This week I tested a new backdrop at home. I had to have help to do that.
Rhys enjoys photography. Outside. While he's enjoying the elements.
For studio work he has a threshold, and he thoughtfully communicates when he's engaged, when he's tolerating it for my sake, and when he's had enough.
Here, he's tolerating it for my sake.
Rhys dislikes studio lighting. In this image, there is little of the easy charisma and warmth that we know and love in him, and that's probably because he didn't feel like himself. He was unsettled. His "eyebrows" are up and his ears are back.
You don't want a photograph that shows anxiety or any sort of unsettled feeling.
If your dog is like Rhys, you want to see something like the photograph below.
Here he is outside, picking up scents in the woods, tracking squirrels, and being himself. He's alert. His face is relaxed and his ears are forward.
When you choose a photographer, it's important to consider the style of photography, the style of the photographer, and how those interact with the style and personality of you and your companion. When they don't match, you'll see a lot of photographs that show distress.
Your photographer can be kind and nonthreatening and still elicit a stress reaction if personalities and styles don't match. Rhys and I love each other to pieces, and he modeled for me because I asked him to. Immediately after this yawn, I turned off the lights because he politely indicated he would like to do something else.
He is adorable, though, isn't he?
The photographs you receive of your animal family should look and feel like your animal family. These are the questions I like to ask when I'm shopping for a photographer. One of the most important ones on this list is about scheduling a time and place to meet everyone who will attend the session.
Reviewing the photographer's portfolio will help you decide if you are a good match. What does your gut tell you? Will her photographs fit right in with your decor at home or in your office? If you have your heart set on studio work, is that what she does best? Can you see your family in her photographs?
I've also found that photographers who work with animals have further specialties that follow their hearts. One person may be a wizard with cats. One may be an advocate for bully breeds and relates to them beautifully. One may have a heart for seniors and the patience to give them the time they need without rushing. One may be a former barrel racer and love to capture horses in motion. One may have invested 20+ years of her life in showing dogs and "gets" that culture.
And you might find one like me, who focuses on the imperfections we carry in our hearts and the fullness of relationships as they age and face adversity (and who "gets" giant dogs).
The ultimate decision, however, belongs to my non-human family. If Rhys is comfortable upon meeting (and the photographer is technically sound and within our budget), I'm good. Oddly enough, the cats in our family love everyone, so they aren't reliable barometers. When everyone feels good about the decision and you've confirmed the photographer's skill and style meet your needs, you can look forward to amazing portraits.
I'm Shannon, and I love and am loved by four Great Danes, four cats, and one horse (four Danes, one cat, and one horse are no longer walking this earth). Here I'll share stories of my adventures in grief photography for companion animals, my own grief journey, and thoughts on caregiving.