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Life is beautiful. Specially when is shared with a dog!

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What a statement!

A few weeks ago I met Leo. Leo is a 4 year old white Bichon Frise from Santa Monica.
He means the world to his mom and she wanted to celebrate their bond with a 2h outdoor dog photography session in their home.

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One of Leo's favorite games is to fetch the ball and show off the tricks he knows. 

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He will do anything you ask him to for a piece of apple. Yes, he loves apples!

Here I was holding a piece of apple to make him dance for the photo.

Here I was holding a piece of apple to make him dance for the photo.

Here are some of my favorite photos from that day. 
 


If you are thinking to celebrate the beautiful moments shared with your dog, contact me and let's design the perfect session for you and your family!



 

 

 

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DIY TUTORIAL: HOW TO PREPARE A DOG PHOTO BOOTH FOR THANKS GIVING.

Thanksgiving is around the corner. It’s time to gather with family, friends and of course, our pets!

Thanksgiving is time for celebration and creating new memories, and what a better way to do with a fun photo booth? I just did one and it was very fun and very affordable to create. So I wanted to share with you some key tips on how to create a successful and fun photo booth for your dogs for less than $50.

Dogs posing in my DYI Thanks Giving photo booth decoration.

Dogs posing in my DYI Thanks Giving photo booth decoration.

The basics:

  • Location on your home
  • A wall or DIY backdrop material
  • Fall decoration
  • Photography equipment: camera, tripod (optional), remote controller (optional).
  • Props: optional.
  • Gallery to share the photos afterwards
  • 1 squeaker or noisy toys
  • Knee pads (trust me, this will be your life saver!)

This is what I used for my own set:

  • Backdrop: I bought mine in Etsy but you can use a plain wall or you can also hang a white bed sheet.
    Photo booth decoration: I used some vintage wooden crates that I already had.
    The straw bales, the red leafs and the crown are from Michaels.

You can have the dogs sitting on the floor or if you don’t want to spend all the time on your knees, you can use a chair or a bench to place your pets.

I know that people really like props like faux moustaches, hats and glasses. I didn't use any of these props as it is hard enough to get the dogs to sit still with out the props. Plus, you’d see an arm coming from a corner. However, if you want to appear in the photo, then it’s much easier!

 

Now, let's talk more in depth about each thing:

1. Location on your home/space

Make sure that the space you choose is big enough to place the harvest decoration and for you to have some distance to take the photo. Ideally, and if you want to have this beautiful bokeh (or blurred background), you want to have the subject 3 ft from the wall and 3 ft from you.

Thanks to  Rob & Lauren  for letting me use their diagram to create my own.

Thanks to Rob & Lauren for letting me use their diagram to create my own.

 

2. The camera equipment:

Camera
A point-and-shoot camera can do the trick for a DYI photo booth. However, if you or any of your friends have a DSLR, better! DSLR are great to have a better control of the camera settings.

Tripod
Since dogs and kids move fast, it’s better to have the flexibility to move around to frame the photo perfectly. But if you want to be in the photo or want this to be a self-service photo booth, then yes, you need a tripod and a remote controller.

Lighting
This is the trickiest part of setting up a photo booth. Professional photo booths have fancy strobes to make sure there is enough light for a clear shot and no shadows. But since this is a DIY tutorial and the goal is to keep it under $50, we are going to use what we have around.

If you have a backyard, don’t think twice. Do it there! But make sure all of your guests have their photo taken while there’s still some sun.

If you decide to do it indoors, keep reading.

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The settings

1. ISO

If you don’t have a built in flash in your camera or don’t want to use one, push your ISO to at least, 800. If you have a semi or professional camera, go ahead and go for ISO 1200, 2000, 5000! Try and see what works best. I have a Canon 5D Mark III and a 50mm f/1.8 that works beautifully at ISO 10000 (yep, pretty high!). So try different ISO and see what gives you the best result without much noise.

Another option would be to use a floor lamp and put it next to the camera.

2. Aperture
If you want the blurred background, open your aperture up to f/2, f/2.8 if it’s only for one subject. If more people would like to be in the photo, close your aperture to f/3.5 or f/4; so everybody is in focus.

To make your life easier, choose Aperture priority mode.  If you only have a basic point-and-shoot without aperture priority mode, you can shoot in automatic.

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3. Shutter speed
If you are afraid of missing the moment (and trust me, it's so easy to miss the moment), and if your camera allows, choose "Burst mode".

The photographer
You are the most important part of the whole thing! You want your subjects to look into the camera. Dogs get distracted easily, especially if there’s a huge and juicy turkey being cooked near by.

You want to capture their attention and what works best for me, is to have a squeaker in my other hand (right hand for the camera, left hand for the squeaker). If you don’t have a squeaker, you can use any dog toy or make sounds with your mouth (make sure that for this last one, you are surrounded with friends because it can look pretty awkward sometimes :) )

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Time to share the joy!
Once the fun is over, it’s time to share the photos with all your family and friends!
The best way to do it is through your Facebook, so people can tag themselves and spread the cheer! If you rather want to send the high resolution photos to your friends so they can print them, you can send the photos via email or Wetransfer.


Here’s is my shopping list and how much I spent:

  • Crates: Free. I already had them.
  • Pine cones: Free. Found them around my neighbourhood ($2.49 at Michaels)
  • Fall crown: $15 at Michaels with discount.
  • Big Pumpkins: $12
  • Small Pumpkins: $5
  • Straw bales: $10 for 2
  • Read leafs: $8 both strings (you can find real ones for free!)
  • Metal basket and hairy cloth: Free. Already have it.

TOTAL SPENT: $50 (Mission accomplished!)

What will you do for Thanks Giving? Comment below and share your ideas!


Share this tutorial if you found it useful! And don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter to get special holidays discounts!



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Elegant photos to the most famous dog on Earth: Tuna

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Elegant photos to the most famous dog on Earth: Tuna

A few days later after Tuna's birthday party at NKLA, I met him again for his Fine Art Session at his home.

Each year we at Bows-N-Ties get involved in a charitable cause, and for 2014 Bows-N-Ties has decided to partner with the San Francisco SPCA.

(Buy your scarf or tie here: http://www.bows-n-ties.com/dogsnties/ )

To help raise both money and awareness Bows-N-Ties has launched DOGS-N-TIES, a campaign that marries fashion and activism to raise funds for homeless animals and Tuna (#tunameltsmyheart) has donated his time and image to be the face of the campaign.

Frame Your Pet was the photographer of Tuna (Instagram: Tunameltsmyheart)

Frame Your Pet was the photographer of Tuna (Instagram: Tunameltsmyheart)

It was a dream of mine to do a Fine Art Session to Tuna. He is funny, odd (in the most sweet way), unique and goofy; and I wanted to mix this explosive combination with art and elegancy.

Here are the best photos of his session:

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Courtney (Tuna's mom) putting the Dogs-n-ties scarf on Tuna for the photo shoot with Frame Your Pet.

Courtney (Tuna's mom) putting the Dogs-n-ties scarf on Tuna for the photo shoot with Frame Your Pet.





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Dog photography session at Baker Beach with the Golden Gate Bridge

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Dog photography session at Baker Beach with the Golden Gate Bridge

I can’t thank you enough for all you have done for Oliver and me, and I don’t think words can share how amazing this experience has been! Again, THANK YOU! You are an absolute godsend and I am so lucky to have had the chance to work with you.
— Marie A.

This week I met with Marie and her right hand Oliver. Oliver is a 11 year old Border Collie mix that was rescued when he was a puppy. Marie was fostering him when he was a puppy and after a while, their connection was so strong and so special that Marie adopted him. Oliver was her first dog (now she owns 2 more which trains at her Dog Training Center in San Jose) and as a first dog, he was also her first love. They´ve share so many things in life that now that Oliver is a senior dog, she wanted to capture him in all his splendor before it´s too late.

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During my consultation with Marie (a very important step towards designing the perfect photo session) she told me that they love to go on walks at the beach. Although Oliver doesn´t like to be in the water (despite the benefits of it, specially for his arthritis), we decided that Baker Beach would be the perfect place for the dog photography session. She had the idea of him with the Golden Gate Bridge behind Oliver and I was very excited about the idea. I love the Golden Gate Bridge! 

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For the way Marie talked about Oliver, almost with watery eyes, I saw how special was this for her. Growing up with a dog it´s a life changing experience and thinking a life without him was unimaginable for her. Her story with Oliver was very moving and I wanted to give them the most special session possible. So I decided to do the session during the sunset. For photographers, there´s what we call "the magic hour" which are those 3 minutes just right after the sun sets. The light in the sky is as beautiful as fleeting. As fleeting as that instant connection you make with somebody.

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Despite some physical limitations for Oliver (he gets very stiff after some running) he did very well. He even got wet paws for me! :)

Here are my favorite photos from that day.  

When Marie saw the photos, she was so happy that she couldn´t hold some tears of joy (I have to admit that I also let a tear go...). These are her words:

"I can't thank you enough for all you have done for Oliver and me, and I don't think words can share how amazing this experience has been! Again, THANK YOU! You are an absolute godsend and I am so lucky to have had the chance to work with you".


If you have a senior dog and you are thinking to capture him or her, contact me today and share what you have in mind. I´d love to work with you! 


Session selected as my favorite one of 2014! See the rest here.

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Lifestyle Dog Photographer Santa Monica: Rescued Pomeranian

This weekend I had an amazing photo shoot with the cutest black pomeranian I've ever met. I'm talking about a little ball of fluffy hair with a hair cut like the Lion King. He is tiny, but don't let his size fool you. His personality is as big as Simba's! 

Black Pomeranian posing on top of a stool, Los Angeles.

Black Pomeranian posing on top of a stool, Los Angeles.

I was commissioned to do a Fine Art Session (my signature session), which includes very artistic dog portraits (which are meant to capture the beauty and elegance of your pet) and lifestyle images (which are meant to capture your dog's personality). Learn more about the difference here.

Beautiful and elegant portrait of Toni. Indoor photo shoot with natural light. 

Beautiful and elegant portrait of Toni. Indoor photo shoot with natural light. 

Little story-telling with photography. Pomeranian dog playing hide and seek with the blankets.

Little story-telling with photography. Pomeranian dog playing hide and seek with the blankets.

Normally I do the outdoor session first so the dog can be tired for the indoor session but this time I did it the other way around for the lighting of the house. And thanks God! Because, do you know what happened in the outdoor session? Before I did even have time to pull out my camera, Toni jumped straight into the lake to chase a duck!

Pomeranian dog swimming in a little lake, Playa Vista.

Pomeranian dog swimming in a little lake, Playa Vista.

The moment was hysterical but his coat was all ruined: wet and full of dirt from the lake (some duck poop included). Of course, that wouldn't have worked for the Fine Art Session. Anyway, I had those shoots already so it was time to have fun!

I think he also has some   meerkat in his blood!

I think he also has some meerkat in his blood!

Here are some of the best shoots of the day. 


Would you like to have a session like this for your pup? Contact me and let's book your free consultation to discuss your ideas.

 

Related posts: 7 Reasons why you should hire a professional pet photographer
 


Session selected as my favorite one of 2014! See the rest here.



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Why Debarking Your Dog Is Cruel

DEBARKING IS NOT THE SOLUTION.


Debarking also known as devocalization, is just another fancy word for muting your dog. During the surgery part or all the vocal chord structures are removed.
Although the procedure is the popular solution for barking dogs, it is actually a radical and cruel solution.

Dogs Bark

Dobermans barking while alone at home.

Dobermans barking while alone at home.

As you know, dogs bark; some more than others. It can become annoying and disturbing, but I doubt that hitting the mute button will solve the barking issue. Imagine the frustration of your dog when it will try to bark and no sound will come out. Is debarking the real solution for the problem?

In this week’s post I want to talk about this particular procedure in a FAQ structure. If you are considering debarking your dog, this article will help you to know more about what debarking is about and which results you can expect.


Which procedure is better?

The oral approach
Debarking them with this procedure, 90% of the dogs were muted or aphonic 3 or 4 months after the intervention. Scar tissue at the surgical site appears in about 60% of the dogs. There is also the possibility that the removed tissue grows back, or even worse, scar tissue blocking the throat. Both scenarios would require further surgeries.

The laryngeal approach
This method is suggested to provide better surgical exposure and of course a better tissue removal. Since the scar is on the neck; an Elizabethan collar (also known as the “cone collar”) can’t be worn to protect the scar, and several complications due to scratching can appear.

Dog's scar after devocalization surgery.

Dog's scar after devocalization surgery.

Is the dog under general anesthesia? Is it dangerous?

Yes, but the anesthetic is delivered by intravenous route. Because of the surgery area, the anesthesia can’t be delivered through an endotracheal tube and the anesthesia risks are higher. 

Besides the anesthetic risk and the known possibilities of scarring after the procedure; the devocalization implies other postoperative risks. Complications such as: bacterial infection, laryngeal spasm due to the inflammation and necrosis are a few of them.

Consult with your vet about the specific risks of putting your dog under general anesthesia and the discuss the postoperative complications.

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I still want to go ahead with the devocalization. How can the complications be reduced?

After the devocalization it is advised to keep the dog quiet and relaxed for about 4 to 5 weeks. The agitation and the excess of the inhaled air will increase the inflammation in the area. In order to keep it quiet sedation may be required.
Also, most of the dogs after being debarked, will develop a chronic cough, difficulty in swallowing and serious breathing problems due to the scar tissue are often seen.

Note that excessive barking is a consequence of something else and by mutilating your dog’s cords you are not addressing the underlying behaviour that may be causing the barking or crying.


Will my dog still bark?

Yes, your dog will still bark, however, the voice will be altered. Some dogs’ bark are half less loud and piercing and others are just left muted after the surgery.
The key to a successful procedure is removing the entire vocal process. If part of the vocal cord remains; there is a big chance of scarring.

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Are there other options to make it stop barking?

Yes, you can talk with a behavior specialist or a trainer. They will help asses the dogs environment and unwanted behaviour with the purpose of correcting it.

Famous Cesar Millan, also known as the Dog Whisper.

Famous Cesar Millan, also known as the Dog Whisper.


Does it affect the dog’s well being?

The bark is the way a dog communicates and if there’s a lot of barking, he/she is trying to tell you something.
Debarking the dog not only won’t solve the root of the problem but it can escalate. The reason of barking, whether fear, loneliness, stress, anxiety or fear, will be channeled in other ways, including biting, destruction of goods or auto mutilation.


Is debarking necessary?

Debarking is yet another example of non therapeutic procedure like declawing, ear cropping and tail docking. As the procedure brings no medical benefit added to the surgical risk; explains the reason why some veterinarians refuse to do it.
Therefore, the answer to the questions is NO. It’s not necessary and there’s always other alternatives.

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CONCLUSION

Dogs bark.

No pet is perfect and unfortunately the devocalization is not the answer to the problem. Barking is part of normal canine behavior. Excessive vocalization can be due to fear, anxiety, boredom and even medical pathology.

Barking will keep you and your neighbors awake. Will probably ruin your TV series. But maybe your dog doesn't wish to destroy your life, it is wishing to tell you something. Think how it must feel when you are gone all day.

The solution to the problem can be found by removing the cause, socializing and training your dog. As Dr. Conn says, “It is a convenience procedure since the surgery addresses the symptoms but not the underlying cause of incessant barking.”

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Some solutions:

Training will help teach your dog boundaries. Spending more time with your dog instead of asking it to stop barking and creating a nice play routine will reduce the anxiety. Early socialization in puppies and early exposure to new situations, will make your adult dog more balanced and less frightened.

Dog at agility.

Dog at agility.

Knowing all that would you force your dog to have an unnecessary, traumatizing and harmful procedure like debarking?

If you are considering to debark your dog, you must watch this video and think about it:


Other useful sources: If you find that your dog’s barking is a problem, refer to these 5 Tips for Handling Nuisance Barking. Also check out the Vol. 5 of the Mastering Leadership DVD series, Common Canine Misbehaviors , where well known Cesar Millan goes in-depth on the issue of barking.

Other related posts: Tips to choose the right dog for your family.

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Tips to choose the right rescued dog for your family.

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Tips to choose the right rescued dog for your family.

Last week we saw what to look for when going to a breeder to get your pure breed dog. But what should you look at when looking to adopt one?
In this week’s article I want to share with you some key things to bear in mind when visiting shelters in order to find the right dog for you and your family.


1. Research the breed

Do your homework, learn more about breeds and make a self assessment to decide if you can commit to give the dog the attention it needs.

Determine if your life can fit the exercise, grooming and size requirements of the breed. Beagles, for example are low maintenance when it comes to housing and grooming them but they require plenty of exercise and attention. On the opposite pole, the Old English Sheepdog enjoys long naps and slow walks, but the shaggy coat require daily grooming.

If you have small children in your family you should consider a children friendly dog; breeds like Boxers and Newfoundland behave like genuine babysitters and are safe around children despite their size.

Source: Google Images.  English Sheepdog.

Source: Google Images. 
English Sheepdog.


2. A puppy or an adult?

Your lifestyle and household background should be taken in account when making this decision. A puppy is time consuming, as it needs to be housetrained and socialized. But, on the bright side they are easy to integrate in the family. Older dogs are likely to have some basic training, but they also can have some bad traits and difficulties when getting socialized.

You must supervise the children interaction with the new dog, regardless of the dog’s age.

French Bulldog puppy in the beach.

French Bulldog puppy in the beach.


3. Dog’s background

When visiting the shelter, spend some time and talk with the volunteers, they can give you valuable information about the dog’s personality and preferences. Find out as much as you can about the past of the dog. Was it rescued, abandoned or abused? Depending on each circumstance, you will get an idea of how much work it will require to socialize it and earn its trust.

Velcro is a rescued dog from Stockton City of Animals. 

Velcro is a rescued dog from Stockton City of Animals. 


4. The dog’s apperance

The coat should be shiny, the skin shouldn’t have any scales or lumps. The eyes and nose should be clean of secretions and crusts. If you notice any changes, those might be signs of disease, so don’t forget to discuss the medical history with the volunteers or with your vet.

Adoptable young dog from Stockton City of Animals.

Adoptable young dog from Stockton City of Animals.


5. The sorroundings

Take a look at the place where the dog lives in and study the living conditions. Evaluate the behavior of the dog in group, how it acts and interacts with the others, and asses which is appropriate for you. In my case, I always look for the one who isn't barking when others are, and that is friendly with both humans and dogs.

If possible spend some time alone with the dog in a room or an outside paddock and observe the reactions alone.

Owner and boxer puppy interacting.

Owner and boxer puppy interacting.


As not all stories have happy endings, you should ask if it is possible to get a trial period in order to make a decision.

Some shelters, like the SPCA or Norcal Family Dog Rescue, allows you to take the dog home for a few days and see how you and your dog adapt to each other. Bear in mind that some dogs, when are in new environments, their behaviour can change for good or bad.


Bringing a new pet in your home and family is thrilling, but don’t forget that this is a long term commitment and whatever dog you choose, you need to be very honest with yourself.


Share this article if you found it interesting!



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Pet Boutique in Castro, San Francisco.

BEST IN SHOW

For people looking for "that little extra special thing”.


 

What Makes Best in Show Unique?

Their focus is a boutique-client. Opposed to a chain type of store, they are very client-pet orientated. They are one of the best in customer service that I’ve come across so far.

Being a business owner myself, I know how important good customer service is in order to succeed, and as a client, I value being treated with respect and care.

Customer service is not only about being friendly and smiling all the time. It’s about guidance. Unfortunately, these MUST have premises are not always there. That’s why when I met Richard and George (co-owners of Best in Show), I knew I was in the right store for my pet.

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The staff is friendly, but what impressed me the most was their deep product knowledge. They know what they sell. They are the EXPERTS. Challenge them! Pick up a product and they will tell you everything you want to know about it. You want to know which squeaker toy can survive your pit bull’s jaw? They will tell you. You want to find a gluten and sugar free treat for your dog? They will show you a variety of them. You want to buy a leather hand-made collar? They will help you to find the right one.

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Pet-store-Castro-San-Francisco

 

Dogs Are the New Kids

 

Despite the fact that BiS is in the heart of the Castro, the clientele comes in all shapes and forms. As Richard mentioned when I spoke to him, “the customer who shops here is the customer who is a super passionate pet owner. They love and treat their pet as a family member”. Some of the store’s best-selling products even feature the slogan, “Dogs Are the New Kids.”

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And I can testify to that. At BS, they are as passionate about pets as you are. This passion for animals inspired them to create their own line of products for dogs, cats, and their humans – BiS DOG - with some hilarious /funny/original slogans like “Dogs are the new kids”, “Grrr”, “Sleep with dogs”. The products range from beautiful ball caps and t-shirts, Bony Babies dog toys, and human t-shirts to very functional totes, mugs, and their exclusive Hand Pup-Pet squeaky dog toys.

They are also the exclusive manufacturer and distributor of Barkology for BiS DOG, and you can buy their products through their website. Oh! And they wholesale too!

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All of their products are very unique, functional, and high quality. So I wasn’t surprised when Richard told me that people from all over the world buy from Best in Show. Tourists from both the US and abroad will stop at the store to buy a souvenir for their dog or cat. They have a large assortment of toys made especially for travelers: from the squeaker call train plush toy to the rainbow donut. I tell you, your dog will be the coolest one at the park with these San Franciscan toys.

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But be warned! Go there with time to spare because this is one of those stores that you’ll need time to decide what to buy as you’ll want everything!

 

If you need some help, here is a list of the Best in Show best sellers:

  1. Barkology human accessories (t-shirt, bags, caps, etc.)
  2. Squeeky hand puppets (for both dogs and cats)
  3. The pet apparel collection
Barkology Human Accessories

Barkology Human Accessories

Squeeky hand puppets for both dogs and cats.

Squeeky hand puppets for both dogs and cats.

The pet appereal collection.

The pet appereal collection.

If you are looking to buy local and MADE IN THE US products that are also unique and functional, stop looking around. Best in Show is your pet boutique. Go once, go forever.

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You Can Find More About Best in Show Here:

Website 
Blog 
Twitter 


Besides Best in Show’s presence online, they also participate in as many events as they can, especially when it comes to fundraisers to help those pets who are more in need.


Do you want your business to be featured in my blog? Contact me to schedule your interview.

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7 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Professional Pet Photographer

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7 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Professional Pet Photographer

It’s convenient to snap pictures of your furry friends with your camera or smartphone when a cute or playful moment presents itself, but those aren’t the photos that you’re going to want to print and frame. For display, you’ll want professional pet photos that are done with taste and grace.


Here are some the reasons that make professional pet photography a worthwhile investment:


1. The puppy stage is very short

We all melt when looking at photos of puppies. It's the sweetest thing ever and we all wish we could have a puppy again. You may have had a puppy once, but you barely remember it because the puppy grows so fast! Who doesn't like to search for puppy photos? The beautiful pictures of little and clumsy animals, sleeping or playing, with great light, keeping all the details and the softness. High end photography is hard to achieve with iPhones and those types of photos don't do justice to your dog at all.

Those playful, cuddly puppies will grow up fast. You’ll want to capture this moment so that you will be able to remember it when your friend becomes an adult and eventually a senior. This is the sweetest and most innocent phase of your pet’s life, and before you realize it, it will be gone. So the sooner you immortalize it in photography, the better.

Boxer puppy with her mom during his puppy session with Frame Your Pet Photography.

Boxer puppy with her mom during his puppy session with Frame Your Pet Photography.

2. Animals don’t last forever

I wish they did, but they will die some day and then what will you have? 1000 photos in your Dropbox all with bad lighting and resolution enough for an 8x10. Many of my clients are booking what I call Rainbow Sessions. It’s for pets who are nearing the end of life either due to old age or an illness. It’s great to get those photo opportunities in before it’s too late, but why not get a new photo shoot done with them every couple of years, when they’re still strong and healthy, so that when they do pass, you’ll have something to illustrate their whole life.

Saying goodbye to your companion is never easy. So before it’s too late, this is a wonderful way to capture those last precious moments

Saying goodbye to your companion is never easy. So before it’s too late, this is a wonderful way to capture those last precious moments


3. Your pet is part of your family

We all take professional pictures with our spouses or families. Why not honor your beloved pet with a quality photo shoot as well? Pet photography also has the ability to be more artistic in lighting and backdrops than family portraits. Imagine the action shots, the cute poses and expressions framed perfectly on your wall. Family portraits, when displayed, tend to be no larger than 8x10, but an artistic pet photo can look great at larger proportions.

Cooper's family gave themselves a gift with beautiful family portraits in their home.

Cooper's family gave themselves a gift with beautiful family portraits in their home.


4. Pet photography done tastefully can become a piece of art

This isn’t stock photos or store-bought décor. This is unique and personalized art. Photos of animals make great pieces of art. But instead of spending thousands of dollars on a photo of a horse or dog you don't know, now you have the chance to have your own custom made piece of art of your cat or dog.

As an artist and photographer, I understand your needs for such art and that's why I created my Fine Art Sessions, which are meant to serve as large gallery mounted prints worthy of display. My photos are elegant, striking images that you will feel proud to have in your home.

Visit my  Wall Art galler  y  to see more examples on how I can turn your cat, dog or horse photos into a masterpiece.

Visit my Wall Art gallery to see more examples on how I can turn your cat, dog or horse photos into a masterpiece.

 

5. Photography takes skill

You might take some great photos, but they still won’t have the professional touch to them. A career pet photographer has the training, the equipment, the experience, materials, and supplies to produce a gallery-quality portrait. The professional pet photographer will not only provide you with images that you never thought possible, but will shoot thinking about colors and composition. Also, the professional lenses are able to capture the light and details that no point and shoot camera or iPhone can. Plus, a skilled pet photographer will take care of fine tuning the image: removing eye bugs, removing the leash from the photo, removing people in the background, enhancing the fur details, the colors, etc.

To create a more piece of art more than just a quick shoot of the moment, the photo needs that fine tuning that only a professional pet photographer can provide.

BEFORE
This photo was taken with an iPhone.

AFTER
Akame's mom bought a Fine Art Session with Frame Your Pet and this is one of the photos of their session. They actually decided to print and mount this one on 24x36 aluminum piece. 

Related article: Why custom pet photography is expensive

 

6. Memories are priceless

Pet photography is a bit of a luxury, but once you capture those moments with your friend, you’ll have them forever and will have no doubt of their worth. We all return to photos from time to time when we feel nostalgic: photos of when we were kids, when we had that trip to the Grand Canyon with all the family, the Christmas evening when Grandpa was still with us, our wedding day. Photos immortalize that moment in time, that split second that will no longer be with us. Only the photo is the proof that that day existed and we lived it. So memories are not only priceless; they tell the story of our life. And cats and dogs are our life too. They grow up with us, they share every day with us and our kids, so it's very important to have their presence in our lives documented. This is especially true when you don't have children, as many do not. Pets are very much our family, and family in any form is a treasure.

Shino turned 17 years old and his family decided to celebrate it with a professional pet photography session to capture his personality before it was too late.

Shino turned 17 years old and his family decided to celebrate it with a professional pet photography session to capture his personality before it was too late.


7. If you are a pet business, you need high quality marketing material

The quality of your marketing speaks volumes about the quality of your products or services. Look at any company and you’ll see that their sales increase in direct correlation to their marketing budget. The more you advertise, and the better your advertising is, the more customers will notice you and entrust you with their business. If you want your business to grow and see an increase in customers or client, taking your advertising and display materials to the next level with customized, professional pet photography is going to be key.

A Spanish Horse Breeder and Horse Club commissioned Frame Your Pet a series of Fine Art equine photography to illustrate their high-end service. The photos are being use for their website and marketing activities such as brochures, printed ad's, posters etc.

A Spanish Horse Breeder and Horse Club commissioned Frame Your Pet a series of Fine Art equine photography to illustrate their high-end service.
The photos are being use for their website and marketing activities such as brochures, printed ad's, posters etc.

CONCLUSION

Of course, you’ll still want to take your own photos when the right moment strikes, but for the purpose of creating art and important keepsakes, only a professional pet photographer can deliver the quality you desire. Take the time to schedule your photo shoot today!

 

Related articles: Tips to choose the right pet photographerHow good dog and equine photography can help boost your business.


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If You Don’t Adopt, You’re a MONSTER - Adopting vs. Buying a Puppy.

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If You Don’t Adopt, You’re a MONSTER - Adopting vs. Buying a Puppy.

There are many animals, including puppies, that are destroyed and abused every year for different reasons. As a result of this, rescue and adoption centers have been established so as to save the lives of some of these animals. Of course, you can’t always find your preferred breed in a shelter or rescue agency, so what should you do?


 

Arguments for Adoption

The greatest debate when selecting a new furry family member is whether to adopt from a shelter or rescue organization, or to buy one from a breeder. Different people have different opinions on this topic, but from a general perspective, people argue that adopting a puppy is one way of rescuing it from certain death, unlike buying.

 

It is very unfortunate that approximately 4 million unrescued puppies are euthanized every year in the US due to overpopulation in shelters. Adopting a dog or cat therefore means that you will have rescued the life of that particular animal. Because of this, you will be considered a hero rather than a monster as people sometimes refer to those who buy specially bred animals.

I always wanted to have a Pug or a French Bulldog. But when the time arrived, I couldn't help myself to adopt Riff. After checking 10 different shelters and meet with 5 different dogs, Riff was the one. I couldn't resist to his positive energy. He was the perfect match for me and I've never been happier with this little crazy, yet lovely, chihuahua-terrier mix!

I always wanted to have a Pug or a French Bulldog. But when the time arrived, I couldn't help myself to adopt Riff. After checking 10 different shelters and meet with 5 different dogs, Riff was the one. I couldn't resist to his positive energy. He was the perfect match for me and I've never been happier with this little crazy, yet lovely, chihuahua-terrier mix!

There have been a lot of misconceptions about animal adoption. For example, some people having been saying that puppies in shelters are those who did not make good pets. This is not true because the main reasons that people give up pets that end up in shelters include: they have allergies, the owner dies or no longer has time for the pet, the owner is moving to a home that does not allow pets, the owner is no longer able to afford the pet costs, etc.

 

The top reasons to adopt:

  1. You are saving a life
  2. You can get an adult dog rather than a puppy if you want a more relaxed animal
  3. The shelter or agency staff knows the animal’s personality and health issues, so they’ll be able to inform about any issues the animal may have
  4. You can visit with the animal, get to know its personality, and even take it home for a fully refundable trial period to determine if it is a good fit your home and family
  5. The animal has been cared for and brought up to health by the shelter/agency
  6. You can search for specific breeds you might be partial to
  7. Most shelter/rescue animals are of mixed breed, which decreases their chances of having or developing chronic health problems normally associated with purebred animals.
  8. If your circumstances change, and you can’t keep the animal, you can return it to the shelter or agency without incurring any associated fees
  9. Whereas there is some cost in adopting a pet, it is much more affordable to pay the $200 or lower adoption fee than the up to $3000 breeding fee (price is just approximate)
  10. The shelter or agency will do everything they can to assist you in the adoption process, and if you have any problems with the animal after you adopt it, they’ll even provide support to help with those issues too

 

Remember that saving money is not the only reason to adopt a pet versus buying one. Whereas adoptions generally do cost less initially, every animal needs regular veterinary care and to have its basic needs provided. Adopting isn’t as much about saving money as it about saving a life.


 

Arguments for Buying from a Breeder

Some people have a hard time not understanding why people buy puppies from breeders instead of adopting. However, all decisions, when made with solid reasons and according to one’s own need, must be respected.

Before we list the potential benefits of buying from a breeder, we must note the need to carefully select your breeder. There are some things that go on in puppy mills that are not good for the health of animals themselves. Nearly all “puppy mills” are large-scale breeding places where owners are after making large profits from the animals they sell. As a result of this, female dogs are forced to breed continuously until they can’t breed any longer. These female dogs do not have the freedom to live as normal dogs and their offspring are a result of over breeding, which, while creating beautiful animals, also causes serious health issues in their genetic makeup.

 

Not all breeders are like this. You can certainly find dog and other animal breeders who care for their animals, treat them well, track their lineage, and pair them in such a way as to ensure maximum genetic variety within the breed itself.

 

The top reasons to buy from a breeder:

  1. You are guaranteed the breed that you desire and can verify each animals’ lineage

  2. You can establish a relationship with the breeder and his/her practices

  3. The breeder will offer you references of dog owners who are happy with the dogs they purchased

  4. You will know what type of temperament and health concerns to expect from your animal

  5. You will be able to fulfill your dream of having a certain breed

  6. A breeder will be available to you throughout your dog’s life

  7. There is endless information on your specific breed

 

As you can see, there are good reasons to adopt from a shelter or association and there are good reasons to buy from a reputed breeder. It is a personal decision for each pet owner, and you can be sure that no matter how you acquire your new family member, the love that you give to, and receive from it, will remain the same.

 

Related link: How to choose the right breeder.


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How to choose for the right breeder

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How to choose for the right breeder

We all have our favorite breeds of dogs. The question is how to find the right breeder for your chosen breed. You want a responsible breeder who cares properly for their animals and conducts business in an ethical, human manner. You also want a breeder that will answer your questions openly and honestly.

 

Before Going to the Breeder...

Check your local shelter. One in every four dogs in animal shelters in the United States is purebred, so if you’re looking for a certain breed, chances are high that you’ll be able find the dog you’re looking for in a shelter or rescue agency at a much lower price than if you had gone to a breeder directly. You'll also feel great about helping a homeless dog find a loving home. Most dogs lose their homes because of "people" reasons, such as cost, lack of time, lifestyle changes (new baby, divorce, moving, or marriage), or allergies, and not because of the dog’s behavior or personality.

Set is a Long Hair Collie (purebred) that was rescued from a puppy mill. After tons of love and patience, he made full recovery and he is a balanced and wonderful dog. Click  here  to know more about Set.

Set is a Long Hair Collie (purebred) that was rescued from a puppy mill.
After tons of love and patience, he made full recovery and he is a balanced and wonderful dog.
Click here to know more about Set.

If you've searched the online shelter and rescue listings for your breed, but still haven't found what you’re looking for, it’s time to find an ethical breeder. You don't want to buy a puppy from a pet store because you know that most of those puppies come from mass breeding facilities—better known as puppy mills. You'll want to find a breeder who has their dogs' best interests at heart.

(Photo/Klearchos Kapoutsis via Flickr)  This is the most "normal" picture I could find while looking for references. The cruelty of the images were too much to post them in this article. If you want to see the truth behind the puppy mills, just search for "puppy mills" in Google Images.  Viewer discretion is advised.    

(Photo/Klearchos Kapoutsis via Flickr)
This is the most "normal" picture I could find while looking for references. The cruelty of the images were too much to post them in this article. If you want to see the truth behind the puppy mills, just search for "puppy mills" in Google Images. Viewer discretion is advised.

 

Choosing a Responsible Breeder

Everyone always tells you to buy a puppy from a "reputable breeder". That’s sound advice, but how do you find one? How do you tell a reputable breeder from an unethical or irresponsible one?

 

I've collected a listing of questions that you should ask a breeder to help you determine if they are going to be a good source for your puppy. Remember, too, that the breeder is evaluating you, as well, and will undoubtedly ask you some questions. But we’ll talk about this in another post.

 

You can find responsible breeders by asking for referrals from your veterinarian or trusted friends, by contacting local breed clubs, or visiting professional dog shows. Remember, a responsible breeder will never sell their dogs through a pet store or in any other way that does not allow her to meet with and thoroughly interview you to ensure that the puppy is a good match for your family and that you will provide a responsible, lifelong home.

 

 

Talk to the Breeder (The Most Important Step)

Often, you can get a quick impression by taking a look at the breeder's home or place of business, or by chatting with the breeder. If by some chance, the breeder seems cagey or does not want to give you a tour of the place, you should probably steer clear. Someone with nothing to hide will gladly talk to you or show you around. A breeder who interviews you to make sure you can provide a good home is another good sign of a qualified breeder.

 

They should be well educated about the breed they work with, and be honest about the pros and cons of the breed. A responsible breeder will be a member of a national and possibly regional breed club affiliated with (in the United States) the American Kennel Club (AKC) or United Kennel Club (UKC); and the breeder's dogs will be AKC and/or UKC registered; and the litter registered as well, with the the puppies eligible for (if AKC) Full or Limited Registration as well.

 

9 Questions to Ask Your Breeder

1. How long have you bred this species? Have you ever bred others? (You want someone who has experience in your chosen or similar breed. You also want a specialist for your breed, not someone who breeds many different species.)

 

2. What are the most common genetic health issues with this breed? How does your breeding practice seek to minimize those issues? (Look for honest answers about the issues and someone who is taking real measures to ensure genetic variety within the breed. Do a little research first so that you know what the issues are yourself.)

 

3. Are the parent animals available for me to meet? (Most breeders should not own both parent animals. To ensure variety, they will most likely own the female but not the male. If they do not let you see the female, that may be an indication that their dogs are not healthy or well kept.)

 

4. Can you tell me about the parent animals? (Every animal has good and bad points, so look for a balanced answer from your breeder and pay special attention to the parent animals’ disposition toward people or other animals to ensure that your new puppy will not have an overly aggressive personality. Also note if the parent dogs have been in dog shows or certified as Companion Dogs.)

 

5. What is this puppy’s pedigree? (You’re looking for a knowledgeable breeder who can trace the animal’s lineage to at least four generations. Look for honesty when it comes to interbreeding.)

 

6. Are you raising the puppies here? Have they been socialized? (Ideally, your prospective puppy will have been raised in the household so that they will be used to people and being in a home rather than a kennel where they will have limited human interaction.)

 

7. How many litters do you have per year? (If they are breeding any one female more than once a year, this is too often to ensure the healthiest littler possible. If they have too many litters per year, this is a good indication that they are not properly planning for good breeding.)

 

8. What guarantees do you offer for this puppy? (They should guarantee against debilitating genetic conditions, ensure good health at the point of sale, and be willing to take returned animals. Part of being an ethical breeder is making sure that the puppies have a good home and that it stays that way.)

 

9. When can I take the puppy home with me? (Puppies can normally leave their mother when they are 2-3 months old. Avoid someone who offers them earlier as this demonstrates irresponsibility to the animal’s health and natural development.)

 

You’ll also want the breeder to let you play with and interact with the puppy to see if you like its personality.

Good luck on finding the right animal for you and your family!

 

Download the "How to Identify a Responsible Dog Breeder" [PDF] checklist from the Humane Society and take it with you as you visit different breeders. 

Read “What a Dog Breeder Won’t Tell You” for more information.


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Tips to choose the right pet photographer

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Tips to choose the right pet photographer

 

Becoming a pet owner is a more life-changing event than many people realize when they set out to choose a new addition to their family. Within a short space of time, a new dog or cat takes up a space in your heart that you didn’t know was empty. They are forever a part of your family and not just an animal.

Your pet becomes an integral part of your life; he is there for all of life’s monotonous daily moments. He greets you when you wake up, when you get in from work, and cuddles on your lap before bedtime. He’s also there for life’s milestones; birthday’s, family bbq’s, the birth of children. He is a constant presence, always offering unconditional love and affection.

Celebrating Maui's 7th birthday.

Celebrating Maui's 7th birthday.

Time passes quickly, and before you know it, your pet has transformed from puppy or kitty to a fully mature dog or cat. He changes as if before your eyes; blink and you could miss it! In the world of smartphones and modern technology, you take frequent snaps of your beloved pet until your phone memory is full to capacity in an attempt to capture him at every phase in his life. Unfortunately, these low resolution images don’t print well, and your pet can not be proudly displayed in frames in your home, as he deserves.

How many photos of your dog or cat do you have in your smart phone? 

How many photos of your dog or cat do you have in your smart phone? 

The solution to this problem is to hire a professional pet photographer. The pet photography business is gaining lots of attention, so choosing the right one is becoming extremely challenging. A conventional photographer, who photographs anything to everything, may not comprehend the art of taking the best pet portraits.

 

How to choose the right photographer for your beloved pet?

First, you need to look for a specialist. There are many styles of pet photography, such as documentary, traditional, photojournalistic, fine arts, abstract, and studio. The vast amount of options can make the choice seem daunting, but we have some easy to follow guidelines that will make choosing your pet photographer foolproof.

 

1. Generalist vs Specialist

While not all amateur photographers are created equal, the best way to ensure you receive quality work is to hire a seasoned professional with a solid background.

This is the first step toward success choosing the right photographer for you. Generalists are the ones who shoot a bit of everything: newborns, pets, weddings, landscape, etc. Pets do require an experienced photographer to have their pictures taken. The photographer must understand animals and be able to engage them to get the best out of them. Check the photographer’s experience and background and ensure he or she is a professional and has a career that backs up what he or she does with a gallery representation, awards, magazines, and blog features. Every pet is a unique character and being able to be patient with pets is not enough. You need to ensure that the candidate has experience working with animals, and ideally, can provide some references from previous customers.

 

2. Choose the Photography Style: Studio vs Outdoor/Indoor

Studio photography requires that your pet be taken to an unknown environment, which could cause nervousness. Studio photography can be very stressful for the pets. They not only have to stay quiet in the same spot for long periods of time, but the whole setup can be overwhelming when you consider all of the lights and bright flashes.

Photo courtesy of Keith Stenhouse.

Photo courtesy of Keith Stenhouse.

Outdoor photography, also known as “on location” photography, has great benefits. In the case of a dog, outdoors means exercise and having a great time. Having an incredible pet photographer will make no difference if your pet is stressed or unhappy, so considering how the location will affect them is key. In the case of senior dogs, puppies, or cats, indoor is a good alternative to outdoors. As long as the pet feels comfortable, the pictures will turn out great.

 

To know more about Studio photography vs Outdoor photography, read this post.

 

3. Choose the Photographer’s Style

Although many pet photographers use digital cameras, there are still some more traditional ones using film. Do you prefer film or digital? Do you want black and white or color? Each one comes with pros and cons, and depends on your personal preference. It’s important to spend some time checking the photographer’s portfolio to see if his/her style is what you are looking for.

 

4. Know The Process

If possible, schedule a pre-session consultation with your top two photographers. Discuss your project, what you are looking for, how the session works, and your expectations, and use the time to clarify any questions you may have. The consultation will help you get to know each other and you’ll get a better feeling of which pet photographer will be right for you.

 

5. The Investment

Figure out your budget and compare what each photographer includes in the price, but don’t let this be the deciding factor. Price is often a synonym for quality, not only in terms of products but also in customer service. Do you want a shoot-n-burn photographer or somebody who can prepare a tailored session for you and your pet? Do you want to buy a few 8x10 prints or do you want gallery-quality art pieces? You will pay once, but a few years from now, you won’t remember how much it cost you, only how wonderful and unique your pet was.

Framed Fine Art photo of a Greyhound. Perfect to decorate your home or office.

Framed Fine Art photo of a Greyhound. Perfect to decorate your home or office.

Although choosing the right pet photographer can be a time consuming process, it is vital that you invest some time searching for local dog or cat photographers that will be able to capture your pet’s personality in the best way possible.

 

If you are looking for a pet photographer in San Francisco or in the Bay Area, I'd love to work with you. Contact me now to schedule your free session consultation and let's get your project started!


Frame Your Pet’s Mission:

To provide customized services in a professional and personal manner to create timeless high-end pet photography artwork exceeding client satisfaction and expectations.

 

 

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Set & Vincent, the Rescued Long Hair Collies

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Set & Vincent, the Rescued Long Hair Collies

Although I'm now based in San Francisco, my hometown is Barcelona. I don't only have my family and friends there, but also lovely clients who are willing to wait 6 months for me to go home to photograph their pets.

This Christmas I had several sessions booked and now that I'm back and settled, I want to share them with you.


Let me introduce you to Set & Vincent. Set (which means Seven in Catalan), is the 2nd long hair collie this family has had. A few years ago, their first collie passed away at the age of 14 years old. So, when the time arrived, they didn't doubt their decision to get the same breed. They rescued Set from a puppy mill in Girona. After a few months of lots of patience and unconditional love, Set knew that he was home.

Met Set, the elegant long hair collie from Barcelona.

Met Set, the elegant long hair collie from Barcelona.

A few years later, Vincent joined the family. He is of the same breed and he was also rescued from another puppy mill. 

This is Vincent, posing for me!

This is Vincent, posing for me!

Vincent's mom chose the location. It's been many years since I left my lovely Catalonia so I'm a bit outdated when it comes to new locations for photo shots. Luckily, she found the perfect one.

Although the day was moody and looked like it was about to rain, the weather turned perfect. The light was gentle, the weather wasn't harsh, and the dogs had a wonderful time running and chasing each other.

After a while, it was time to relax, and for me to become invisible to them so that I could capture the perfect moment.

Set and Vincent laying with their mom in front of a waterfall.

Set and Vincent laying with their mom in front of a waterfall.

Vincent striking another pose. I love this one.

Vincent striking another pose. I love this one.

Of course, being outdoors, the dogs couldn't help themselves and had to go back to have some more fun!

A happy dog!

A happy dog!

I think Vincent knew the deal. One photo, one treat! He was all over the place!

I think Vincent knew the deal. One photo, one treat! He was all over the place!

There we go! Vincent again. But I have to admit it... He is a very handsome collie! 

There we go! Vincent again. But I have to admit it... He is a very handsome collie! 

In the meantime, Set was just doing his thing. 

Set playing with a stick. He doesn't need too much to enjoy himself!

Set playing with a stick. He doesn't need too much to enjoy himself!

Love, love, love.

Love, love, love.

Although Set was rescued and I know he is a lucky dog, her mom feels very lucky to have him in her life. You can tell the love is there.

long-hair-collie-photos-in-forest_01.jpg

One hour later, it was time to head home.

It was a very nice session and we all had a great time in the forest. 

long-hair-collie-photos-adoption.jpg

Thank you, Montse, Vincent, and Set for letting me be part of such an amazing day.

 

Related post: "Adopting vs Buying, what should you do?"


Click here to book your own session like this!


Session selected as my favorite one of 2014! See the rest here.

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How Good Dog or Equine Photography Can Help Boost Your Pet Business

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How Good Dog or Equine Photography Can Help Boost Your Pet Business

Introduction
 

The pet industry is booming lately as pet ownership is increasing among Americans and people are treating their pets more like children, offering them the best care possible. The pet care industry continued to prosper throughout the recession when many other businesses went bankrupt.

Despite its profitability, there is a lot of competition out there, so how can you make your pet business stand out from the rest? The secret is top quality pet photography. Whether you run a dog walking service, a pooper-scooper service or a dog day care, whether you are a dog trainer, a pet sitter, a pet toy designer or a pet treat manufacturer, the marketing principle is the same: good photos sell.

This map shows how many dog breeders there are in the United States  (these are only the business that has signed up to be shown in Google Local)

This map shows how many dog breeders there are in the United States (these are only the business that has signed up to be shown in Google Local)

A Needle in the Hay

So many pet businesses pay attention to the quality of the services and products they sell, but they struggle to expand their clientele as they get lost among the masses of similar enterprises that exist. Upon taking a closer look at their marketing strategies, you will probably notice that they all have poor or average photos of animals on their website.

An image creates a first impression of your company, so if you don’t spend the time to post attractive photos on your website, people will have a hard time trusting that you made an effort with anything else. Professional pet photography is a small investment that can really make a difference in your pet business’ future earnings.

This is a good example of elegant equine photography used in brochures. Thanks to FullofLife for the photo to illustrate this topic.

This is a good example of elegant equine photography used in brochures.
Thanks to FullofLife for the photo to illustrate this topic.

Free Publicity on the Internet

A lot of advertising is now done online, through social media platforms and company websites. Certain companies attract their customers solely by posting photos on Instagram, which proves that a picture really is worth a thousand words. Great pet photography can truly be the key to distinguishing your pet business. A great photo will attract more people to your website, giving you more publicity and higher chances of selling your products or services. Superior pet photography can also help your website look more serious and professional, proving that you are well experienced in your field.

Snoopy the cat has more than 200,000 followers in his Instagram profile.  Don't underestimate the power of Instagram or other social media platforms like Tumblr.  Instagram has 90 million users that post 40 million photos per day and tap 8,500 likes per second  (source: Instagram).  Tumblr has around 113.5 million posts a day!

Snoopy the cat has more than 200,000 followers in his Instagram profile.

Don't underestimate the power of Instagram or other social media platforms like Tumblr. 
Instagram has 90 million users that post 40 million photos per day and tap 8,500 likes per second (source: Instagram).
Tumblr has around 113.5 million posts a day!

Supply and Demand

Along with increasing pet ownership, there is a growing demand for pet photography. Recent trends show that people online are searching for tons of pet pictures, because they all love to look at photos of cute pets. Even people who have very little in common can connect because of their love for animals.

If you post a few excellent photographs of cute animals on your website, you are sure to develop a widespread following of viewers who want to see more. They will keep returning to your site to see the cute photos, thus increasing your chances of conversion.

Great photographs are not only valuable online or on social media platforms, they can also be used for your offline marketing materials, such as newsletters, brochures, packaging, catalogs, posters, etc. As you know, these advertising and informational materials that you distribute to your potential clients are incredibly important to the success of your business. They need to be tailored by a professional photographer who understands what your goals are. Whether online or off, I can help you create a portfolio of great images that reflect the true spirit of your pet business.

Photo by Frame Your Pet. This photo is part of a commissioned work for CAVA Horse training center, Spain. 

Photo by Frame Your Pet. This photo is part of a commissioned work for CAVA Horse training center, Spain. 

You will surely notice a return on your investment in no time as more and more people are attracted by your stunning images. The more appealing your photos are, the longer people will stay on your website, or read your printed materials, thus increasing the likelihood that they will feel positively about your business and engage your services.


If you are in the pet business and you are thinking of hiring a specialist contact me today for superior pet photography and watch your pet business grow!

 

Related posts: Tips to choose the right pet photographer.


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Why custom pet photography is expensive

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Why custom pet photography is expensive

Costs of running a business + experience and knowledge

The digital revolution has brought amazing flexibility and ability to control various factors during the image taking and making process.  Photographers, the hobbyist, the professional, the amateur all benefit from this ability to manipulate pixels.  However, with flexibility comes a price.  Digital camera equipment is still considerably more expensive when you factor in its’ lifespan, the need for additional resources for processing those images, the time it takes to get a usable image and the effort that goes into creating a work of photographic art. We all know that you can go to the local Walgreen’s and pay a $1.99 for a print – as a client you may wonder why you may pay upwards of $50, $70, $90 for a custom photography print.   Photographers hear this statement every once in a while:

“How in the world can you charge $60 for an 8×10 if it costs me less than $2 to print at x store?”

“How in the world can you charge $60 for an 8×10 if it costs me less than $2 to print at x store?”

The truth of the matter is the answer to this question is multifaceted.  Much of the cost of a photographic print produced by a professional photographer has a lot to do with the time, equipment costs, artistic vision and reputation of the photographer not to mention expertise and the usual costs of running a legitimate business. 

The cost of TIME

Approaching it from a time standpoint, let’s imagine that you have hired a photographer who has work that you love. This photographer is traveling an hour to your destination to photograph your session.  Here is an example of a time break down:

booking time: 30 minutes to one hour (client contact time + paperwork)pre-session prep time (30 mins – 1 hour, includes equipment and back up equipment checks + vehicle checks)one hour travel time TO session15-30 minutes prep time at client’s home90 minutes-2 hours with client photographing subjectone hour travel time FROM session30-45 minutes uploading time from digital cards from camera to computer30-45 minutes time spent backing up the original images2-5 hours editing time to present you with a diverse gallery of edited images1 hour prep time getting ready for ordering2-3 hours time with client for ordering images1 hour sorting through and checking order30 minutes-1 hour prep time for delivery30 minutes-1 hour getting order shippedany additional phone time or time needed for add on ordering, shipment issues, quality issues

In this example, the time spent per client can range from just under 13 hours to 19 hours – dependent on the photographer’s level of service.  This is time dedicated only to ONE session.  When the photographer charges $150-$300 for the photo shoot (aka SESSION FEE) you are not just paying for the two hours of session time, you are paying the photographer for 12-19 hours complete time for your session.

The COSTS of Maintaining a Custom Photography Business:

Regarding equipment costs, a good quality professional camera with a selection of good optical quality lenses and digital storage mediums and computer set up can run from $10,000-$30,000 costs dependent on the photographer.  Even though you can purchase a really good quality digital SLR for about $2100 there are still other costs related to photography.  A good lens for portrait photography can run from $900 to $2500.  A dependable computer system with software loaded for business and creative usage can run $2500 to $8000 dependent on the photographer. Then come lab costs for specialty products.  A good photographer knows their professional lab is an integral part of their success.  These labs often cost more and offer a range of products that allows the custom photographer to continually offer new, innovative products for the discerning client.

Discussion on other costs of running a photography business could take awhile so we’ll skip many of the intricate details.  An overview:  the costs of running the business, taxes, studio rental/mortgage if the photographer has ownership of a dedicated studio, vehicular costs, costs of advertising/marketing, costs of sample pieces that the photographer will likely bring to your session, etc.

APPLES to ORANGES to BANANAS: Often times clients will mention to their photographer that X studio in the mall/department store only charges $19.99 for an 8×10 “sheet” or they may mention other things related to discount photography chains.  The fact is those discount chains make their money on volume, not on customized 1:1 service.  In February 2007 a company who has leased photography retail space in a rather well known discount retailer closed down 500 of their portrait studios across the nation.  The reason it happened is simple, you cannot make money on 99¢ “professional” prints if you do not sell enough of them.  Interestingly enough – those same studios that offer the loss leader packages often charge much much more for their a la carte pricing vs. many custom photographers (as high as $40-50 for an 8×10).

A little history – the whole reason the big department stores began offering portrait services in the first place was to get you, the savvy consumer, in through their door so that you could spend more money with them in other departments.  Your “PORTRAITS” are considered the “loss leader”.  Your portraits that are meant to symbolize a once-in-a-lifetime stage in your child’s life are part of what a store considers a way to get you in there door to spend more money on goods that you might not really want or need but because you’re there “anyway” you buy.

Also keep in mind that when you go to a chain studio, as a consumer, you don’t have the benefit of 1:1 attention for 2 hours at your home where your pet is allowed to explore, play and be comfortable in their home environment, nor do you get the experience that many custom photographers are known for as well as the lovely captures of natural expressions.  You simply get a bare bones, “SAY CHEESE” experience.

REPUTATION/EXPERTISE of the PHOTOGRAPHER:  There is an old story about a ship that cost a company millions of dollars.  Something went wrong in the engine room and the ship was stuck in dock.  They called various “experts” who spent weeks trying to fix the issue to no avail and at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars.  Finally a older gentleman was called in who simply brought in his small tool bag and a hammer.  He set about pinging on various parts of the vast engine with his hammer, finally settling on one area.  He spent a few minutes pinging in that area, took out a few tools and fixed whatever what was wrong.  After a few moments the man straightened up, looked at the captain and instructed him to “start her up.”  The captain disbelievingly went to get the engines started while the man sat in the engine room listening as the engine roared to life.  The man tipped his hat as he exited the ship to the staff who sat dumbfounded because they had seen all the experts come on board for days with their expensive equipment only to have the ship not fixed.  This man did it in a few minutes with a few pings of his hammer!

Alicia Rius (me) on National TV in Spain.

Alicia Rius (me) on National TV in Spain.

A few days passed and the man sent the shipping company a bill for $10,000.  The accounting department contacted him immediately.  Why all the rumors mentioned that this man had only spent “a few minutes” fixing the ship “with his hammer and a few other random tools”.  When questioned about why his bill was for $10,000 – did he accidentally leave an extra zero on the bill?  The man confidently responded: “In fact the time was worth the $1,000.  The other $9,000 was for the years of experience and the ability to discern the issue as quickly as possible for the company.”

Now I’m not saying that photographers fix large ships but being in demand, being well known for quality work, having a good reputation often costs time on the photographer’s part (years of practice, study, experience, etc).  A photographer’s expertise comes at a cost, their time learning their craft and learning the intricacies of lighting and the commitment put forth on their end to create a persona about their business that oozes professionalism.  A great number of photographers go a very long time from the time that they purchase their first good camera to making money at the business of photography.  Many photographers, when first starting out, rush in thinking that the business will be easily profitable in no time, how expensive could it be to get a camera and use it to create their dream?  These photographers often undervalue what they do because they have the realization that they do not have experience or expertise but are very adept at pushing the shutter on the camera.  Many times these casual “professionals” neglect to factor in the cost of business, the cost of equipment, software, back ups, etc... When you hire a photographer of sound reputation, you are hiring an expert, one that knows that they must always reinvest in their business to create the reputation of being top notch.  To create good work a photographer possesses not only sound knowledge in the technical and creative aspects of photography but also good, reliable equipment and back up equipment.

The photographer who desires to be known as better/best/unparalelled reputation-wise knows that the most important thing they can do for their business is reliability and dependability.  This is how reputations get built.  Good work often is a wonderful side product of building that good reputation.

I hope this (lengthy) article helps shed some light on WHY a custom photographer is a better choice for your family’s memories.  The photographs that are produced as a result of the professionalism and dedication that your photographer has will be cherished for a lifetime (or more) and great thought and consideration should be placed into hiring who is right for your family’s most precious investment.

This article was written by Marianne Drenthe of Marmalade Photography and can be found at the Professional Child Photography.


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Outdoor pet photography vs Indoor pet photography, what's best?

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Outdoor pet photography vs Indoor pet photography, what's best?

Welcome to Frame Your Pet's blog. 

My name is Alicia Rius. I am an artist, a fine arts pet photographer, and an animal lover. I moved to San Francisco one year ago and started my local business here in the Mission District. My style in pet photography is different from the traditional pet portraits you might have seen.

I only work with natural light, whether it be for outdoor pet photography or indoor pet photography. Most of my clients come to me to capture their pet's personality, and there is no better place to do this than in a pet’s natural environment. Although my Fine Art Sessions have the studio look, 95% of them are done indoors and with natural light. For indoor pet photography, the pet is not forced to stay in the same spot or to stay quiet in a certain pose. I follow the dog or cat wherever they go and I wait for the right moment to capture that unique moment. Approaching pet photography from this angle eliminates stress for the pet and results in more natural photographs, which are a truer representation of your pet.

My background as an artist and my skills in post-production allow me to create unique photos that are modern, elegant, and dynamic.

As you can imagine, this shot was done outdoors. It would have been impossible to have a white horse running in a studio :)

As you can imagine, this shot was done outdoors. It would have been impossible to have a white horse running in a studio :)

To see more of my equestrian photography portfolio, visit this gallery.

Bonz (the black Bullmastiff in the back howling) & Bosch (the brown Doberman chilling on the shore)

Bonz (the black Bullmastiff in the back howling) & Bosch (the brown Doberman chilling on the shore)

Doing sessions outdoors is great for both animals and their owners. It's a fun experience that allows everyone involved to play around, and this is just as important as capturing great images.

 

I'm often asked which is better, indoor pet photography or outdoor pet photography? Well, as long as the house has an abundance of natural light, then indoors can be just as good as outdoors. It comes down to personal preference and the personality of your pet. Cats, for example, feel more comfortable indoors. Their home is their natural environment and is where they feel calm. Relaxed felines are the ones who will give you the best shoots because they are not stressed out by their surroundings or the photographer’s presence, but instead, feel as if nothing has changed, and they will do what they always do.

 

Boris is a Siberian cat. Initially he was shy, but after 10 minutes of me being there, he got used to me and my camera and he had no problem going back to his usual routine.

Boris is a Siberian cat. Initially he was shy, but after 10 minutes of me being there, he got used to me and my camera and he had no problem going back to his usual routine.

Check out this gallery to see some more cute kitties playing around.

In most of my dog photography sessions, the sessions are split between outdoor and indoor because the goal is to have enough variety of photos to choose from.

For example, here is another photo from Bonz and Bosch taken inside their home. I didn't need much: just good light and a nice background (well, it always helps to have very well-mannered dogs!)

Bosch (brown Doberman on the left) and Bonz (black Bullmastiff on the right) during their indoor session. 

Bosch (brown Doberman on the left) and Bonz (black Bullmastiff on the right) during their indoor session. 

In cases where the natural light is not good enough, I adjust my camera settings to achieve the best result. In the picture above, it was late in the afternoon and the light coming in the gallery wasn't bright enough, so I had to increase my ISO to freeze the image (and I used some dog treats too; why lie?)

 

What about the Fine Art Sessions? Are they done outside or inside?

It all depends on the subject. For the horse, it was done in a field next to the breeder’s location in Spain. But in most cases, the Fine Art Sessions are taken inside. This is because in order to get the animal to pose in a certain way, I need him/her to be totally relaxed and distraction free.

Lluna is a 16 year old white persian cat. At her age, she needs a peaceful setting. 

Lluna is a 16 year old white persian cat. At her age, she needs a peaceful setting. 

Lluna's session approach was a bit different. Since her mom's house lacks an abundance of natural light, she brought the kitty to my hometown in Catalonia. At the beginning, she was a bit uncertain of what was going on, but with patience and a few tasty cat treats, she relaxed.

Although the photos look like studio photos, they are certainly not. I didn't use any studio material like flashes, strobes, or umbrellas. I followed Lluna’s lead and I was fast enough to get these amazing shots of her. Then, the rest is post-production (I mainly use Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CC).

 

In a nutshell, here are some benefits of having a pet photo shoot outdoors:

  • Action shots (running, fetching, jumping, catching a Frisbee, etc.)
  • Variety of shots (action shots, pose shots, portraits, dog interacting with other elements, etc.)
  • Variety of backgrounds (sky, ocean, forest, sand, grass, concrete, graffiti, etc.)
  • More combination of textures and colors
  • Easier to get inspired (just walk around your city and pay attention to all the little details)
  • Dynamic and funny pictures

 

Benefits of an indoor pet photo shoot:

  • More personal environment
  • Convenience
  • Less stressful (in the case of cats or shy pets)
  • Easier to get the Fine Art photos without having to go to a Studio
  • Easier to keep the pet still

 

The conclusion here is: It doesn't matter if it's indoor or outdoor as long as the natural light is good and the surroundings are clean and beautiful. What matters is that your pet can have fun with the session and the photographer is able to be creative with what is available.

If you are thinking of having an indoor or outdoor pet photography session, contact me for a free consultation. We can discuss which options are best for your pet, taking into account his/her age and unique personality. I promise you striking images!

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