Hallmark Channel Rescue Show

Tomorrow night will be a great evening to grab some popcorn and snuggle under a blanket with your furry loved ones because it's the first-ever rescue dog show on the Hallmark Channel! Click here to see the contenders. For many decades purebred dogs have competed for Best in Show titles, and now mutts are being celebrated with their own "competition."

I saw on the Hallmark Channel website that there are great categories, such as Best in Kissing and Best in Snoring. My favorite is Best in Wiggle Butt - ha! I can't wait to see if this event will catch on and will be as fun for viewers as the Puppy Bowl every January.

Be sure to tune in and let me know how you liked the show! Colby is intrigued by other dogs on television so this should be fun to see her reaction. Anything that features dogs, especially with a humorous take, is aces in my book.

Vizsla puppy

I had only met one vizsla in person before this pup, and he was an older dog, so I was very excited to see a puppy vizsla. Plus it's always great fun to see a puppy, no matter what breed! For those not familiar, vizslas are a hunting dog, part of the retrieving group. They are smaller than most of the breeds in their group, which consists of German short-haired pointers and Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers. I was more familiar with those latter breeds so this was a great way to get familiar with the vizsla.

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Here is Kona at just 12 weeks of age. Sweet, floppy, happy, excitable, tired Kona. Her owners actually threw her a "pawty" to welcome her into their lives. They had over 50 people come and meet the pup as of way of introducing her and socializing her. I can't imagine how tired she was after that.

When I met her family at their home for a consultation, they walked me around the house to give me the lay of the land and I noticed they had a couple books on vizslas. Immediately I had this idea for a portrait of Kona reading their books on vizlas. I went to the library and grabbed all the books I could find on vizslas - which was one - and books that had "dog" or "puppy" in the title...hence the book "What the Dog Saw" by Malcolm Gladwell, which is a sociology book. In fact the librarian and I got to talking about vizslas and she knew exactly what they are since she said she has a weimaraner. Small world!

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This looks like a studio shot but I set up my backdrop roll of paper and the books in their living room. Kona did an awesome job. Just 12 weeks old and no collar and leash needed to get her to sit and look at me! The first shot I posted was just too cute - it was her impromptu gnawing of the book that adds so much character to the portrait.

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Disembodied puppy! It's not an illusion or trick of the eye - it's actually Kona lying in the little hammock at the bottom of a cat tower. The day before our photo shoot she climbed in on her own and looked so cute that it was a priority for her family to get a shot of her like that while she's still tiny and able to fit in there! A couple more days and she's probably going to outgrow the hammock. We had just finished a bunch of action shots and she was all tuckered out. She had fallen fast asleep curled up into a tight little ball and her owners said it would be the perfect time to set her in the hammock. Kona is so floppy and flexible that her body was facing the window and she turned her head to look at me at the sound of my squeaker.

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And speaking of action shots! Look at this pup on the move! The duck she's carrying is her favorite toy. It was a present from a guest at her "welcome home pawty." The duck is almost as big as she is! Kona is expected to grow to about 40 pounds. Right now she's putting on two to three pounds a week. Guess that's why she's so sleepy - it's a lot of work to do all that growing!

Want to document your new puppy's first weeks at home? I'd love to talk to you about puppy portraits! Contact me here.

52 week challenge: Depth of field

As I wrote about in a previous post, I'm still getting back to normal from the ImagingUSA conference in Nashville. It was such an inspiring trip that left my head filled with ideas that I now have a wish list of a hundred things to try and far too little time to attempt everything! But I'm getting back into the swing of things, and that includes the 52 week pet photography challenge.

This week's theme is Depth of Field, which can mean creating separation between the subject and the background. Colby was flopped over on the floor in her usual "frog dog" position, as we call it, and I had a long lens on my camera that was wide open. If I had had my usual shorter lens on this should would have been impossible because getting anywhere close to her, at floor level, means she'll immediately hop up and lick my face.

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It's almost like capturing the photo of a wild animal in the Serengeti. Look at that face - she's not exactly a predator, though. This is definitely Colby in her natural state. A rare peek at a hyper beast.

Because I had the aperture wide open I kept Colby's eyes in focus, which kept her nose in focus too. The depth of field goes from about her nose to her ears, and then it gets fuzzier definitely by the point her shoulders start. It causes her reflection in the hardwood to be softer and dreamier too.

Now is time to look at pictures from across the pond! Up next is The Hoof & Hound Photographer covering Lancaster UK. Keep clicking through and you'll wind up back here. Thanks for reading!

Ultimate food lover

Colby loves food more than any other dog I've ever met. She LOOOOVES food. She has her favorites that most dogs love, like peanut butter and cheese and meat. But she loves everything, including carrots, toast, bananas, scrambled eggs... These aren't things we intentionally feed her, but rather food that she's stolen from right in front of us.

I will never forget the time I was cutting up vegetables for a homemade minestrone soup in our kitchen. Colby started begging me for the onion I was chopping. I warned her she wouldn't like raw onion, but when I gave her a tiny piece she chomped it up and started loudly whining, begging for more onion. There's nothing this dog won't eat. We've tried training her but she's the most stubborn little thing! I think she knows how cute she is and uses it to her advantage.

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I made the mistake of sitting this half-eaten bagel on the counter and turning my back. I heard a fast scrape of her nails as she launched herself off the floor vertically, then a loud thudding sound resonated. Here's the moment after I grabbed my camera.

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She’s a cockapoo so her ears naturally hang down and flop around. The fact that they’re airborn cracks me up. She really got some height in those jumps!

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Almost got it! I didn’t let this go on for long. Just a few hops and clicks of the camera to document her downright "dogged" determination (I can’t resist a canine pun)!

 

Imaging USA in Nashville

Hello friends!

I just got back from Nashville, Tennessee, where I was among 10,000 professional photographers attending the amazing Imaging USA conference. This was my first time attending the conference and it was a blast!

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Thanks to the ice storm that was promising to paralyze Ohio and Kentucky and Tennesse on Friday, I decided that instead of leaving Saturday morning, I'd flee Columbus on Thursday. This gave me a ton of extra time in Nashville. Tennessee got about two inches of snow and didn't know how to handle it. The local news showed semi trucks lying in ditches along the highway and children excitedly dancing and playing in the tiny amount of snow on the ground.

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Here's a group of pet photographers who met for lunch inside the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Conference Center.

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I had lunch with a group of cat photographers, including Kim Stephenson. She is an amazing artist and I was excited to hear how to created her award-winning portraits.

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The conference was held inside the hotel so thank goodness I didn't have to go outside in the ice storm! I left Columbus on Thursday and didn't return until the following Wednesday. I can't believe I remembered where I parked my car at the hotel, it felt like I was there for so long!

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It was fantastic to meet so many talented photographers!

It was great to learn from and get ideas from other photographers from across the country. I was one of 10,000 professional photographers there!

I watched an eagle photographer demonstrate how to photograph a falcon, had lunch with a group of talented cat photographers, and learned how one pet photographer got her start with guinea pigs. I finally met people I've only talked to online and blogged with, and I got to learn techniques from many other areas of photography, like headshots and fashion and fine art.

Here are a few photos from the conference. Most of my photos are cell phone pictures of inside the Gaylord Opryland Hotel because it's so unusual; I'm including a few other photos courtesy of fellow photographers who kindly shared them with me. They snapped pictures that capture the happy excitement we felt to be there! Thanks for reading and we'll be back to usual business right away!

Goldendoodle at Highbanks

Sparty is a playful, very obedient two-year-old goldendoodle. He recently moved to Ohio with his family from Florida. He had just a couple cold months up north so this was his first autumn living here. We found a nice spot beside the Scioto River to take a sunset portrait before playtime.

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His people had never been to Highbanks, so this was a fun adventure for his family and Sparty himself.

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They found lots of new spots to let him run, play, and do his favorite activity of all... chasing Frisbees! Notice I didn't write catch Frisbees, but he sure tries his best at chasing them then retrieving them after they've landed. He's such a happy, goofy, active boy. I'm glad his family has a new place to explore with him. I was happy to introduce them to such a nice park like Highbanks!

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Look at those big paws.

One more - his family loves this black and white shot.

Two kittens in Worthington, Ohio

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These beautiful kittens are only about six months old and couldn't be more different. Laka, the brown striped cat, is the most playful kitten I've ever seen. It was non-stop playtime for Laka. She turned into a bit of a ham! She is clearly a very social cat because she took right to me, the camera, my lights, my noise-makers, everything. She was especially intrigued when I was setting up my larges pieces of equipment in her living room. Then when it was her turn, Laka was so patient and gave me the prettiest expressions with different angles of her face and eyes.

Next was Hilo, who did not want much to do with me! She watched from afar and bolted every time I went near her. Hilo got on the perch where I had photographed Laka then jumped down after one shot. Then guess who hops right up again? Laka. She was ready for more pictures to be taken!

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Above is Laka, giving an encore performance of her modeling debut.

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Hilo let me take exactly one shot where I wanted her and she made it a good one. I caught her later playing on the stairs and grabbed this shot.

We tried feathers, tinkly cat noisemakers, ribbons, even raw minnows (yum!) and Hilo wasn't being enticed by any of it. Laka, however, was ALL ABOUT the ribbons and streamers and pretty much anything she could get her tiny paws around.

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In our consultation, one shot that was important to get was the two kitties looking out the window. There is a birdfeeder just outside and they like to gaze out the window. I loved the high-contrast feel in black and white for this photograph.

We got many more photos of the kittens and their owners, who loved the family portraits with everyone, including the cats. I'm thrilled to add some kitties to my list of animals I've photographed. It's been almost all dogs and a couple rabbits before now!

Do you have a cat who likes to stare out the window or cuddle and snuggle? Contact me here now for in-home family portraits featuring your beloved pets! I'd love to chat about your ideas for indoor cat portraits.

Ugly Christmas Dog Sweater

For this week in the 52-week dog photography blog challenge, it's Ugly Christmas Sweaters! I can't wait to see what everyone photographed lately.

I must put on a disclaimer - I believe the "Ugly Christmas Sweater" became an ironic trend a few years back, so it's actually cool to wear a really tacky or garish holiday sweater nowadays! We mean no offense saying a sweater is ugly, and not all of these are ugly by any means. So some dog sweaters may be ironic or some may be sincere, but all these sweaters are awesome because they're on some pretty amazing pups.

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This shar pei was WOUND UP. She looks so serious but she was all over the place excited. It was a miracle I caught this shot of her looking in my direction. The costume and the star hat that her family brought her in maybe got her a little too excited for holiday photos! I love that little wrinkly face.

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The only downside of seeing SO many dogs is that I didn't have a chance to properly snuggle this little black puppy. I couldn't believe he kept on his cap and the little matching socks the whole time! His big brother the yellow retriever had on a quilted sweater that I didn't get a chance to see much of but it's equally festive.

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And then we have Miss Ellie. This girl is a PARTY ANIMAL, excuse the pun. We have other photos of her looking at the camera, but her little matching sequined hat doesn't show up as well in those. This photo shows off her ensemble. I have no idea where her family found this kicky Santa hat but I want an adult one for myself.

Thanks to the 250+ dogs who came out to PetPeople in December for holiday portraits! We had a blast seeing some really lovely holiday sweaters and some amazingly ugly Christmas sweaters on very sweet dogs. Be sure to check out the next pet photography blog by Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati and the San Francisco Bay Area. Merry Christmas and happy holidays!