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 …
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.
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.