mexico to develop a personal photography project and take a breather after a few very busy years of dog photography commissions, multiple exhibitions and completing a book tour. Pheyoo! During this time I'll be accepting Santa Fe Dog Photography commissions in and around the Santa Fe area. 

Not only is Santa Fe one of the most beautiful parts of the country, it is full of my favorite kinds of people: dog owners and art lovers. The light is magical, the landscape is inspiring, and the dogs are all really, really good. I'm looking forward to working with my new Santa Fe dog photography clients, as well as taking time to refill my creative cup. 

If you'd like to chat about scheduling a Santa Fe Dog Photography Session, please get in touch via the CONTACT page. 

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