Wednesday, October 19, 2011


The other photographer didn't work out for the local dog rescue, so I arranged to set aside one morning a week to photograph homeless animals in my studio.  The rescue organization has been bringing me oodles of props and costumes and donating them to my budding photography studio in exchange for the donation of my time and skills.  They bring adorable things like reindeer antlers for dogs and cats, mardi gras beads, Hawaiian leis, Boy Scout scarves, pumpkins and other holiday props.

While doing the photo shoot I kept thinking, "A person who does what she loves never has to work a day in her life."

The only problem is that I have to exercise self-control.  At every photo shoot I meet at least one dog that I want to adopt.  My husband made me promise that if I started volunteering at the animal shelter I had to agree that I would not adopt anymore animals.  I have to respect that, because I'm a deep sleeper and my husband is the one who gets up during the night to let the dogs outside to do their business.  Scrappy hasn't been a problem, because he never asks to go outside unless he's sick.  Otherwise, he just goes out when we tell him to go out.  Most of the time we have to force him out, because if we let him, he will hold it forever.  However, if I happen to adopt a dog with a weak bladder, that would really mess with my husband's sleep schedule and his ability to do his job during the day.

With this latest photo shoot, this was the dog that melted my heart...

She was so tiny and lightweight.  She climbed right into my lap and licked my face.  Most dogs of her stature are neurotic and shake out of fear, but this gal was really easygoing.  I was disappointed that Scrappy didn't turn out to be a lapdog.  If I adopted this girl, I already know that she's a lapdog.  I also know that we would have to be very careful where we put our feet, because she weighs less than a bunny rabbit and has bird-like bones.  We'd have to keep her on a harness when we take her outside, because our local barn owl will swoop down, pick her up, and carry her away to its nest for dinner.  I keep concentrating on the bad points in order to prevent myself from bringing her home and giving my husband one more reason to divorce me.

Here are some of my favorite pics from the rest of the shoot...

I'm trying harder to act on photograph opportunities.  Much of the time I will think to myself that something would make a great photo, but I'm usually too busy to actually stop what I'm doing, go get the camera and set it up for the photograph.  Anyway, I've been having problems taking spontaneous photos of horses and their owners.  I like to capture the naturalness between animals and people, but a lot of horse owners have it in their heads that their horse has to be perfectly groomed, and perfectly posed to show the best conformation and traits of the breed, etc.  Some horse owners won't let me photograph their horses unless they have complete control over how their horse looks, and they themselves don't want to be in the picture at all interacting with their horse.

I also have many show horse owners push me away saying, "I have my own professional photographer."  Well, I'm not trying to sell them anything.  I just want to practice photography on their horse.  However, the show horse owners are so fearful of a bad picture of their horse getting out onto the Internet that they won't cooperate.

I started thinking about how horse owners behave as if their horses are celebrities.  They take the same precautions with photographs as human celebrities do with the paparazzi.  My husband likened them to the mothers in "Toddlers with Tiaras".  We agreed that I've got a good thing going photographing homeless pets.  People aren't picky and allow me artistic license.  Backyard horse owners also seem to be more enthusiastic about my photographs of their horses than professional horse breeders and showers.  The pros won't even let me near them or give me a chance.  So, I've decided that rather than trying to break into such a tight clique, I'm going to start expanding more in the direction of people portraits, since most small, domestic animal pet owners are not willing to pay for pet portraits in this economy.  However, there still are people willing to spring for professional portraits of their kids and other loved ones.


Laura said...

It must be fun to use all of the costumes and props to do the animal pictures! I liked the white dog and the black cat with the pumpkins!

I would have to be careful volunteering at a shelter as well - I'd want to bring them all home.

I hope you can find more opportunities for your photography business.

strivingforsavvy said...

You might try being the professional photographer at ACTHA rides near you. I know I would appreciate any photos that were taken of my horse and me.

Deanna said...

Please tell me that you did adopt that adorable little girl!! (mini pin?) She is precious!!
Though I LOVE this: "giving my husband one more reason to divorce me." hahaha . . . I certainly relate!! Thankfully our hubbies are made of tough stuff and they stay with us, eh?
These photos are nothing less than fabulous!!!
Interesting to hear about how hard it is to photograph the "pro" horse people! Sheesh!!
Great post!!

fernvalley01 said...

I love the animal photos, and that first little dog! What a sweetie!

KarenTX said...

The photos are marvelous! Is there a horse rescue in your area? I bet they'd love to have some good pics for their website.

Jeni said...

great pictures Nuzz! I like the white dog better than the tiny one, but most likely because of the same reasons you listed about the breed - neurotic!

Let me chime in for a moment on the "show horse owner", and their reluctance to allow you to photograph their horse. Me personally - photograph away but let me proof them if you intend to post them. The last show I did, I had my own photographer, but the show photographer actually got my name from the show registry, found me on facebook and sent me proofs of the photo's she took. I was OK with this approach. She didn't bother me that day, she sent proofs that were trademarked so I couldn't reproduce, and offered them available as digital downloads at a reasonable cost. I ended up purchasing a couple that were amazing.

I'm more picky about my show dogs, because I do breed my dogs. I want as perfect photo as I can get of my dog posted to the public. The problem that I run into at dog shows, is the Win Photographer is in such a hurry that they don't wait until both the handler AND the dog is set. They snap three and pick the best. Often the handler has mouth gaping, or eyes closed, and dog is just "ok". I will only purchase pictures I can proof first, and if neccessary fix with photoshop without inteferring with the actual quality of the dog. Meaning I don't doctor toplines, but I have moved a foot back because the dog decided right at the snap of the camera to move.

Whew.. that was long winded. If you want to chat more about the oddities of us "show folks" feel free to email me.

Word Verification - photi

goodtimetoreview said...

I started going to horse shows and taking pictures like a ninja paparazzi! I just caught horses and riders/owners acting naturally without them even realizing that I was there taking pictures. (love a good zoom for that!) I then posted a few of the pictures on the horse show originations facebook wall and then I had a bunch of friend requests and emails asking if I had any more of them that I could send them. I sent them the pictures for free as I did it for practice but I did get asked to come to a few more shows and take pictures which I PLANNED to do but was always so busy that I missed every show! :- ( Also, while I TRY to shoot everything in manual mode I sometimes cheat and just switch it to a program mode because I don’t want to miss anything. That way I can be quick on my toes!
I have found Facebook to be amazing resource for getting photography gigs. I start by doing a few photo sessions for friends and charge them the “good friend discount” (free) and then tell them to post all the pictures but to recommend me to their friends who are looking for pictures. I have been really busy this fall! I might even have a few weddings lined up for next year.

Super cute pics of the animals for adoption! I hope that they get good homes!

aurora said...

These photos are awesome! I really do think you've found your niche, grow with it. Even if it doesn't pay well, it may lead to something that does. Your doing a good thing, while being creative. It must feel rewarding.

I can see why you would want to keep some of these sweet peas, hard to believe they find themselves homeless...

Anonymous said...

I love the Halloween Kitty! That is sooo cute!


Crystal said...

I like the cat one, I never thought about people bringing cats to be photographed usually its always dogs. Specially like the one with the pumkins, too cute for halloween.

I would be glad if you were around to get me and my horse, sonce I am the photographer around here, I never get pics of me and my horses unless I specifically ask a friend.

Anonymous said...

the black dog on the purple cloth was very eye catching. all the pics are very good, so many nice props.

Katharine Swan said...

The min pin is adorable! OMG! I would have a hard time not adopting her, too. She has such a sweet expression -- who would not want a dog like that??

Unfortunately, itty bitty dogs have itty bitty bladders... but maybe you could train her to go inside in a litter box or on puppy pads? I've heard of people doing that for tiny dogs before.

I love the Halloween cat photo! Wow!

I don't think you should give up photographing animals. You're quite good at it. Keep getting experience and pictures to add to your portfolio through volunteering at the shelter, and see what happens. Too bad you aren't in Colorado -- I'd TOTALLY pay you for nice photographs of me and Panama.

Promise said...

NM, I love your photos. I'm not a cat person, but I really like the black cat halloween shot.

And if you were closer, I would SO love to have you come do a photo shoot with me and Miss Promise because I would LOVE to have some candid shots with her. If you're ever in Florida, we'll have to get together!!

Dreaming said...

Your pictures are awesome! You seem to have a way of capturing the animal at its cutest!
I love the kitten playing with the boot string!

appydoesdressage said...

I fully understand the "show horse owners" mentality, I had someone come out to take pictures of me during a show. They posted every single picture to their open FB page and some pictures were quite unflattering and he didn't remove the pictures per my request.

If you try handing out a biz card at shows (vistaprint is good for this) that includes verbiage that the pics aren't posted without permission you may have better reactions. Also try going to small, open shows. There are rarely photographers at those shows.

Good pictures of the animals! If they aren't being adopted after those pictures then something is wrong with the world!

Cut-N-Jump said...

I welcome photos from anyone willing to do it. I am usually the one behind the lens so pic's of me riding or driving are usually few and far between.

As for the pros? Some of them are just a$$holes by nature and driven by greed, so using the dollar sign for the S's is appropriate.

Maybe try finding a horse rescue willing to let you do some cute shots for potential adoptions? I know there are good and not so good rescues everywhere, but you never know... Maybe you can find a good one nearby?

Katharine Swan said...

Oh! NM, I just had an idea while reading the other comments. Why don't you try taking photographs at schooling shows? Parents would probably be more than happy to pay for nice shots of their kids riding, and wouldn't have the same hangups that the pros seem to have.

Reddunappy said...

I love the beautiful depth of color you got with the black animals!! They are very hard to photograph! I can even see stripes on the black kitty!
I seen a news story today that said black animals are the most common to be put down, whether it be be because of superstitions or because they are not as photogenic.
Great job!!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Thank you everyone for the encouragement and suggestions. I'm touched.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oooh! That little chi girl is precious! Before I adopted Dobbie, I was not a chi-person at all. I don't like yipper yappers and dogs that are always shaking from fear. Now, of course, Dobbie is a mix of Chi and Dachshund, and probably more of the latter than Chi, but there is something so sweet about those little dogs. If I lived closer I think I'd adopt that little Chi. Dobbie would probably love a little sister to play with.
I also like that little white fluffball dog, too.

Your photos are.....WOW!
Especially the one of the white dog and the first one of the black cat. I also love the one of the little Chi with fairy wings. Too sweet!


Cheryl Ann said...

Oh, I LOVE the black lab and the black cat! I have a black lab and she is the smartest dog we've ever had! She's a lot smarter than our German Shepherd and has a much better nose! I have a black cat, Abby, who was one of 4 kittens that my cousin got when her PUREBRED Oriental Shorthair got out an night...Abby is an absolute hoot! She's very smart, too! And, friendly and cuddly...I wouldn't be able to resist those dogs and cats!

achieve1dream said...

Those turned out fantastic!! Sorry you can't have the little dog, but you do mention valid reasons for not getting her. Just keep focusing on those lol. I would have a hard time not taking them home too.

That sucks that the pros won't give you a chance, but I think the backyard horse owners are a lot more appreciative anyway. :) Good luck with the people portraits. I bet you can go somewhere with that even if it's not as fun lol.