• ... 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 scruffy 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 (NOTE: previous years of blog entries have been archived.)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 scruffy a beef tendon to gnaw on, and enjoy the photos and ramblin's.

say happy mother’s day to more than your mother

i ran across these breast-cancer-awareness feather boas yesterday and although i initially had one thing in mind — shooting my girl matea with the glorious bright pink props — i thought i’d take the opportunity here on the blog to remind all women to not only think of their mothers on this Mother’s Day, but also to think of their breasts.

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so this Mother’s Day hug your mother … and then hug your boobies too.

matea says so!

  

a true scruffy dog

meet Jasper …

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you won’t find a truer representation of “scruffy dog” than snaggle-tooth Jasper.  does he not fit the scruffy dog logo silhouette to a tee?

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to date, this is going to be my biggest blog entry as far as the number of photos i’m posting in one go.  i simply can’t narrow down my choices from this rather large gallery of images from this priceless dude.  so here goes … hope you enjoy them as much as i enjoyed this little man.

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it was a great day at the park … awesome weather and, in spite of a run-in with a mean dog the week before and some injuries, Jasper was a little firecracker.

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Jasper was purchased from a pet store in North Dakota years ago but is, in fact, a rescue … left at the pet store because his former owners no longer wanted him, he landed himself a sweet deal in his  musician dad Raymond who was looking for a companion to share his cross-country adventure.  and so began a long and deep friendship.

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i should probably explain the Cuz ball.  i bring Cuz balls to all my shoots because there aren’t too many dogs who can resist them.  little Jasper was rather shy when i first arrived, so i worked with him … sitting on the floor, encouraging him with treats and gradually building his trust without even bringing out the cameras (they don’t come out until we’re outdoors anyway, especially with the shy dogs).  but to really win Jasper over i decided to bring out his Cuz present early … and during our entire 3+ hour shoot — through the park, wading in the river, over the bridge, along the railroad tracks — wherever we went that ball had to be in his mouth.  i bet that even as i write this, that Cuz ball is somewhere close by to that little furball right now.  🙂

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even when he took a few minutes out, that Cuz ball was never far …

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and once inside, i was a big meanie and finally took the Cuz ball away … just for a few ball-less shots.

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no worries … i always leave the Cuz balls.  thanks Jasper and Raymond for a memorable afternoon.  i hope you enjoy your gallery of images.

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Liz - Seeing these pictures makes me cry. I remember when my dog is still alive, she looks exactly like jasper. For all those dog owners out there, love your dog because you will never have the chance again to show it to them once their gone.

http://www.dslrbagstore.com/

illona - yorkie-cross is the best guess.

Scott Joyce - what type of dog is this

sujawi - I think this is one of the most touching posts. 🙂 especially the picture of the musician & his dog.

andrea - what a joyful little dog!! fantastic shoot as always…your photos always leave an imprint on me. 🙂

karen - Love the one of Raymond giving belly rubs to Jasper. What a bond they have.

nick - A very productive session here 😀 Awesome work!

Susan - I love these pictures & how cute the owner & jasper are together.

Your pictures are inspirational. 🙂

xcheersx

Susan

Deb - Love this series.

Stacey - Love the photos! I have the same ball in red that sits in my camera bag! I was just starting to notice that a lot of my photos have a squeaky elephant in them too 😉

Liz - awesome. the scruffyness is irresistible!

there’s a new page on the scruffy dog site

i’ve been meaning to write this page for a long time now and finally — prompted by claire / rouxby’s comment on athena’s blog entry and in between the to-be-done piles strewn across my desk — i found some time to get around to it.  i thought i’d share it here first for those of you who might not notice it’s inclusion on the main site …

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Why scruffy dog?

So why scruffy dog photography?

Because scruffy dog is about DOGS … well, and horses and cats and other critters, too, of course.

We shoot dogs … not brides, not family picnics, not children … although we’re happy to shoot your kids with Rover.  We’re not about shooting couples or portraits, or babies or bellies, or even your restaurant’s latest menu, but we’re more than happy to sample it!

We’re about dogs.  We shoot dogs.  We know dogs.

Shooting dogs environmentally, in their natural element, using available light takes a certain skill set and experience.  Just like illona wouldn’t presume to shoot a wedding or a bar mitzvah, there are some photographers who – quite honestly – should never try to shoot a dog.  So, choose your photographer wisely.

If you are after someone to shoot your wedding or your child’s birthday party, illona will be happy to try to recommend someone for you.  But if your Rover needs his own session, you’ve probably come to the most experienced person.

Experience with dogs

illona has a lifetime of experience with animals.  Her first job was training horses, and she has lived with and trained dogs her entire life.  With incredible insight into their behavior, a vast knowledge base in regards to their body language, as well as many years feeding a self-managed and highly-researched natural diet to her crew of dogs and cats, Illona brings much more than shooting skill to the table when she arrives at your doorstep.

Bringing the best out of your dog

Not every photographer can shoot dogs.  It takes a special insight and handling ability – years of truly knowing canines – to bring a dog’s true character out, to enable them to relax with the camera equipment and to respond with a new person and situation … it takes experience and it takes truly knowing your subject inside and out, from a technical and a behavioral aspect.

Utilizing extreme patience and dog-savvy, illona has worked with fear-biters and shy dogs alike, and has not yet turned down a dog.

Get the most for your money

Unlike studio photographers who charge by the hour (often your fee covers only one 45-minute session), scruffy dog takes as much time as needed with your dog.  The average shoot is 2-3 hours, with difficult dogs taking even longer … so your session fee goes a long way.  illona will shoot anywhere from 350 to 600 or more frames at your shoot (even more with multi-dog session) to ensure a wide variety of choices for your final gallery.

High-quality products

illona never stops searching for the highest-quality products to offer her clients … from the finest gallery canvas wraps to deluxe coffee-table books … balancing affordability with longevity, durability and – always – archival quality.  Nothing but the best for scruffy dog clients and their precious memories.


BEFORE HIRING A PHOTOGRAPHER

With the advent of the digital SLR many people today call themselves ‘photographers’.  In fact, anyone sinking a couple thousand dollars into a prosumer DSLR fancies themself a ‘pro’ and, trust me, I’ve met my share of their disappointed clients.  Please do your homework before hiring a photographer.

Here is a MUST checklist when considering a photographer for your dog:

– does the photographer have a professional website or are they using a free, on-line photo-sharing service like Smug-Mug, flickr, Photobucket, Picasa, etc. to display their images?

– look closely at your prospective photographer’s online portfolio or gallery.  It should be extensive, not just a couple dozen photos.  Anyone can throw together a dozen great shots.  Is there a good variety of photos demonstrating a wide array of client dogs and shoots?

– is there consistency in quality, and a breadth in variety of environment, approach, angles? indoors and out? action and stills? … unless, of course, you’re specifically after only a few rigid, posed head shots of your dog.

– be sure your prospective photographer lists their print and product prices, and – if not – be sure to get a copy of these before you contract for a shoot.  You need to know upfront what you’re getting into with a professional, custom shoot.

– ask to see a recent client’s proofing gallery … is that gallery chock full of the same poses over and over again? or is there a variety of poses, environments, settings, light, situations? How many unique photos is the client truly getting to choose from? What is the quality like?

– don’t be fooled by super low rates!  A lot of those ‘pros’ with their prosumer cameras undercut the standard rates of professional photographers because (a) they’re not doing this for their livelihood (and therefore don’t necessarily have the experience), and (b) they’re probably not selling you professional-quality, lab-printed, archival products.  So beware.

Do your research.  This is your investment. Look over your prospective photographer’s website and portfolio extensively.  Choose wisely.  In almost every case, you get what you pay for.

DOGS DON’T BELONG IN THE STUDIO

… but it’s your choice.  scruffy dog is about capturing life-long memories of your dog.  And face it, the memories that you have of your dog from their every day: Rover in his bed, in his back yard, in his favorite spot on the deck, along his favorite trail, his favorite park, with his best buds … not in some artificial environment.  Don’t get me wrong, some dogs can do great in a studio and i think studio shots can be a wonderful addition to ‘home’ and environmental shots, but I firmly believe that those life memories should be the “real” ones.

THE COST OF CUSTOM PHOTOGRAPHY

For an interesting article on the cost of custom photography please read Marianne Drenthe’s article Why Does Custom Photography Cost More?

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as always, i welcome any feedback!  and thanks, Claire, for getting me going on this finally.

  

andrea - a great post, illona…thanks so much for sharing such valuable information. you and claire are my two MOST favorite dog photographers…your sites are daily visits for me. 🙂

karen - illona, your post is very informative, professional and honest, just like you. (oh and you’re fun too!) All the things RJ and I wanted in a photographer. AND I was so excited to have you mention Claire in your post. My two favorite dog photographers. What a great start to the day!

Sarah - this is really great info to educate Illona, i run into the same thing with my ‘real’ day job, that link you posted is really good, people have no idea what goes into a photo shoot or design in my case.

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