• ... home of Ontario's premier pet photographer. This is where the photos of scruffy dog photography meet the heart and soul behind all of those fun and wacky photo shoots and the long hours in the digital darkroom ... a behind-the scenes peek into the zany life of a pet-exclusive photographer and her two trusty sidekicks. For more details on illona and the mcscruffies, check out the "about" section.

    What you will find here is the past several years of blog entries -- selected client shoots, sneak peeks, facebook recaps, news and announcements, promos and specials, as well as info on canine health and general dog chat. (NOTE: previous years of blog entries have been archived.)

    So, grab a cup of jo, give your scruffnut a beef tendon to gnaw on, and enjoy the photos and ramblin's.

more calendar dogs

thought i’d share with you a few more of the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society calendar dogs with a small selection of shots from their mini-shoots …

this is Buster … not even a year old he’s still got that puppy goofiness, but was very well-mannered for the shoot …



can you say adorkable?  i loved this boy.



then there was beautiful Bella …


but i had my own name for her …



Bella was a sweetheart, with a wonderful spirit and energy.



and gorgeous Bear …


hairy beast and ball connoisseur …








and Meesha, whose recent diagnosis isn’t very good and had me forgetting about what i’d set out to shoot for the calendar.  all i could think about was shooting enough memories for her mom.






and last but not least, lovely Sophie … frisbee nut and bundle of border-collie focus …




one of my favorites …



i’ll share the cats next … stay tuned!

calendars should be available soon and proceeds help benefit the animals at the shelter.


Rog - Excellent series.

You’ve proven it is possible to go from a word smith to a photographer. (And let’s keep in mind that old saying that each photo worth a thousand words but I’ve long known that no writer will ever agree to that!)

Kathy Innocente - you have outdone yourself…this is truly a special thing you have done for the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society. Your generosity will not be forgotten, you have made my job as a fundraiser here at the Centre that much easier.

Holly Garner-Jackson - these are all very awesome, illona. The ones of Meeesha gave me goosebumps!!!!!!! Her mom should be thrilled and very grateful I’m sure.

karen - These are all fantastic! How are they (or you) ever going to choose for the calendar! You’ve been a busy girl!

Ruth - Wow, stunning photos, well done!!!

andrea - illona….these are fantastic!! loved seeing the larger images….we are lining up our print order!! thanks again for all of your wonderful work with these dogs. :)

Anda - Illona, these are amazing! Each and every one is worth printing and framing and admiring every single day!

colour woes

the curse of being a perfectionist is that you’re only very rarely completely and utterly satisfied with your work — read: “never”.  for those who know me, they know i’m rarely satisfied with a photo … i’ll always find something in it to work on, to make it better.

COLOUR is probably the most frustrating aspect in this perfectionist’s workflow.  i take colour very seriously … everything from a $2500 monitor touted to be the best of the best, to running my colour-calibration every two weeks using high-end soft- and hard-ware … checking in frequently with the labs by routinely running test prints … all to give my clients the very best of images.

and so, you can imagine the frustration when — after working long hours perfecting each image in regards to colour and white balance, hue and saturation — that it all goes to hell in a handbasket the second you upload to the Internet.  sure, colours vary from monitor to monitor … not all of us are calibrated, not all of us have the same monitors … but it’s when the colours are so utterly different from browser to browser that i just kinda wanna lose it.

here you see what i’m talking about … on the left is Mozilla Firefox and on the right Explorer.  i, myself, use Firefox, and still find that on some sites the colours of my images are way off … like the main scruffy dog site … very over-saturated.  but hello? Explorer? the entire blog is hyper-saturated and the hue has completely gone off the rails.


so what to do?  i consistently remind clients via the website and the literature i send them that colour varies from monitor to monitor; i encourage them to come to the studio for a consult where they can see the true colours on a calibrated monitor.  of course, with the love of their dog clouding their judgement, maybe they don’t even see it? maybe they don’t care?

still, i do!  i care a lot.  that turquoise sky and orange bulldog are not in my portfolio.  i’m not into hyper-saturated images with unrealistic colours … i work hard for the realistic tones and hues … so it’s very frustrating to see this depth of discrepancy, especially since the Internet — with its vast array of colour management — is the main representation and home of the scruffy dog work.

so … enough kvetching.  maybe black and white is the answer. :)


nick - I normally force photoshop to convert to srgb when exporting for web it seems to solve it rather than embedding the profile and hoping the browser knows how to handle it.

Liz - Oh I feel your pain!!! Sometimes facebook and flickr also mess up the colours when uploading. I think that IE should just be outlawed, banned really. haha. It is the WORST browser on many offences, not just over-saturating photos.

KW Humane Society mini-shoots

i’m behind … october is my busiest month of the year – always.  i’m sure other photographers feel the same pressure … clients desperate to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and the stunning fall colours, people planning for christmas … or maybe it’s just that the kids are back to school and Rover finally gets the attention he deserves.  i’m not sure what it is but fall finds me pulling 14 hours days seven days a week just trying to stay afloat … and this october found me with another major – but exciting – project on my plate …


… twelve mini-shoots for the winners of the KW Humane Society calendar contest.  never one to do things “simple”, i scouted ahead of time around Kitchener and Waterloo, determined to shoot each dog and cat in a unique setting and thereby offer variety month by month through the calendar.

in most cases i’d visualized in advance what i was after for the calendar shots before even meeting the dogs.  of course, i had the benefit of their contest photos and a couple of short emails back and forth with the owners to find out what the individual dogs and cats could and couldn’t handle. but again, the goal was variety.  first there was Ebony (above as well) … i knew her black would stand out well against the red caboose parked down at the Waterloo Visitor & Heritage Information Service …




then there was Jack … he seemed the best candidate for the landmark Seagrams architecture …




then one-year-old Wrigley down by the mill …






and little baby Triton … (and ignore the leash … it will be shopped out before the final image goes into the calendar)





that’s the first four … stay tuned for the next group!


sistamoonshine - I just found your blog via another person’s following list. I love your photos. They are stunning and sweet. I especially enjoyed the cat photos. You do wonderful work and have a talent. Keep it up.

Idil - Fantastic photos, Illona! I love the locations you chose and all the thought you put into these photo-shoots. You’re a wonderful person for dedicating your time to this project and you keep amazing me with your beautiful work.

karen - Great work so far! Can’t wait to see the rest. I like how they are in different parts of KW. Good scouting job.

Liz - Great shots once again Illona. Kudos to you for undertaking such an immense project especially at this time of year! I hear you about being busy – I forget what free time feels like…haha. But we love what we do!

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