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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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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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