I want people to be happy with my pictures. I really do. Capturing personality with a camera is one thing I think I do solidly, and I'm honest when I don't feel I make a connection with a dog. Relationships can't be force or rushed - I'm glad to refer awesome dog people to another photographer who might be a better fit.
This is one of the reasons why I decided to work with giant dogs only. I get giants. I know how they move, I can anticipate their behavior, and I'm comfortable with the hallmark characteristics.
Sofa inspection and testing, thunderous running, barking that can be heard blocks away, leaning, slobber slobber slobber slobber.
Slobber is a way of life for me and has been for a long time. I've washed it off walls and the headliner of my vehicle. I've picked up those long strings between two tightly pinched fingers and barely held on to them long enough to flick them to more appropriate places. They're really slippery! I've washed so many drool towels. I've wiped slobber off my face, hands, pants and off my boys' faces and lips. Occasionally they smear a cat with it, too, and that cleanup isn't pretty.
I consider slobber a feature to embrace. Those strings that wrap around snouts during play are my favorite. I believe slobber tells a story. I believe that we should have pictures of our loved ones as they are and as we know and love them every day rather than idealized canine glamour shots. Most people who have seen my work pick up on this even if they don't realize it because I do not edit out slobber, dirt, rogue hair, or other cosmetic misfits.
I love them. I celebrate them. Those non-perfect features are what make some of the most endearing shots. When I look at pictures of my boys, I prefer the ones where slobber is flying ('cause that's really cool when it's frozen in mid-air for all time), an ear is turned inside-out, or something else unpretty is happening. I prefer those because that's how my boys are and were. That's how I loved them and saw them every day.
Recently I chatted with a potential client who wanted portraits of her two mastiffs. We met at a park while her dogs played and it seemed we were a good match. Then she asked me how much I charged to edit out drool. Because, you know, mastiffs.
I really wanted to be the photographer, storyteller, and artist she wanted me to be because her dogs were so much fun and I thought we would all get on famously together. I had to tell her that I don't do that sort of thing and explained my take on it. I recommended a photographer in Seattle and wished her well.
So if you are after pretty and ideal, that's not my thing. I shoot what I see, and what I see is all kinds of love and adventure and excitement about being alive today and smelling this ooooh what's going on over here hey there is someone in the yard! That's what I do.
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.