“People are taking more pictures now than ever before, billions of them, but there are no slides, no prints. Just data. Electronic dust. Years from now when they dig us up there won’t be any pictures to find, no record of how we lived.” from the film – KodaChrome
The above quote puts into words for me, why my business is built on creating prints and wall art rather than a disk full of digital images that will get thrown in a drawer or become obsolete as technology changes. If you have ever asked yourself why you would want to have professional photos taken of your pet, let me do a quick countdown for you of my top 5 reasons:
5. Because every animal is a work of art. Do you ever look at your pet and think “that is a gorgeous creature?” They all are. Every. Single. One. Their grace and athleticism is just beautiful. They are all individuals, some with incredible markings and colors others with eyes you could get lost in. The longer you look at them the more you appreciate their beauty.
4. Seeing them in your daily life makes you smile. Most of us can’t take our pets to work with us, but you can frame a picture and put it on your desk or bookshelf. In my office, I have a bookshelf directly across from my desk full of pictures of my dogs. I smile every time I look up from my computer and get to see their silly, beautiful faces! The same at home. I walk through my front door and the first thing I see are pictures of my dogs and me on the wall directly across from my front door. (The second thing I see is a terrier mix doing a happy dance and wagging her tail so hard it hurts. )
3. Because you have, like, 20 outfits for your pet and they need to be seen. I admit it. When I first adopted my Maltese, Surya, I couldn’t wait to buy him shirts and sweaters and bow ties and tiny jackets. Unfortunately, he wasn’t as excited about those things as I was, but I was able to take pictures of him in them and it makes me smile whenever I see them.
2. Because YOUR pet is the cutest pet EVER. As W.R. Purche said “Everyone thinks they have the best dog. And none of them are wrong.” You owe it to the world to share your pet with them!
AND the #1 reason is...
1. No matter how long you have them, it is never long enough. Our pets are only with us for a short time. I lost a beloved dog to a reaction to antibiotics after knee repair surgery when she was only 6 and half years old. I was devastated when she passed, but I have pictures of her from the moment I got her until the day before I lost her. I can see her and remember every beautiful detail of her. She is the reason I choose to take pictures of pets. I want everybody to have that record of their precious baby to keep forever.
My friend Marianne Fraser was kind enough to write this post for me about her experience fostering. I met Marianne after volunteering to take photos of some of Red Collar Rescue’s dogs at their adoption events. My first experience doing these events was eye opening. It was a hot day and we would walk each dog to a grassy area, let them take care of their business, and attempt to get nice pictures to be used for online profiles and social media posts. By the end of the event, I was exhausted, hot and sweaty and completely drained (getting pictures of dogs is quite a workout), but in love with every dog I met and hoping they all found wonderful homes. Marianne did that twice a month for over three years. In addition, she has fostered 22 dogs, ensuring they have the tools they need to live happily in forever homes (with only 2 foster fails) and maintains Red Collar’s various social media outlets. I’m tired just thinking about it!
Working in rescue can be thankless and overwhelming at times. The problem is mind boggling and sad, but it can also be the most noble thing you do with your time. To see scared, abandoned and abused animals blossom under the care and love fosters give them, is an incredible privilege and to be any small part of that is proof that there is good in the world. Enjoy Marianne’s post. I hope it inspires at least a few of you to give it a try and see what part you can play. Marianne's current foster is Elroy, check him out on her Instagram page.
When I brought my first foster dog home, I pretty much knew what I was getting into in terms of having one more dog in my home (I had two, she made three), but I had no idea what else I would learn along the way. I knew I wanted to foster, and I knew I wanted it to be for Red Collar Rescue (in Houston, TX - because of the great experience my then boyfriend had adopting his dog), and I knew I wanted it to be Novella. Something about her just called to me. I didn’t even know her whole story, but I knew she had been waiting in boarding for a while. I later learned she had been part of a cruelty case, and had been confiscated from her prior owner. She had been tied up to a porch and neglected (and surely not treated very nice). She was half the weight that she should have been.
Prior to beginning this journey that started with Novella, I really had no idea about what rescues and shelters were dealing with, or the magnitude of the stray/homeless dog problem in Houston. And I had no idea about these people who were out there putting their whole hearts into trying to do something to help. I mean, I knew there were rescues, but hadn’t really thought much further than that. When you see how many would-be pets are abandoned, neglected, never loved, or even cruelly tortured, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and outnumbered. When you see people lined up at shelters before they are even open to give up on their dogs, it’s disheartening. (And if you look into the faces of those dogs after they are left, it will rip your heart out.) It seems there are more bad guys than good guys. But, I was struck by how many people took part in saying “No, you don’t win” to the horrible person who had mistreated Novella. This one pathetic, skinny, brown, mutt kind of a dog that an army of people helped in some way.
To her prior owner, the Police Officer and Animal Control officer said “No”.
Me and this Army… we said “No, you don’t win. Not this time.”
I can honestly say that getting involved in fostering and volunteering is the best thing I’ve done. I’ve met some pretty amazing people. People who bust their asses day in and day out saving dogs (and cats) – all while keeping up with their “paying” jobs. It’s not for the money (there is none) and it’s not for the glory (there is none)… but just to make a difference in at least some precious little lives. I’ve met people who I consider friends that I would not have otherwise known. I’ve also seen, but will never understand, what the worst side of humanity inflicts upon animals. I’ve seen the aftermath, and I’ve witnessed some recover from it and go on to find happy lives, and some who did not. I’ve laughed, cried happy tears, been pissed off and disappointed (in people), felt helpless, felt empowered, and bawled my eyes out until no tears were left. Sometimes all in one day! But it’s the good parts, and the difference that I can personally make, that I carry with me.
Those who truly understand the enormity of the problems will tell you “We can’t adopt our way out of this”. There just aren’t enough homes for the number of homeless dogs. The battle needs to be fought on many fronts… neuter/spay, education, legislation, even transporting out to states without such a massive stray issue. But, they also know that doing nothing is not an option either.
Intrigued? Good, because so many rescues and shelters need YOU! Don’t be intimidated by the superheroes who seem to have more hours in a day than anyone else. They really can’t do it all and need help. Just do what you can. Be realistic, and most of all, carry through! Know that if you are a person with an innate fear of dog hair touching your white carpet, then fostering may not be your thing. AND THAT IS OK! There are plenty of other things you can do. Rescues need money. They need people to show up to adoption events to help walk dogs. They need help getting dogs transported from the shelter, and to and from events. They need people who can help get crates to events and set them up/take them down after. They need good pictures taken, and bios written that will catch a potential adopter’s attention. They need people to get the word out that there are some really great dogs just waiting for families. They need people to adopt their pets. And they need money (yes, I know I said that twice).
If you are moved to do so, then GET INVOLVED! Be a part of this army. Find your superpower. Contact a rescue (or shelter) and see what they need. Get to doing it, and keep at it. You won’t regret it.
(In case you’re wondering what became of Novella, she is sitting beside me on the couch right now as I write this. After a year of fostering, I finally made her an official part of my little family. She has found her superpower, and has been an amazing big sister to 20 other fosters who have come through my house and gone on to awesome families. Her specialty is getting the shy ones to play… teaching them to “dog”. Once unwanted and unloved, she is now loved to the moon and back, and in her own way is making a difference every day! I love her so much!)
Love and dog kisses!
Follow Red Collar Rescue:
more about Houston’s stray problem:
In the last couple of years, I have been trying to find vacations that I can include my dogs on. If you are like me vacation can be a tradeoff between wanting to enjoy some time away from home and hating the thought of leaving your dogs for an extended period. So my solution has been to take them with me. Now, I am not much of a camper and I’m not likely to sleep out under the stars, so what do I do about finding a place to stay? I’ve discovered that there are a good number of options. Some are more expensive than others but there are options that are very reasonable choices. Here are a few I recommend. I will link the contact info below.
The first place I tried was Crider’s Cabins on the Rio Frio in Leaky, Texas. The property is beautiful with the river running right through it. There are several cabins which are spaced a good distance apart for privacy and it is in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. The prices are very reasonable and the best part was, they welcome dogs. There is no additional charge to bring dogs and the property is big enough to do some nice hikes with your furry pal.
My next trip was to Comfort, Texas to a cabin called “A Lazy S Place.” Also in the Hill Country, “A Lazy S Place” is a cute little cabin that sits on top of a hill with green as far as the eye can see. The host Maggie makes the place comfortable and welcoming for both you and your dogs. The kitchen is completely outfitted with everything you need to prepare meals and there is a beautiful balcony overlooking the property where you can sit and enjoy your morning coffee. Again, reasonable prices and no extra charge for dogs.
We next decided a trip to the beach was in order. Jamaica Joy beach house on Jamaica Beach near Galveston was our choice. The house is completely equipped with everything from entertainment options to a chef’s kitchen. The owners have dogs so they made it a priority to accommodate guests with dogs. The backyard of the house is completely fenced so your dogs can run free to their hearts content (a plus for my city dogs who live in a condo most of the time) and also has a fire pit, gas grill and seating so you can join in on the fun. The beach is a short walk and is less crowded that a lot of the public beaches closer to Galveston. I’m not sure if there is additional charges for bringing your dogs because you book through VRBO and they quote you based on the fact that the dogs are included, but the prices were less than a number of other places and there were not a ton of charges added on for cleaning and damage deposits.
I just recently discovered that La Quinta Hotels are very pet friendly. I had my air conditioner go out one Saturday and decided I didn’t want to sleep in a hot house so the dogs and I went to stay at La Quinta. You don’t even have to tell them you are bringing dogs. You just show up with no more than two dogs and they don’t blink an eye. The one we stayed at gave us a room right next to a door leading out to the “dog area” which was well kept and clean and big enough for my dogs to get some good sniff time in before we headed back to the room for the night. Now that we know how easy it is, we just might blaze a trail across the U.S. hopping from La Quinta to La Quinta!
These are just a few of the places that are dog friendly and it is getting easier and easier to travel with your best friend. I would love to know of any places you have stayed with your dogs. I’m always looking for recommendations!
I’m starting a new series highlighting some of my favorite photographers. These are artists whom I admire, who inspire me and whose photos I could look at over and over and not tire of them.
I am starting with a German photographer named Elke Vogelsang. Elke lives with her husband, and three rescued sight hound/sight hound mixes. She became interested in photography as an outlet after her husband Carsten suffered an brain hemorrhage while in the bathtub and almost drowned. Her dogs created such a ruckus that she decided to check on him and found him moments before slipping under the water. His recovery was long and difficult and she turned to photographing her dogs as a visual diary for him during his recovery and a way to handle the stress.
When I look at Elke’s photos, I see simple, clean and beautiful images. But mostly, I see the dog’s personality. She has an uncanny ability to show her audience what she sees. And what she sees is the essence of the animal, the absolute purity of unconditional love. Her photos are full of soulful looks, silly faces and wonderful thoughtful moments in her dog’s lives. She captures their joy, curiosity and individuality. She celebrates the differences in their personalities. Her book “Nice Nosing You” is a must have. I keep it on my shelf and pull it out any time I need inspiration or just want some joy in my life.
I recently added a “Gift Certificates” page to my website and I wanted to do a little post about how it works. My session fee (the fee to have me come to your home with a portable studio and take pictures of your pet) is $190. Once the pictures are taken, you have the option to buy all the prints you would like without obligation to purchase a certain amount. My mounted (or matted) prints start at $125 for an 8x10 and go up from there. I also offer framed and canvas prints or customized products we can discuss in your consultation. My packages start at $900 and include matted prints and a canvas (number and size depending on the package you purchase). I do not sell digital files, but you will receive the complimentary digital file corresponding to whichever prints you choose, so you will be able to share them on social media or email to family if you choose.
I tell you all this so you can be aware of what you are purchasing when you buy one of my gift certificates. Each certificate has a face value from $100 to $500. That face value will reduce the ending price of the session fee plus whatever print choices the recipient makes. In other words if you purchase a $500 gift certificate, the recipient will have $190 for the session fee and $310 to spend on prints.
So, if you have someone in your life who would love to have photos of their pet, you have a way of helping them towards the total price or covering it completely. If you are someone who would love to have a photo session and have a birthday, graduation or other occasion on the horizon, consider asking friends and family to pitch in by purchasing a gift certificate towards your session.
Hopefully, I helped answer some of your questions about how my gift certificates work. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask below or contact me through the contact form.
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Recent Posts5 Reasons to Have Good Photos of Your Pet Guest Post - Me and This Army So you want to travel with your dog... New Series - My Favorite Photographers - Elke Vogelsang Gift Certificates - How do they work? Grateful Preparing for the Photo Session Be my Valentine The Process - How does a Pet Photography session work? Photographing Cats