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a little wirehaired fun ~ {Toronto pet photographer}

i don’t typically have make the time to put together proper blog entries anymore.  running a busy photography business pretty-much single-handedly doesn’t leave a lot of time for the luxuries i once i had … so blog entries over the past couple of years have consisted of mashups of the images shared over on the scruffy dog facebook page, which — although entertaining in variety — don’t always tell much of a story.

but today i thought it was time to take the morning and go old-school.  2013 has proven to be an extremely challenging year … in more ways than i would ever dare to sit down and document.  after a particularly rough couple of weeks on the home-front, in between other wonderful client sessions and moments of sunshine and clarity, i had a session on the books with repeat client Katharine and her wonderful wire fox terrier Ryder.  you can see Ryder’s first session when he was a mere 6-month-old pup in his first blog entry.

like the majority of my clients, Katharine knows me.  she was aware of what i was dealing with on the home front, and was more than willing to postpone her boy’s session so that i could tend to family matters and take care of myself.  but i knew that an afternoon spent with a client like Katharine, her amazing mom, and her lovely wire boy was probably exactly what i needed … get away from the studio, away from home, out of my head, and be doing exactly what i’m supposed to be doing.

so, off i set to Toronto to see my boy.

as i drove, in the back of mind the sage words of my friend and colleague Jamie Pflughoeft of Cowbelly Pet Photography in Seattle rang loudly.  we’d spent four hours on the phone only a couple of nights earlier on other matters, and our discussion had encompassed many topics, the least of which was shooting, sessions, and always, “burn out”.  at one point — when i described my efficiency at sessions now that i’ve been doing this for so many years and averaging 100 clients a year — Jamie had asked me pointedly: “…but are you still having fun at sessions?”  i told her how friend and colleague Holly Montgomery of Brindleberry Pet Photography — whom i mentored last summer and who saw me first-hand work with our mock clients — described me as “a well-oiled machine.”   so when Jamie asked if i was still having fun at sessions the question made me pause.

well, yes, photographically speaking, i was having fun.  and yes, i have fun with my clients, engaging with them, sharing and laughing with them, learning about their relationship with their dogs.  and of course,  i certainly enjoy meeting their dogs!  but actually during our sessions, i’m all about efficiency, getting huge variety, getting the best shots, working the light, and setting up both the dog and the client for the greatest success in our session …

understand, my clients come first.  no matter how many years i work in this industry, delivering top-notch images and high-end products will always be my promise and #1 priority.  as such, there is a certain level of personal pressure that comes with this constant self-expectation and self-imposed standard to deliver the absolute, uncompromising best that i can at each and every session.

so, when Jamie described how — 10 years into her career — she will still put down the camera and play with the dog during her sessions, a clear and distinct vision immediately washed over me.  i saw myself setting down my camera in the grass and throwing the stick into the water for my client’s dog, without the overwhelming drive and obligation to capture every moment.

with all of that in mind, i warned Katharine that i’d like to come a little earlier for our session, to take our time at the different locations she had chosen … and especially knowing that she has the scruffy dog Best in Show 12″ album in mind, variety is key.

go figure it was one of the brightest days ever, so how lovely was it to just sit with Katharine and her amazing mother for a while in Katherine’s lovely rowhouse, catching up, sharing ankle surgery war-stories, and letting the shy Ryder reacquaint himself with me … although it took little more than the gift of a toy and a short game of tug to win his scruffy little heart again.

so, after some catching up and then a short drive to our first location, it was time to allow Ryder to let loose … or rather let Ryder loose, as the case may be.a little bit of posing ……but mostly, Ryder being Ryder.and “Ryder being Ryder” pretty much translates to full-steam-ahead …so much fun with this scruffnut …

and he even showed off some of his ballet moves.

then it was down to the beach.  although Katharine’s 75-year-old mom was still recovering from ankle surgery and couldn’t join us along every step of the session, having her at the driver’s seat and chauffeuring us from one location to the next was certainly a highlight.  what a rockstar!  i can only hope to possess even half her faculties, stamina and phenomenal energy when i’m her age!now, as for Ryder in the water … let me qualify … while this boy may look at home in the lake … a natural little water dog, he is not!  i think we need to get him together with Merrick to teach this boy how to swim……he will not go in past his tippy-toes.

but bury his favorite ball in the sand, he will surely find it.

so … thank you, Katharine … thank you, Katharine’s mom … and thank you, Ryder, for a seriously memorable afternoon and evening … for being so amazing … and for allowing me to remember what’s important.

of course, i realize that with my years of efficiency, of being that “well-oiled machine”, that taking twice the time to enjoy Katharine’s and her mother’s and Ryder’s company, also means a much larger gallery of her handsome boy for poor Katharine to sort through!

i hope you’ve enjoyed this actually very small sampling of Ryder’s images as much as i did shooting them.  happy Monday, all.

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  • Susan HumphreysI’m not on facebook, so can only catch up every now and then
    with your wonderful photographs. I Adore wire haired terriers, and
    these shots are superb! Looks like he’s smiling in a lot of them!
    Hope your goobers are okay, and that things improve for you on
    the home front. By the way, I’m not a photographer, but I hate
    what they’ve done to flickr, which is where I first found your
    shots of the magnificent Morley and Matea.

    Kind regards,

    Susan Humphreys
    Northampton
    England.ReplyCancel

  • Caroline Fitzpatrick PapageorgiouYour photos are amazing! I just started my business, website, and blog and I hope to inspire people as much as you do! ReplyCancel

  • The Barking LensFantastic photos! I love the “butt” shots 😉 Ryder looks like such a little energetic scruffy 😀ReplyCancel

  • Karen B. NicholsWhat great photos! You are such an amazing photographer and you capture the joy of being a dog. I hope you continue to use your gift for the joy of folks! ReplyCancel

  • Diane ClarkeThe story behind the photo shoot is just as incredible as the photos. FabulousReplyCancel

  • Cowbelly Pet PhotographySo glad you had FUN Illona! Doesn’t it make a difference when you just slow down, allow yourself to make mistakes, take your time, set your camera in the grass, and just play and enjoy? I think it sets the tone for not just the shoot, but the energy and attitude of the pet too. I can tell Ryder had a great time in these shots too, and that’s just awesome! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Judy Gadsby BellevilleJust beautiful pictures…I would never have thought that anyone could capture the dogs real essence I can feel this dogs energy and happiness…How lucky this dogs mommy is to have such beautiful pictures.ReplyCancel

  • shelley CastleSounds like a good friend and Ryder were able to feed your soul at just the right time. It also shows in this session. I so enjoyed seeing this…It totally oozes with your talent and love for your art. Hope all heals and gets better on the home front.ReplyCancel

  • Diane LewisThanks for this post! as always beautiful work! your words ring so true! I have been photographing dogs for over 15 years, I still love it and can’t imagine doing anything else, but yes the drive to do the very best and not miss a moment surely rings true for me too. Weather permitting ( not too hot here in NC) I often times bring my dogs to play before the session at the park we are going to do the session at, it’s time for me to re-set and be fresh before starting work, or if the clients dog(s) are friendly I let mine play/swim with their dogs after the session if the client agrees. It’s a way to unwind and spend time with great people and their dogs and allow my dogs some fun too. It breaks up the day, gives me and my dogs a little “me” time and when the dogs are able to play, it gives me a great chance to talk to my clients on a real personal level ( cause those that know me know how I love to talk especially about dogs).ReplyCancel

  • Angela FrayleWhat beautiful pictures. You certainly have a gift 🙂 Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Holly Garner-JacksonSo well done as usual, illona, and I m so glad that you took Jamie’s advice. I’m sure it made for an even more memorable session for all of you! You are all about quality and this adds not only quality to your sessions but also quality and joy to you and your job. I’ve always said that if you no longer enjoy your job, then it’s not doing you or the job any good. Breath in deeply and enjoy your scruffy sessions. They will give you renewed energy! 😉ReplyCancel

  • Melody HenkelWonderful! You always capture every aspect and nuance of a dog’s personality.ReplyCancel

  • Pat JarvisGreat pictures of a happy little dog.ReplyCancel

  • Mareena SweatThis boy is super cute. The variety of settings really showcase his scruffiness and your talent! – I always have a smile on MY face while looking through your shots. Keep up the fabulous work!ReplyCancel

  • Robyn ElizabethSometimes we need to take a minute to remember what matters most to us 🙂 Thanks for sharing Ryder’s day of fun! I hope it gave you some fresh perspective and breathing room from all the outside stress…ReplyCancel

  • Joni SolisWow, what a multi-talented dog!ReplyCancel

  • WendyWow. Just wow. The amount of variety is truly amazing. I love the one when he is digging in the cushions. And I love the water/beach ones. I hope things are getting better on the home front.ReplyCancel

  • Caroline CoykendallI love my wire haired fox Sophie so much. It’s so good to see other dogs from other cities besides Chico. What great photos…KudosReplyCancel

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