Photography | Photography http://www.dogster.com/photography Photography en-us Thu, 26 Feb 2015 08:31:00 -0800 Thu, 26 Feb 2015 08:31:00 -0800 http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss Orion <![CDATA[BuzzFeed Launches Cute or Not, a Tinder-Like App for Dog Photos]]> http://www.dogster.com/the-scoop/buzzfeed-cute-or-not-app-dog-pictures-photos BuzzFeed calls its new pet photo app Cute or Not. Perhaps we can call it … Tender?

Swiping right has a whole new purpose after the company released its new awwww-some photo-sharing app on Wednesday night. Much like the concept of Tinder, this pet-friendly version allows users to vote on whether they think dog and cat pictures are, as the title says, cute or not.

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A display of the Cute or Not app. (Courtesy BuzzFeed)

With a right-swipe, cute wins. If the little guy or gal isn't catching your fancy, swipe to the left ... although I double-dog dare you to swipe left. Are you going to be that person? Really? Who swipes left? 

Available in the Apple Store, Cute or Not allows the user to upload and share photos of their dogs and cats, swipe to view other pets, and have your furry friend's picture featured on BuzzFeed's website -- the pets that earn the most votes as well as some selected by BuzzFeed's editorial team. The user can also earn badges as they discover and share cute pictures. 

How addicting is Cute or Not? Roberto Baldwin of thenextweb.com wrote in a review this week: "I've been testing it for a few days and it's right-swiping crack."

Read more dog news on Dogster:

About the author: Jeff Goldberg is a freelance writer in Quincy, Mass. A former editor for MLB.com and sportswriter for the Hartford Courant who covered the University of Connecticut's women's basketball team (Huskies!) and the Boston Red Sox, Jeff has authored two books on the UConn women: Bird at the Buzzer (2011) and Unrivaled (2015). He lives with his wife, Susan, and their rescue pup, Rocky, an Italian Greyhuahua/Jack Russell mix from a foster home in Tennessee, hence the name Rocky (as in Rocky Top).

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Thu, 26 Feb 2015 08:31:00 -0800 /the-scoop/buzzfeed-cute-or-not-app-dog-pictures-photos
<![CDATA[We Go Behind the Scenes at a "Hot Guys and Baby Animals" Photo Shoot]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/hot-guys-baby-animals-puppies-kittens-photos-pictures-calendar-shoot Any job gets old eventually, right? I mean, how many times can I cuddle a puppy in one hand while straightening the belt on a hot, topless man with the other before it just gets boring? Turns out, the answer is a lot. I've been directing Hot Guys and Baby Animals shoots for five years now, and it hasn't gotten old yet.

It hasn't gotten much easier either, since baby animals always bring chaos. Scratches, barking, and even some potty accidents are par for the course. And that's just the male models.

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Jason poses with Millie.

But after five calendars and three books, my partner Carolyn Newman and I have certainly learned what works well and what doesn't. We know what animals will look good with what models, we know what poses will look best. And we know that we have the best job ever.

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Cover of the 2015 calendar.

"Great, now cuddle that kitten a little closer to your chin. And, can you please take off your shirt." The sun is getting low in the Beverly Hills sky during the shoot for the 2015 calendar, and we're on our sixth hot guy/baby animal pair. We have an entire litter of kittens from Saving Grace rescue and a very patient model named Ronald. Having a whole litter is helpful, because that way we can trade one kitten out for another when the one we're using gets tired or too rambunctious.

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Ronald and Minky.

Part of the purpose of the calendar is to raise awareness and money for animal rescues and shelters. We always work with nonprofit animal organizations and then donate a portion of proceeds to help them continue their amazing work. Part of the fun of the shoots is meeting the founders, volunteers, and foster parents for shelters large and small. I always enjoy talking to these inspiring people who are devoted to finding forever homes for homeless puppies, kittens, and even bunnies. And they often enjoy talking to our male models.

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Shooting for "Hot Guys and Kittens."

We've made more than one love connection ... that is, love between a male model and a baby animal. One of our more inspiring success stories is from our very first calendar in 2010, when Mr. March ended up adopting the male Pit Bull puppy he posed with. And from our most recent shoot, we're pretty sure Leo ended up adopting one of these kittens.

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A page from "Hot Guys and Kittens."

People often ask where Carolyn and I came up with the idea. We've been best friends since junior high, and we've had so many jokes between us since. This was just another funny idea that the two of us thought of as a joke, but we actually decided to pursue it seriously. My dad, Eliot Khuner, is a very talented professional photographer, so choosing him to take all the photos was an easy decision. Since then, our family business has grown quite a bit. In addition to my dad, Carolyn, and me, our shoots are now attended by my husband, Wes (production assistant); my own rescued Schnauzer mix Rusty (makeup); Carolyn's rescued terrier, Lucy (craft services), and my one-year-old daughter, Mina (human resources). We have a number of friends who like to help out as well, often serving as animal wranglers or talent scouts.

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Mina enjoys her first shoot.

Though Carolyn and I are cofounders of the company, we fell quickly into roles that play to our strengths. Carolyn is the producer, and I direct. This means that Carolyn is often organizing puppies while on the phone with a male model who's lost. And I have a kitten in each hand while I'm explaining to a model how to hold a kitten to make him feel safe. The last thing we want is a furry little guy jumping out of a model's arms.

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Expert kitten handling.

Another question we're frequently asked is, where do you get your models? We find our guys from lots of sources. Most of our male models come from ads we post on modeling websites, but we've definitely picked up good-looking guys on the street before. At one point we had all of our girlfriends walking up to men at bars asking, "Have you ever modeled? Can I give you my card?"

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Carolyn and me, hard at work.

We usually shoot in Los Angeles, where many experienced and aspiring male models spend their time. Most are excited by the chance to work with animals. Both because it's fun, and because apparently it's a good shot to have in one's portfolio to show versatility. One thing I'll say about all of our models: They're great sports. It's not always easy to hold a rabbit in just the right way, or look at the camera for 20 minutes while we get a Bulldog puppy to do the same.

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Miguel poses with Moo.

The shoots usually last about three days, sunrise to sunset, and there is never a dull moment. We end each day bone-tired and brain-dead. But it all pays off in the end when we see our beautiful books and calendars on shelves and online, and we get reports of the joy that comes to the people who read them.

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A page out of the 2015 calendar.

Read more about dog photography:

About Audrey Khuner: A contradictory mix of cynicism and sentimentality, Audrey thinks wedding vows are cheesy, yet cries at almost every episode of This American Life. She enjoys walking in the rain with her eight-year-old furry baby, Rusty, and her one-year-old human baby, Mina. When she's not entertaining her little ones, Audrey works as a freelance writer and co-founder of Hot Guys and Baby Animals.

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Tue, 23 Dec 2014 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/hot-guys-baby-animals-puppies-kittens-photos-pictures-calendar-shoot
<![CDATA[Pet Photographer Susan Schmitz Helps Rescue Dogs by Making Them Models ]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/pet-photographer-susan-schmitz-rescue-dogs Susan Schmitz has photographed hundreds of animals for her stock-photo business, A Dog's Life Photography, but her models aren't highly trained professionals.
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"At the time that they were photographed, they were homeless," explains Schmitz. "They were struggling."

The Arizona-based photographer works with local rescue groups to organize photo shoots that serve a dual purpose. The groups receive professional photos to use in adoption listings, while Schmitz licenses the same photos as stock photography. The profits from the photos, as well an an artistic grant she received from one of the photo agencies, Shutterstock, have allowed her to continue shooting portraits of rescue animals. Long after Schmitz' models have been adopted, their images continue to bankroll photo shoots for other animals in need. 

"I can go to Petco or PetSmart and just walk around for hours finding my photos on products -- calendars, keychains and coffee mugs."

Monetizing the photos she takes of homeless pets allows Schmitz to devote time to local rescue groups but still continue to pay the bills at her photography studio. The sustainable business model she has created helps save lives without costing the cash-strapped groups a dime.

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Schmitz poses with a couple of her shelter models. (All photos courtesy of Susan Schmitz / A Dog's Life Photography.)

"Having a professional photo helps the dogs stand out from the sea of dogs available for adoption," says Schmitz, whose work gets the animals noticed on websites such as Petfinder.

"I isolate the animals on a white background. It really brings out their expression, it brings out their personality."

She has more than 800 different animals in her stock photography library -- all of whom have found homes after posing for a picture.

"I can't stay they've been adopted just because of my photos," says Schmitz. "I'm just one part of the rescue community that helps these animals. These rescue groups don't give up."

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Who wouldn't look want to adopt these photogenic darlings?

Schmitz works with several rescue groups, but collaborates most often with Lost Our Home Pet Foundation out of Tempe, Arizona.

"They started back when the economy took a turn for the worst and people were losing their homes," explains Schmitz. "They would go out and find the abandoned animals that were left when people were foreclosed upon -- they would just leave their animals behind."

Schmitz supported Lost Our Home as the organization worked with local law enforcement and real estate agents to rescue these abandoned animals, and she continues to support the group by snapping photos of adoptable pets.

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This photo could melt even the coldest of hearts.

"They've just really grown, and they are doing such an amazing job," she says.

Many would say the same about Schmitz, who offers local rescues the chance to bring two animals to her studio once a month and sometimes also sets up a mobile studio at shelters.

After photographing hundreds of dogs and cats over the years, Schmitz is finally getting to the point where she can't quite recall the names of the animals when she spots her shots in public, but she can usually recognize her own work.

"The other day, I was driving home from a friend's house and saw one of the cats I photographed on a big billboard," she says.

The cat's stock photo was on the billboard as part of a shelter campaign. It's quite common for Schmitz's photos to be selected for adoption-related materials, even though those selecting the stock images often don't know they're looking at real shelter survivors (and helping more by buying the photo).

"Without even knowing it, they're saving an animal," says Schmitz.

Her own dog, Oliver -- whom Schmitz adopted after photographing -- is quickly becoming one of her top models, and his pictures are often used in adoption-related campaigns.

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An adorable adoptee.

"He's promoting shelters, animal rescues, and spay and neuter clinics around the world," says Schmitz, who recently adopted a second terrier who can follow Oliver's top-model lead. "Her name is Abdie. She's just getting started as a stock model."

Schmitz has some advice for photographers who, like Abdie the dog model, are just getting started. "I would encourage other photographers to get involved and give back. Even if it's not in the animal community, there's always a need for charities to have good photos."

Schmitz says donating her time to rescue groups was how she transitioned from taking pictures of families and kids to capturing the subjects that she found the most compelling -- pets. She says volunteering helped her hone her skills and make important contacts that have benefited her business. Schmitz encourages other photographers interested in rescue to check out HeART Speak.

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Schmitz getting the shot.

"That organization brings together photographers from around the world who are willing to devote their time to rescue groups and do something similar to what I'm doing," she explains. Schmitz hopes other people (not just photographers) find a way to contribute to the rescue organizations who need help.

She may not think she deserves the credit, but to the hundreds of animals who found homes because of her portraits, Schmitz is more than just a photographer -- she's a hero.

Read more about dog photographers:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat Specter and and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

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Mon, 15 Dec 2014 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/pet-photographer-susan-schmitz-rescue-dogs
<![CDATA[We Interview Sophie Gamand, The Photographer Behind the Wet Dog Photo Project]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/funny-wet-dog-pictures-photos-sophie-gamand-pet-photography-interview The Wet Dog photography project does exactly what its name implies -- it captures a bunch of dogs in the midst of enjoying a bath. The resulting portraits fall somewhere between endearingly freaky and straight-up funny, as the dogs pout and grin while their hair is tousled and twisted into all manner of otherworldly styles.

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Wet Dog image via Sophie Gamand's Striking Paws website

The lenswoman behind Wet Dog is Sophie Gamand, a French-born, New York-based photographer who has become something of a canine portrait expert. (Her website also contains a section offering tips for snapping pics of your own dog at home.)

With a Wet Dog book being planned for release next year, I called up Sophie and found out how she stumbled into the Wet Dog concept, talked about the problems of excessive water-shaking, and learned that she'll be hosting an open casting call looking for the next batch of Wet Dogs very soon.

Dogster: When did the idea for Wet Dog come about?

Sophie: It kinda arrived when I was working on a photo shoot with a groomer [Ruben Santana] in September of 2013. I was photographing for a project I called Metamorphosis which is about grooming and the physical transformation of the doggies. During the process of the grooming, Ruben started bathing the dogs and that day I was open to photographing anything, so I started photographing the dogs in the tub. When I got home and looked at the photos I realized there was a series of wet dogs there. I shot the series on my website in one day.

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Wet Dog image via Sophie Gamand's Striking Paws website

Which dog was the first official Wet Dog?

I think it was the little black one, who was pretty subdued. This was a little female and she was very subdued.

Did the photo shoot get messy?

The problem is the dogs shake, so I had to cover my lens all the time and turn away from them quickly. You kinda learn how to sense when they're going to shake. I guess the trick for Wet Dog was to try and get them to not shake too quickly, because when the water is dripping from their faces, that's when the photos are the cutest and the most interesting. So we'd pour water on the dog and try and distract them from shaking.

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Wet Dog image via Sophie Gamand's Striking Paws website

How did most of the dogs react during the shoot?

Well, my favorite is the little white one with the mohawk -- and he did not like it! He was trying to jump out of the tub and he was harder to photograph. Then there's the little white one that looks like Einstein -- he was a very jumpy one who tried to escape too! But then the alien-looking one was shaking a lot and I don't think he minded so much. He's a Pomeranian mix and he's so cute and has this big smile, but on that photo he's kinda horrible, you know?

It's about editing and the images that attract me. I have a lot of different versions of each doggie, and those are the ones that spoke to me the most.

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Wet Dog image via Sophie Gamand's Striking Paws website

Were you looking for any particular breeds or personalities for the Wet Dog models?

Actually, so far I've photographed only small dogs like Malteses and little Poodles and Shih Tzus so I'm definitely looking for bigger dogs in the future. I'm going to try and organize a big casting call. I'll be looking for bigger dogs and bigger breeds.

I also think I'd like for the doggies to have medium or long hair, but I'm also interested to see what's gonna happen to short hair dogs with this project.

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Wet Dog image via Sophie Gamand's Striking Paws website

How do you think a short-haired Wet Dog would look?

Well at first, I was very interested in how the hair reacts to the water so I wanted long hair, but then after the first series was complete I realized that expression is really what makes it. So I think short-haired dogs might have great expressions. I don't even need dogs that like to be bathed -- actually if they hate it then it might work out better! -- so what I'm really looking for is the expression on their faces. 

You mentioned a casting call looking for new dogs for the series. When will that be?

It will be between April and July. I'll put the details on my Facebook page, so that's the best way for people to keep up with it. I was also thinking of having a big Wet Dog party this summer.

What would the Wet Dog party involve?

I'm not sure yet but I'm thinking outdoors, a lot of water, and a lot of doggies playing in the sun.

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Wet Dog image via Sophie Gamand's Striking Paws website

Do you have any tips if someone wants to attempt a Wet Dog-style photograph at home?

I guess the main thing is having somebody to help you -- it's definitely not a one-person job unless your dog is pretty chill in the bathtub. Ruben, the pet stylist, was the one who was handling the dogs during the shoot for me.

Finally, do you have any dogs yourself?

I don't! I say I have too many dogs in my life to have a dog. I literally hang out with dogs all day for my work. And it's New York -- I wouldn't want to have a dog here.

Read more about dog photographers:

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.

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Fri, 07 Mar 2014 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/funny-wet-dog-pictures-photos-sophie-gamand-pet-photography-interview
<![CDATA[Professional Photographers are Snapping Pics and Saving Shelter Pets' Lives]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/dog-cat-animal-rescue-adoption-shelters-professional-photographers-volunteer
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Sometimes, something as simple as a well-taken photo can save a life.

Just ask Zulu.

The gentle blue-nosed Pit Bull with deformed front legs was on death row at Tangipahoa Parish Animal Control in Hammond, Louisiana when a photo saved his life. Professional photographer Nanette Martin and volunteers with Shelter-Me Photography (SMP) were in the right place at the right time for Zulu, and a portrait taken that day of the friendly but tired dog prompted a local rescue group to immediately pull him from the shelter. Zulu then went to Fur Angels Animal Sanctuary -- a special-needs rescue in Indiana -- before being adopted by Sarah and Monica, animal rescuers who already had three other special-needs dogs, but made room at their home for Zulu. Today, Zulu is happy and healthy and wears a special brace on his front leg to help with mobility. For Martin, Zulu's journey from a shelter cage to a new life in a loving family is the only one she's seen full-circle, but she knows that the photos she's taken of other shelter pets have resulted in many other lives being saved.

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Zulu's original shelter photo on the left didn't do the beautiful dog justice. Thanks to Martin's shot (middle), Zulu can now pose for family portraits with his new loving owners. Photo courtesy of Nanette Martin.

Martin began volunteering as a photographer for shelter animals in Louisiana in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina. In March of 2006, while helping to transport shelter dogs from Louisiana to Georgia, Martin was asked to take photos of the animals so that they could be viewed online while en route. She did, and nearly every dog was spoken for by the time they reached their destination. From that success grew Shelter-Me Photography, a 501(c)(3) non-profit animal welfare organization co-founded by Martin and her wife, Sonja Andreasson, in 2009.

Shelter-Me Photography's mission is to facilitate and accelerate the adoption of shelter animals by volunteering to take professional portraits that show off their personalities and beautiful traits. Far from typical shelter photos of scared or nervous dogs huddled at the back of a kennel or shot through the bars of a cage, SMP strives to capture the spirit of the animal and create an emotional connection between the animal and the viewer. 

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Caught in action: Nanette Martin taking photos of the animals at the SPCA of Erie County. Photo by Tess Moran of Tess Moran Photography via Shelter Me Photography's Facebook page.

In addition, SMP has been working with Purina One since 2011, and Martin divides her time between photographing shelter animals, teaching photography workshops for shelter employees, preparing reference materials and participating in "How To" instructional photography videos. When she is not traveling around the US or shooting for Purina, Martin continues to perform her duties as executive director for SMP.

And all that hard work and dedication has certainly paid off for the animals in front of the lens.

"Shelter-Me Photography has been able to photograph over 6,000 animals in more than 75 shelters across 16 states," says Martin. "I've personally photographed over 9,000 animals, including 3,000 prior to founding SMP." 

The photos themselves can help change the public's perception of shelter animals by helping to convey the spirit and beauty of the animal, regardless of the dog's breed, age, or color. Something as simple as a well-composed and properly lit photo can make a shelter manager think twice about euthanizing an animal or trigger an emotion in people that encourages them to come see the pet in person.

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Say cheese! A professional style picture is really worth a thousand words for shelter pets. SMP's photographs allow the endearing personalities of the dogs to shine through and result in many successful adoptions. Photo via Shelter Me Photography's Facebook page.

"Our images have increased traffic at every shelter, rescue and foster organization we have visited, which in turn has led to increased adoption rates, some as high as 100% for the animals photographed," Martin says.

And some breeds need all the help they can get.

Pit Bulls are often victims of prevalent, negative stereotypes and are routinely euthanized at shelters, or can wait months (or years) in a cage before being adopted. Martin knows that the power of a great picture can and has saved these dogs' lives. "I can think of five [Pit Bulls] that I photographed within 12 hours of their scheduled euthanasias, and the pictures got every one of them out alive," she says.

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Puppo spent five years without a visitor at a no-kill shelter in New York, says Martin. Just four days after his photo was taken by SMP and posted online, Puppo found a new home. Photo courtesy of Nanette Martin.

Hilary Benas, a professional photographer who volunteers with Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue, is responsible for catching the shot of Captain Morgan being reunited with his foster mom that went viral. For her, organizations like Shelter-Me Photography are important in that they reach out to teach amateur photographers how to better use their cameras in order to snap potentially life-savings shots of shelter animals in their own communities. 

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Benas often photographs dogs (like Adelaide here) available for adoption at Badass Brooklyn's adoption events in New York. Photo by Hilary Benas via Badass Brooklyn's Foster Dog's Facebook page.

In fact, the trend is certainly catching on, and Martin says she regularly receives emails from people all over the US and in other countries who wish to start a similar program to Shelter-Me Photography.

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It's no surprise that a professional style shot of a shelter pet can mean the difference between life and death for the animal. Photo via Shelter Me Photography's website.

But for Martin, the technique for capturing great shots of shelter animals is anything but new. She shows up at shoots with all the necessary equipment in tow (including -- but not limited to -- squeaky toys), and will keep shooting until "we run out of pets to photograph or they kick me out!" she says. "When conditions are right, it takes me less than a couple of minutes to photograph one dog," she adds. "Our best record is 188 pets in 6 hours."

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When SMP volunteers went to a Louisiana shelter to photograph the animals, they met Buck, an emaciated hound with a broken spirit. A day after his photo (left) was posted, Buck was adopted by a woman in Mississippi, and within a month he was back at a normal weight and full of life. Photo courtesy of Nanette Martin.

Unfortunately, Shelter-Me Photography's Colorado office was severely damaged by the September 2013 flooding in Boulder, and the group lost thousands of dollars worth of valuable photography gear and supplies. As a result, much of their volunteer work photographing shelter animals has been postponed. To help them replace their equipment so they can continue their mission to save these animals, please consider donating to the fundraiser that has been set up specifically to rebuild SMP following the devastating flood damage.

And for those interested in getting involved with SMP or for more information on how you can help, please check out their website or email them at info@sheltermephotography.org.

About Crystal Gibson: A child-sized Canadian expat in France who is fluent in French and sarcasm. Owned by a neurotic Doxie mix, a Garfield look-alike, and two needy Sphynx cats. An aspiring writer and pet photographer with a love of coffee and distaste for French administration, she can be found blogging over at Crystal Goes to Europe.

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Fri, 01 Nov 2013 08:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-cat-animal-rescue-adoption-shelters-professional-photographers-volunteer
<![CDATA["Senior Dogs Across America" Lovingly Chronicles Aging Dogs]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/dog-photos-senior-dogs-across-america-nancy-levine Bestselling American writer Agnes Sligh Turnbull once said, "Dogs' lives are too short. ... Their only fault, really."

When bringing a new puppy home, there's always that dread in the back of your head -- one day, you'll have to say "Farewell," at least until you can be reunited at the Rainbow Bridge. Dogs lives are simply not as long as ours, which makes their limited time with us all the more precious.

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Cooper, 15 yo, New York City, New York

For photographer Nancy LeVine, watching her own two dogs approach their final days served as impetus for a cross-country journey capturing images of aging dogs occupying all facets of life in America, evoking the sensibilities of Robert Frank's The Americans.

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Breebee, 21 yo, Nuny, 19 yo, Ralston, Wyoming

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Abby, 9 yo, Mercer Island, Washington

In observing these dogs and immortalizing them with photographic grace and dignity, LeVine puts it best in her artist statement for the body of work she calls Senior Dogs Across America: "I saw how the dog does it [aging]; how, without the human’s painful ability to project ahead and fear the inevitable, the dog simply wakes to each day as a new step in the journey."

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Suzy, 10 yo, Natches, Mississippi

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Champ, 9 yo, Butte County, South Dakota

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Joon, 16 yo, Sandwich, Massachusetts

With sensitivity, respect, and compassion, LeVine's photos tell a poignant story about what it's like to live unaware of a body that is falling apart around you, of approaching obstacles without fear, and of accepting mortality with animal joy.

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Jake, 16 yo, Higgins, Texas

All photos via Nancy LeVine's website and used with permission. Please like her Senior Dogs Across America with Photographer Nancy LeVine Facebook page to receive updates on the series.

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Fri, 16 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/dog-photos-senior-dogs-across-america-nancy-levine
<![CDATA[Sebastian Magnani Creates Striking Human-Dog Portraits]]> http://www.dogster.com/bolz/photos-sebastian-magnani-human-dog-portraits You know how they say you end up looking like your dog? Swiss photographer Sebastian Magnani takes the concept to the extreme with his photo manipulations of dogs and their humans.

In his series titled "Underdogs," Magnani masterfully blends portraits of dogs with portraits of their humans. They're not as weird as you'd think. In fact, they almost seem like a logical progression.

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The project originated in 2009, when Magnani had the spontaneous idea to merge a photo of his dog and a photo of his friend into one image -- an image that would contain both of his favorite people. The image found its way into a skateboard magazine, and Magnani found his way into a dog-training school, where, naturally, he found more material for his crazy idea.

The resulting images are not always of a dog and his or her human friend -- sometimes the dog belongs to someone else -- but the result is a seamless and dramatic merging of two creatures who've been in one another's lives for thousands of years.

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Aside from making a powerful comment on the dog-and-human bond, the photographs are striking on their own, inviting us to consider our relationship with dogs -- its significance, its lessons, and its humor.

Via Laughing Squid 

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Fri, 19 Oct 2012 09:00:00 -0700 /bolz/photos-sebastian-magnani-human-dog-portraits
<![CDATA[Photographer Carli Davidson Captures Pets' Personalities]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/dog-photography-carli-davidson Photographer Carli Davidson’s images of pets are frequently surprising. She does not attempt to capture animals at their cutest and cuddliest moments. Instead she’ll catch a big black dog mid-shake, its ears and lips flapping, or a mostly toothless Sphynx cat mid-yawn.

Some of the animals look shy; others look inspired. Some look like they’re about to tell you a secret or maybe make fun of your haircut. But one thing all of the photos have in common is that they speak. They express that these are people’s family members who have loved and been loved.

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Davidson is able to snap these unexpected and seemingly hard-to-capture moments because her work stems from a deep place of love and respect for animals. Many people have come to appreciate the vast spectrum of animal experience and emotion thanks to the photos she’s shared via her online portfolio and Facebook page

“I look for ways to capture my respect for them with my art,” she says. “I can see when an animal is comfortable, or stressed, or excited. I look for their strengths and amplify them. In a way, the animals direct the shoots.” 

In many ways, Davidson's career as a pet photographer has been a lifetime in the making. She grew up in a family who loved animals, and she and her sister were encouraged to explore nature, learning to catch snakes and build terrariums before they had Barbies. They “walked the streets on rainy nights, saving frogs and salamanders from a rubbery fate.”

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She got her first dog, Dempsey, when she was six. “I remember going to get him from some godawful pet store in New Rochelle, New York,” she says. “He was a three-month-old brindle Boxer, all wiggly and exuberant the way Boxers are. That first night I slept with him wrapped in a big blanket at the bottom of our kitchen stairs, and he was my best friend for the next 13 years. I was a hyperactive, socially awkward child, and Dempsey comforted me through a lot of social challenges early on.”

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She began sharing her love of animals and nature with others by volunteering at the local nature preserve and wildlife education center when she was in middle school. Bolstered by the encouragement of her creative parents, she took her first photography class a couple of years later, and she and her Nikon F2 were “inseparable for a long time.” Since then, her photographs of animals and people have become internationally known, and her unique perspectives of four-legged friends have captivated many animal lovers.

“I mostly shoot things I’m curious about,” she says. “I guess the feeling behind my images is that I’m working with my peers more than I’m photographing some animal. I’m curious about who they are, about their life story, just like I am when I do documentary work with people. Photography is just an avenue for my sense of exploration.”

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Puli dog catches a ball.

One of her more recent series has been the Pets with Disabilities Project. While walking along an Oregon beach a couple of years ago, Davidson was inspired by a German Shepherd in a doggy wheelchair enjoying a game of fetch.

“It was so happy, a dog doing what dogs do, totally undeterred by its disability,” she says. “I felt inspired by the whole scenario. The owner made this choice, out of love, to do a little extra work every day to make sure his friend was happy and comfortable. I thought a lot about this pair in the following weeks, and decided I wanted to create a project showcasing differently abled pets … to show the world that they are happy, thriving companions. They are not sad; they are not in pain; and the owners and animals continue to be a great value to one another.”

One striking example of the resiliency and adaptability of animals is evident in the story of Ramen Noodle, a young poodle who lost both of his front legs in separate accidents before he was two years old. Amazingly, shortly after losing the second, he was up and running on his hind legs, almost resembling a tiny, furry person. He continues to live with the veterinary technician who rescued him after his first amputation.

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Ramen Noodle lost both his front legs.

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Ramen Noodle uses his street wheels.

“I can’t say I was surprised at how happy he was, how much he was just a normal dog,” Davidson says. “By the time I worked with him I had shot a few other dogs for the series and knew not to assume anything. That said, he is inspiring in how simple he makes it all look. He barks at strangers and loves playing with toys. He’s very much a happy, healthy young poodle.” 

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Prints of Davidson’s photographs are available via her online shop, with 10 percent of proceeds donated to Best Friends Animal Rescue in Utah. She hopes to continue communicating the acceptance and vitality of disabled pets through her photographs. “I really hope what people take away from these stories is information to make decisions for their own pets, an appreciation for the resilience of all animals, and ultimately a sense of normalcy from the photos and stories,” she says. 

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Tue, 17 Jul 2012 03:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-photography-carli-davidson
<![CDATA[Dogsters: We Want to See Photos of Your Dog Memorials! ]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/dog-memorials "You've been tagged!"

I bet you’ve gotten that subject line a few times over the years, and if you're like me and it’s not the sort of social networking that floats your boat, you just deleted the email and got on with life. But for those of us who have loved dogs and cats throughout our lives, “tagged” has a totally different meaning.

Responsible owners have long understood the importance of keeping their fur babies up to date with necessary shots. The jingle made by Curly Jean as she trotted up and down the stairs to and from her clandestine spot at my parents’ bedroom door wasn’t from a bell. It was her name tag and rabies’ tag lightly clinking together: pure music which will live in my memory forever.

As I mentioned last week, I keep the tags for Dudley, Sterling, and Curly Jean on my key chain.

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Here they are spread out. The top two tags weren’t actually worn by Curly Jean and Sterling. They are tags I had made years after they had passed away when we were doing testing for our Together Tag Safe Pet Registry & Alert Network.

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As memorials go, my particular method comes across as being pretty lame compared to what people have been posting to last week’s column, "How Do You Honor the Memory of a Dog?" The article obviously struck a chord, because the comments are still coming in.

Some of you also posted pictures:

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Lori’s Cabinet for Lucy & Miss Madhi

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Muffy’s Rug made by Bonzer’s Mom.

And the descriptions of garden memorials, curio cabinets, special Christmas stockings, and other precious memorials sound simply wonfurrful -- so wonfurrful that I want to see them. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

To that end, this is what I thought we could do.

Send photos of your memorials to me at Dogsters@Dogster.com with “Watch Dog Pet Memorial Column" in the subject heading. Be sure to use the email address you use to log in to Dogster or include your pet’s ID number, because everyone who sends a photo will receive 100 Zealies

That’s right. EVERYONE!

And (cue the movie guy announcer voice), that’s not all. There’s no expiration date for this one!

If you read this article a month from now and send me a picture of your pet memorial, you’ll still get 100 Zealies. There’s no expiration date for the memories we have for our departed fur babies, so why should there be one for getting Zealies for sending your memory photo?

Til next week!

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Thu, 07 Jun 2012 07:30:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-memorials
<![CDATA[The Classic Canine Humor of Dog Photographer Ron Schmidt]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/dog-photographer-ron-schmidt Years into the future, Ron Schmidt's photographs of Grace, Joy, Rudy, and Scout will be with us. With any luck, canine lovers will be uttering those names and talking about Loose Leashes for a long time.

“When I create an image, I try not to use any really modern props. I try to use things that have a timeless feel,” Ron says. “Whenever I have a prop, I look for something older with a retro feel to it.” Loose Leashes is the name of Ron’s company, which creates smart, witty images for dog lovers globally. 

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Comet. Credit: Ron Schmidt.

Dogster readers who have oohed or aahed at a photo of a dog in a swing, blowing a bubble, or licking a bakery store window have experienced the magic of Ron's work. 

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Biscuit. Credit: Ron Schmidt.

Loose Leashes, which was formed in 2004, is a fitting company name, as Ron tells it: “All the images represent the freedom that a dog would have without someone holding its leash. These are the things dogs would do if no one was around and they had absolute freedom.” 

A dog lover, Ron was always a photography buff, having studied the subject at the Brooks Institute. So how does a fashion and celebrity freelance assistant branch out on his own into the world of dog photography? Ron’s branches extended via a Christmas tree, a Labrador Retriever, and the cover of a holiday card.

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Bella. Credit: Ron Schmidt.

“I took a picture of my dog, Indy, carrying a tree on her back," he says. "A bag full of cheese and a hundred photographs later, the photo became our Christmas card that year. It was a fun, conceptual image that was a big hit with everyone who saw it. Since I love dogs and photography, this worked out really well.”

As an artist, Ron considers his images concepts and not portraits. Sitting with his idea book, he flips through magazines for objects and inspiration to start the creative process. He explains, “I want my images to be strikingly interesting and classic humor but not over the top.” 

Case in point, the photographer’s favorites: Lewie and Clark, two Labrador Retrievers on an eternal quest for a tennis ball. Ron builds the props for his images, including a bottomless canoe built in his basement for the famous "The Adventurers" shot. “That image sums it all up, having this pair on a timeless adventure for an ever-lost, just-out-of-reach tennis ball is a great story,” he says.

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Lewie & Clark, "The Adventurers." Credit: Ron Schmidt.

Perusing his puppy pictorials, there is a uniqueness to the way images are labeled. “The names come after, and that is one of the unique things about my work. I try to make them characters. My wife, Amy, and I will come up with a name first and then develop some bullet points about the dog’s personality,” he says.

With all of these off-the-beaten-path doggie depictions, the photographer has experienced some unforgettable moments. As Ron’s photo assistant and dog handler, Amy tells of one encounter. “For the shot of Biscuit [the dog licking the bakery window] we had a woman who came for the shoot with five Boston Terrier show dogs. I had to pick them up and have each of them lick cheese off the glass. It turns out I am very allergic to Terriers and was completely covered in hives by the end of the shoot!”  

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Posy. Credit: Ron Schmidt.

Amy also blogs as Sam, the couple’s Labrador Retriever. Ron beams, “Amy will come up with a concept or idea of something that happened last week and write it in Sam’s words and how he might react, with her own twist.” Sam’s Dog Blog has become a popular feature of the Loose Leashes site. 

Combining pictures and prose is another layer of Ron’s passion and vision. With one kids’ book already in his portfolio, he's working on a second for Random House, featuring a day at school told through the eyes of a puppy. 

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Twist. Credit: Ron Schmidt.

If you've tried to photograph your own dogs in an attempt to capture that one perfect photo, you know how difficult it can be. “Take lots of pictures, since you can always delete the ones you don’t want,” Ron says. “Sunlight is always helpful for dark-colored dogs, especially for black Labs who are notoriously hard to light. Take photos from a variety of angles.”

During some shoots, Ron says he takes 500 to 1,000 pictures to capture just the right expression, with the right twinkle in a dog’s eye.

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Bonecrushers. Credit: Ron Schmidt.

For the Schmidts, touching lives goes beyond creating an image. Each month, they donate. They focus on dogs or animal-related charities, like the Humane Society. “We have a lot of Facebook fans, so we can highlight the charity on our page. That is ultimately the goal,” he says. “The more we can do, the better.”

With all of his successes, where else can this creative mind go? “We would love to have a Loose Leashes store/gallery. We love the social component of having people and dogs in our workspace throughout the day.” He envisions doubling or quadrupling the amount of images he has, and to have staff as well.

Much like the dogs he photographs, Ron is a free spirit following his dream, embracing his passion, and capturing the timeless energy and essence of canines in their purest form.  

Check out Ron’s work at the Loose Leashes website and on Facebook.

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Wed, 06 Jun 2012 03:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-photographer-ron-schmidt
<![CDATA[Do You Tether Your Dog While You Shop?]]> http://www.dogster.com/bolz/tethering-dogs When Jon Sung started taking photos of dogs in San Francisco tied outside of shops waiting patiently for their humans, he had no idea he would amass a collection of more than 500 photos over a course of seven years. Sung posts the photos to his Tumblr, Dogblog, along with snappy captions (included below) that lend humor to the mournful faces of these pups.

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And then there’s that certain breed of dog we know only as the Woe Sponge, so named for his ability to soak up not only the dolor of the world at large, but your own as well, removing it from your body after only a few seconds of gentle pats on the head. Remarkably, the Woe Sponge never needs to be wrung out, as he is self-renewing and eternal.

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Not pictured: the magical glowing portal to another dimension embedded in the wall that winked out of existence half a second before I took this shot.

The freelance copywriter, musician, and self-proclaimed "minor baron of the Internet" doesn't have a dog of his own, but finds them hilarious. He got the idea for Dogblog when he was a resident of the Noe Valley neighborhood, where lots of people take their dogs out and about, tethering them to parking signs, bike racks, and benches while they shop.

Sung was moved by the expressions on the dogs' faces, and so he started snapping photos with his camera and saving them as "Forlorn Dogs." Deciding that others may want to partake in his amusement, he turned to Blogger, and then finally landed at Tumblr.

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The President of Dogs wants your attention for just a second. It’s a vital matter of national security. Did you or did you not remember to get an extra rawhide bone, the kind the President likes, and if you did not, what are you still doing here.

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When you think about it, dogs are essentially just cheerful wolves who we happened to make pals with a few thousand years ago.

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The Ambassador’s remarks are concluded for the evening. Please enjoy the reception in the courtyard. The palace guards will show you the way.

After seven years of posting dog photos, Sung doesn't see an end in sight, saying that "dogs will never stop being hilarious."

Editor's note: What do you guys think of tethering dogs outside shops? I personally would never do it out of fear that my pup would be snatched up. 

Images from Dogblog, story via Animal Tracks 

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Fri, 01 Jun 2012 12:00:00 -0700 /bolz/tethering-dogs
<![CDATA[Should Your Dog Tag Along on Your Romantic Photo Shoot?]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/should-your-dog-tag-along-on-your-romantic-photo-shoot
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Janine, Jeff and Moxie

It started, as many things did for me in 2010, when I was younger, less heavily tattooed, and somewhat broker than I am now: with a Groupon.

At the time, I remember being bummed that my partner of many years still hadn't asked me to marry him. Then I decided I didn't need a blingy ring on my finger to qualify for a romantic, engagement-style photo shoot. I was browsing the deal sites for kicks when I came across Jennifer Michelson and her one-woman photography biz, A Girl and a Camera, and decided it couldn't hurt to drop her a line. Two years later, I have some completely amazing photos on display beneath the glass of my coffee table and I couldn't be happier we did it.

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Moxie, Janine, and Jeffrey.

Jeff and I decided upon nearby Lafayette Park for a venue for several reasons -- the gorgeous eucalyptus trees and views of the city, for sure, but mainly because it was Mr. Moxie's favorite park and there was no way he was going to be left out of the shoot.

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Please ignore the fact that my boobs are trying to escape my shirt. Thanks!

We showed up half an hour early to let him run his little houndy butt off before Jen showed up, and when she did he was pretty close to being on his best behavior. And let's just say a small bag of the smelliest treats possible didn't hurt. Posing with your partner and trying to contribute to a romantic shot was a little awkward at times, but Moxie's presence brought much-needed comic relief and helped us feel at home. 

Jen has had many adorable pooches participate in her couples' photography over the years, and I recently asked her if she'd be cool with sharing some photos and tips with partners who may want to include their dogs in the wedding or engagement shots. She awesomely agreed, and we hope you enjoy her photos as much as we do.

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Dexter, Lisa, and Adam - the engagement shoot.

Dogster: Jen, what have been some of your favorite shoots where pets were involved?

I love animals, so shoots with pets pretty much all end up among my favorites. Having a dog at a shoot adds another level of energy, not to mention another level of cuteness as well.

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More from Dexter, Lisa, and Adam's engagement shoot.

What tips would you give a couple trying to include the family dog in a photo shoot?

Unless your dog is Lassie (i.e. super-well-trained), the chances are your dog isn't going to do everything you (or I) say. The dog is in a new environment and is probably excited by the new smells and other things going on. I would avoid trying too hard to get the dog to pay attention. The best thing is to let the dog do his or her thing. 

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Kiwi, Meghan, and Egor.

I try to put my subjects in the light I want and then let them interact. I'm able to get some great spontaneous emotions, and I always somehow manage to get the shot where everyone is looking at the camera -- even the dog.  It just causes too much tension when everyone is telling the dog, "Look over here!" Bringing a squeaky toy and treats is also always helpful. Bottom line, though: What is most important is to have fun!

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Sometimes the dog steals the show!

Do you have any silly/funny/frustrating anecdotes from one of these couples-plus-dog photo sessions to share?

I love when a dog is just being a dog. I will have my couples in this romantic embrace or kissing and the dog does a big yawn with tongue out or starts licking their faces and totally breaks the mood. While the following story might not be silly, funny, or frustrating, I do think it's important.

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Loki, Maddie, and Paul. That dog's face is priceless!

I had one couple schedule a photo shoot for themselves and their beloved Australian shepherd, Rocky. Unfortunately, shortly before the date for the shoot arrived, Rocky had to be taken to the hospital.  He had been such a part of their lives for so long that they were overjoyed when he was able to be released the morning of the shoot and was well enough to join. With all his years, he wasn't as energetic as many of the younger dogs that couples will bring to sessions, but as I set up the shots and watched the couple interact with him, I saw the joy in Rocky's face in being back with his family and it reminded me one of the reasons I love doing what I do. 

Rocky wasn't expected to be with us much longer. Photographs and memories in the hearts of our loved ones are what we leave behind, and remembering that I'm playing a small part in that elevates what might appear to be "just another photo shoot" into something incredibly special -- a celebration of a life.

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Another look at this adorable trio.

What is the most difficult part of having a pet involved in the shoot, and how did you troubleshoot this in your own shoots?

I think the hardest part is actually when the human subject is so preoccupied with getting the dog to look at the camera that I have to fight to get the human's attention. Also -- paw marks on my pants, but that's easy to take care of. 

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Wide shot.

What do you think including a pet adds to an engagement or wedding photo session?

When I do an engagement session, I want to tell the couple's story with the images. What better way than to include something they love so much? I have occasionally had clients who seem pretty closed off or shy. However, once you get them around their dog, it's amazing how much they soften up and what kind of emotions you can capture. 

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More from Dexter, Lisa, and Adam's engagement shoot.

Do you think it's advisable to include a dog in the wedding party from your experience? Or did it look like too much work for everybody involved?

I just did a wedding this past season where the couple's dog, Dexter, was in the wedding. He had a custom-made tux with tails and a top hat! It was a little hard making sure everything stayed on, but in the long run it was well worth it. He is part of the family and he looked amazing in the pictures. 

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Dexter, Lisa, and Adam - the wedding shoot.

What locations do you think are the most ideal for folks trying to incorporate a pet into the picture?

I think it just depends on the dog. Just like humans, you want your subject to be comfortable. That's when you get some of the best images. So pick a place that isn't too distracting.

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Girly, Salene, and Candy.

Dogster readers: What have your experiences been trying to get your dogs to cooperate for a photo shoot?

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Maddy, Heidi and Michael at the couples' beach wedding.

All photos via A Girl and a Camera Photography

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Tue, 17 Apr 2012 03:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/should-your-dog-tag-along-on-your-romantic-photo-shoot
<![CDATA[Diving Dogs: Seth Casteel's Amazing Underwater Pet Photography]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/underwater-dog-photos-seth-casteel Los Angeles- and Chicago-based pet photographer Seth Casteel skyrocketed to overnight success when his stunning underwater pictures of dogs diving for balls and toys went viral a few weeks back, racking up thousands of likes on Facebook and jam-packing his calendar with interviews and invitations to fly all over the world. The 31-year-old Dogster fan, who has two dogs of his own, now ponders his newfound fame.

Dogster: So you're being deluged with calls and emails right now?

Seth: Yes. I had about 895 e-mails awaiting responses when we talked two days ago, and I've gotten about 1,200 more e-mails since then. I'm trying to get through them as fast as I can -- sorting out which ones are from the media, which ones are from potential clients. ... I'm getting all kinds of crazy requests, and everybody's wondering why I can't respond sooner.

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 Requests? For what?

Well, there are requests from people who want me to photograph their pets here in the US, and from people who want me to photograph their pets elsewhere in the world -- I don't even know how many countries. Most of the e-mails thus far have been from Europe, but I've also gotten a lot from Australia and Latin America, and right now it's starting to take off in Asia.

People want to fly me out to wherever they are. For example, one client wants to fly me to Germany to photograph a golden retriever. And a cool pet company in South Africa wants to fly me out there to do a commercial marketing campaign. I would do a shoot, including photography and videography, then go on a safari -- and it would all be on them.

There are requests from people who want to buy prints of my work in regular sizes. And there are requests from people who want to buy prints twelve feet across and twelve feet high. They want to hang these in giant living rooms and offices.

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You were just a mild-mannered pet photographer, minding your own business. Did this overnight fame take you by surprise?

Absolutely. This was an absolute, total surprise. I never had this as a goal. I never would have guessed in a million years that this could even happen. I hadn't been doing anything all that different with my photography before this -- just trying to work hard and improve and have a great time meeting pets and their people. But then one of those pictures happened to be posted in the right place at the right time, and someone saw it and liked it and other people got curious, and it was one of those things. It's a phenomenon.

How did you become a pet photographer in the first place?

I had another career before this, and it had nothing to do with animals. I was a design guy, working on movie posters, trailers, and advertisements for big studios including Sony and Walt Disney.

I came up with ideas for marketing The Da Vinci Code, the 007 movies, and the Spider-Man movies -- creative campaigns to market these movies in 75 different territories around the world. The international element was really cool. But at one point it occurred to me that my passion was animals, not movies.

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Seth prepares for a shot.

And what was that point?

I was working at Sony when some of my co-workers found four homeless kittens living on the lot. I offered to take some photographs of the kittens because I thought this might help them find homes. We went into an executive's office -- where we were definitely not supposed to be -- and I photographed the kittens playing on the sofas.

Well, all those kittens found homes -- and I thought: Maybe I can keep doing this. That was four and a half years ago. I started volunteering at the West Los Angeles Animal Shelter, taking pictures of the dogs and cats there in order to help them find homes. 

The marketing of homeless pets actually plays an important role in saving them.

One day at the shelter, I met someone who said, "Can I hire you to photograph my dog?" I thought: You mean, for pay? Well ... okay. One of the pictures from that shoot ended up on a magazine and started getting attention.

I've always loved animals. I grew up with a miniature dachshund named Duchess who lived to be seventeen. I've always loved animals, but it didn't occur to me until that moment that I could make a career out of this. It hasn't always been easy. You have to hustle. And the economy hasn't helped.

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How did you get the idea to take pictures of dogs underwater?

It seems to me that water gives dogs the opportunity to explore their wild instincts. That's why it's so exciting for them and so much fun for them to be under the water, even if they've never been near the water before. This shines through in the photographs. You can see in the pictures that these very expressive moments are happening to the dogs underwater: moments which can be very silly or very focused or even very terrifying. I think that's what the deal is with the water.

Many of these dogs I photographed underwater had never been underwater before. I was presenting them with an opportunity to embrace their instincts. Their owners were suprised when I asked, and I think the pets were surprised when they got into the water -- but surprised in a really good way.

And now you are the one being photographed, right?

Yes. A couple days ago I was picked up and taken to CNN headquarters in Hollywood and was on CNN's World Report. They did my hair and makeup. Anna Coren interviewed me from Hong Kong. It was wild. This has all been a little intimidating, but it has also been a really positive experience.

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And just this morning I found out that the "Dog Whisperer," Cesar Millan, posted some really nice comments about me on his website. We've met before -- and now on his website he describes me as his friend and calls me "amazing." It's really flattering. How cool is that?

Pretty cool. But what if your sudden success is actually some kind of cosmic reward? As in: This talented young guy helped some poor homeless kitties find homes -- so let's give him a break!

I don't know about that, but I have continued my volunteer work. I founded a nonprofit called Second Chance: Saving Pets Through Photography. It helps people learn how to take pictures of shelter pets and how to get these pictures seen so that the pets can find homes. A picture can save a life.

[At this point, Casteel briefly interrupted our interview in order to ask his Labradoodle, Nala -- whom he adopted from a shelter -- to stop barking.]

I teach as many workshops as I can -- all free and open to the public -- at animal shelters. I don't take a salary for this. I don't take a dime. All the money goes directly toward workshops and toward buying equipment that can be used to photograph shelter animals. I obviously want to help animals here in the US and Canada, but I want to bring awareness about this issue to other countries as well. You can't expect a culture to change its views on animals in a matter of, say, a year. But little by little, you can try.

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Seth says one of the dogs inspired this shot!

Meanwhile, you're running a business as well. Has overnight fame doubled your prices?

No. I am increasing my prices, but by just a shade. I'm also offering new packages. A one-hour shoot used to start at $375. Now it will start at $450. I'm also now offering an underwater shoot for around $1,000.

The other new package -- I just came up with this title -- will be called the Ultimate Pet Photography Experience. It will be available to anybody around the world. For something in the ballpark of $7,000 plus travel expenses, I will fly to wherever you are, spend two full days with you and your pets, and document their personalities through photography. I think it's going to be fantastic. Sure, you can do a shoot in one hour. But with two full days, I would get a chance to really know the pets, to live their lives in their own time. It's very expensive, but it's also a lot of work.

Which of the underwater dog pictures is your favorite?

My favorite is a picture of Buster, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel -- because he's the one who got it all started.

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I was hired to photograph him, and we started the shoot on land. But when he kept jumping into the pool -- swimming, diving -- I wondered: What does he look like under there? It was the first underwater work I've ever done in my life, and I did it with a little point-and-shoot camera. We played around with a little tennis ball -- and that was it. I have to give credit where credit is due.

I'm sure Duchess would be proud of you. What's next?

Only time will tell. This kind of attention I never knew before. It's just bizarre. Whatever happens, I'm really trying to leverage the importance of helping animals and bringing awareness about animals anywhere, to anyone, however I can.

Photo credits: Seth Casteel, Little Friends Photography

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Fri, 16 Mar 2012 07:59:00 -0700 /lifestyle/underwater-dog-photos-seth-casteel