Brady and Ferguson

Brady and Ferguson

These two cuties are Brady and Ferguson. They turned 9 in June which makes me shake my head in disbelief because I've known them since they were 3 months old. Their dad contacted me back in September 2009 and they've been a client ever since. I see them every day while their dad is at work.

Dog Photography in Charlotte NC

  dog photography in Charlotte NC

Dog Photography is something I have grown to love. I started See Spot Run Dog Walking in 2009 and in 2016 I launched BARKography my dog photography company here in Charlotte. Here is a link to my dog photography website: BARKography.  I write at least one blog post / week on the site.  You can see some of my latest work there and read about my journey to become a dog photographer.

When I got my first camera, I knew next to nothing about dog photography. I actually didn't even realize there was much to learn about photography. Early on I got really frustrated with myself and my camera. I didn't understand why my photos weren't any good and why they were frequently blurry. For those of you who try to take photos of your moving dogs with your phone, you know it's hard. If they're sitting still it's easier (still hard but easier) but when they're moving, it's almost impossible to get a cell phone photo.

local dog photography

Fast forward to today and I am in love with dog photography. I love my camera. I love learning new things about photography and I love trying out new lenses. For my birthday, I got a lens that allows me to take really close up shots that are super sharp and clear. I love those types of photos: close ups of their eyes or their fur. I feel like I can see my dog's soul through his eyes. I know I'll cherish the photos that I'm taking of them forever.

I think cell phone photos are great. They're great for capturing the moment but if you want to ever print out your photos, your cell phone photos aren't going to look very nice. I'm a big advocate for printing your photos. Even before I got into photography, I'd print my photos. I have a zillion photos of my first 2 dogs Sam and Sloan but none of them are very good. I'm so glad that the photos I have of Willow and Moose are nice quality, printable photos.

I saw a stat recently that 20-30 year olds are the most photographed generation ever but their kids and grandkids won't ever see photos of them in their younger years because all the photos are cell phone shots - the ones people never print.  There's a hashtag #printyourphotos (I'm not making that up!)

If you'd like photos of your dog, contact me. Don't wait. Time goes by too fast and you don't want to have any regrets about not having decent photos of your furry kids.

local dog photographer

Do Dogs Remember Each Other?

I'd love to know if dogs remember each other. I did a BARKography photo session earlier this week with Baxter, a dog that used to live in Charlotte and now he lives in Florida. I was introduced to Baxter and his family through my neighbor Tiffany. I'd done a photo session with Tiffany's dog Jack and when Baxter's parents saw the photos, they wanted to have a session with Baxter and they wanted to have photos of the 2 dogs together. The dogs used to play together all the time when they both lived in Charlotte. I did an early morning session with just Baxter and later that day, I met up with Baxter at the Mint Museum and Jack joined us there. Seeing the two of them run around and play was a lot of fun.

do dogs remember each other

I've been thinking about it a lot since then and I wonder, do dogs remember each other? I have no scientific reasoning behind this but I think they do.

I know there are studies about a dog's memory and many say dogs don't remember things but I tend to question that. I think they remember certain things or events. When we rescued our black lab Buddy, he cowered if you lifted your hand over his head. I feel pretty certain he'd been hit in the past - he had to remember that and seeing a hand raised over his head made him remember being hit in the past, right? I can tell you over the last 6 years of his life, he was never hit again.

When Baxter and Jack saw each other, the first thing they did was sniff each other. There were a few other dogs around so they sniffed them all too but then they ran around together and played. I even captured a quick pic of Baxter giving Jack a little lick on his nose.

BARKography dog photography

I do think dogs remember each other. Perhaps it has something to do with their sense of smell. Perhaps they remember the dog's scent. Seeing Baxter and Jack together was really sweet. I'm so glad I was there to witness it.

If you want to see more photos of Baxter, head over to my BARKography blog where I wrote a post about our time together.

Project 52: week 29: Backlight

First of all, my apologies to the other photographers for my late entry into our project 52 challenge. I've had an exciting couple of days and I have been distracted. I was really excited when I saw the challenge for this week because I love images with backlight. I had the pleasure of working with Charlotte Reeves of Charlotte Reeves Photography when I was in Spain in April at Barkelona. She is famous for the way she backlights her subjects so I got to learn from the best. However learning and then actually doing proved to be 2 different things. :) backlight

Here is the story of my shots for this week.

I've been working on getting a new logo made for BARKography. My thought was to try and use my lab Moose (you know.... the crazy one) as the model for my logo. My goal was to use him in these backlighting shots and also create an image to use for my logo. I had been texting with a friend about this and she offered to help me with crazy Moose.... get this, at sunrise! She is a good friend.


We met at Freedom Park which is a nice park, with a large lake and stone bridge. I have an app that helps me see where the sun is going to rise, it gives you the golden hour times (the app is The Photographer's Emphemeris) so I felt pretty prepared.  The app is fairly complicated (to me anyway) and what it would've told me but I failed to do was check the elevation. It will determine elevation and the surrounding terrain and factor that in and I skipped that step. If you've been to Charlotte NC before, there are lots of tree.  Lots. Of. Trees. Said trees were interfering with my sunrise shots.



My biggest takeaway from the weekend was to assess the location and work with what it is giving me. I'd gone into the session thinking that I could take photos of Moose with the lake in the background and the backlight behind him which was perfect because the sun was rising behind the lake. What I didn't learn until after the session was that all that water and sky behind my dark brown dog was tricky at best to get the proper exposure.

This is a blog circle. Click the link at the bottom of each post and you'll end up right back here. I can't wait to see the other's photographs using backlighting. Next up is St. Cloud based & serving central Minnesota, About A Dog Photography.

Pet Photography Project 52: Week 23 Learn to Sketch

Week 23 of our project 52 challenge has the title Learn to Sketch. When I read this, I really didn't know what to expect and then the first paragraph states: "The idea that this craft is easy gets unfairly promoted from all kinds of corners, not the least of which are the camera companies themselves. But it's not easy. No new camera will help you 'shoot like a pro...' " This resonates with me on so many levels. I was guilty of thinking this way. A year and a half ago when I bought my first professional camera, I thought I'd buy the camera and boom, I'd be a professional dog photographer. Wow, was I wrong. I had no idea there was so much to learn and I know I need to do a better job of educating others about everything that goes into creating an image that has an impact on its viewer. It is hard. It is frustrating. It is expensive. It is time consuming. It is amazing. It is worth it. It is gratifying. It is humbling.

I truly love it.

If it wasn't hard, everyone could do it and everyone's photos would be great.

Back to Learning to Sketch. In our book The Visual Toolbox by David Duchemin, he says and I am paraphrasing: Because we so often see only the final work of the photographers we respect, I think we miss what would be an otherwise eye-opening chance to see their process.  One that he likens to 'sketching.' He says painters sketch out their images and many even have a process that often involves scraping the canvas clean and starting again. He says as a creative person, you have to be open to not getting it right the first time.  You have to be open to playing and to experimenting. He looks at his failed images as rough drafts and he says he makes hundreds of them.

Here is a true story: an amazing photographer whose work I admire so much posted several images recently. I was with her when she took some of them and my images don't look like hers. Her photography skills are certainly better than mine as are her editing skills. I responded to her post by saying: "I mean this in the highest form of flattery but I envy your talent so much it hurts." I want to be that good.

Duhcemin says he keeps his old images and looks back on them and sometimes they take him to new places. They remind him not to get discouraged because they might lead him to the heart of what he's trying to create. The first sentence in our assignment instructions this week: 'Stop being so hard on yourself.' Ha! If he only knew how close to home that hits. Well timed sir, well timed! :)

So I decided to take a look back on some older images of mine. The next two photos are ones I took after having my camera for about 2 weeks. I had no idea what I was doing. For the photogs reading this, I was in Aperture priority (ha! that's a miracle! I now shoot in manual but I half expected to find I'd been in automatic mode.) My settings were f/5, 1/80 and ISO 1000. Typing that makes me laugh. None of those settings make sense at all and at least now I know that. I have made progress, hopefully a lot of progress since Aug 2014.



Back to the challenge this week, to me, this comes down to editing. If you don't get the shot right in the camera, some times there are things that can be done in post processing that will make a photo heaps better. For example if you underexpose the shot because you didn't have a change to change your settings because your subject was moving around, things can be done in post processing to fix this. (I am not at all implying that photographers should rely solely on their post processing to "fix" their images.) Because I feel as though my editing skills are really lacking, I try really hard to get the shot right in the camera. I don't know LR and PS well enough to try and adjust the colors too much. If I do play around with them, inevitably I end up with a green cast on the dog or some sort of result that I don't want.

Here are two images from a photo session I had this past week. I love images that have a lot of bokeh in the background. In this image, as much as I wished that were the case in the background here, it wasn't happening. I'm posting the final version first (but I can't guarantee I won't tweak it some more) and then one of my attempts at working on the background.  My very first attempt at editing involved trying to mirror the left side of the image on the right side. I was trying to get rid of the green leaves because I prefer the background on the left side of the photo. That attempt did not work at all. Just like a painter, I started over and over on this image several times.  My next attempt I tried mirroring the right side on the left side. (see below.) After spending more time that I should admit (it was hours), I went back to the original background. Perhaps next time, I will remember to really look at my background and consider re-framing it when I am composing the shot. Perhaps this will be one of those shots that Mr. Duchemin is talking about when he says that hours, months or even years later he'll go back to one and consider it again.  Perhaps I'll decide that the original is just fine. But if I am being honest, all I was worried about at the time was I had 3 dogs holding a stay in front of me and I needed to take their picture!



Next up in the blog circle is Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati and the San Francisco Bay Area.  Be sure to click the link at the bottom of each post and you'll end up right back here again!

Barkelona Day 2: Photo Session with Pruna and Boira

Every time I go to write a post about my photo sessions in Spain, I think "this photo session I'm writing about resulted in some of my favorite images." I guess I am lucky that way in that I probably have one image from each session that I can call a favorite. These two dogs Boira and Pruna definitely fall into this category. Pruna is a year old Spanish Water Dog and Boira was all puppy! She is a 5 month old Portuguese Water dog. Pruna had just gotten a haircut. Apparently her hair can look a lot like Boira's when it is long. This was my first time meeting a Spanish Water Dog and she was beautiful! Portuguese Water Dog



I really want to get a huge wall art piece of that photo of Boira. (and that is why these photos are LARGE.  I didn't resize them as I usually do.) As a photographer, I take photos and I do have my favorites. That has nothing to do with the dog itself or even how the dog looks, it has to do with my ability as a photographer. I hope that makes sense. This image of Boira is one of those. I never really knew I was drawn to the color yellow but in photography, I am. It's been over a month now that I've been home from Spain and every time I see this photo of Boira, I still love it. I hope that feeling never goes away. I do look at the image and I can see things that aren't technically correct with it but I still love it and hey, I'm the photographer so that is my right! :)