• ... 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 ... now THREE trusty sidekicks. For more details on illona and the mcscruffies and the newest mcruffles cat, 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 (NOTE: previous years of blog entries have been archived.)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.

Chewy ~ {Ontario photographer yellow lab beach photos}

after a stint of shoveling snow, i figured we might all benefit from a little flashback to the summer right about now … and what better way to do this than a trip to the beach?  this handsome lug is 12-year-old Chewy and he enjoys his life on the beaches of Long Point.

01_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-684-Edit

although Fine Focus sessions are shot here in Waterloo region so that we are able to shoot two sessions in one afternoon, it was pure coincidence that i had an inquiry from a client from Vancouver who was going to be in Ontario for a few weeks and wanted some beach photos of their two dogs!  so i headed down for a long but fabulous afternoon of beach shooting … and the beach has always been one of my favorite places to shoot!

02_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-23
03_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-8
04_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-78
05_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-161
06_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-137
07_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-240
08_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-189
09_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-222
10_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-186
Chewy’s session is a testament to “not waiting too long”.  far too often clients don’t book their session until their 4-legger has slowed down enough for them to really see and feel the changes … and in Ruth’s words, she wanted to “capture Chewy at his best.”    when it comes to seniors and photo sessions, sooner is always better than later.  if you are even flirting with the idea of a session for your older dog with a professional photographer, i urge you to do it now, not later.   we all know that dogs age far too quickly, and before you know it, capturing images like the following — of twelve-year-old Chewy diving into the waves for a stick — isn’t possible.
11_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-249
12_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-281
13_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-262
14_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-343
15_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-313
17_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-286
one of Chewy’s favorite pastimes is rolling.  let’s just say it’s a good thing Ruth admits that Chewy looks endearing when he’s covered in sand.  then again, when Ruth admits that Chewy’s worst habit is “rolling in dead stuff”, i guess sand is a pretty good alternative.

18_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-373
19_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-498
20_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-584
21_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-517
22_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-538
23_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-629

25_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-697

thanks for being such a gorgeous model, Chewy! i hope next summer is just as fun at the beach!

24_ontario_pet_photographer_chewey johnson-73


Lya Gresavage Ashley - With the cold of winter upon us. These photos warm the heart. Beautiful.

Ruth O'Leary - Those wet sandy dog photos made me smile :)

Holly Garner-Jackson - With the brutally cold days we’ve been having here in Maine, this is a warming respite. Chewy antics in the sand just fill one’s soul with warmth. Thanks, illona!

Karen Black - I”m so inspired by your work! Thank you!

Oklahoma huskies ~ {international dog photographer}

over the years, more and more scruffy dog clients choose to come here for their session in order to utilize some of the locations they see on the SDP website.  while this is not a huge deal for most of my Toronto, GTA and southwestern Ontario clients, i’m deeply flattered when clients travel from much farther afield, including across the border.

i’ve been thrilled to work with clients from Chicago, NYC and NY State, Florida, Kansas, and even California … and working with three huskies from Oklahoma in the dead of a Canadian winter was a session i’m not likely to forget.

01_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-392-Edit

typically with clients who are coming from a little closer to home, we are able to work around the weather-forecast — short-range and long-range.  in the case of Angela’s three girls, we had a very inflexible date due to her mother’s health back in Tulsa.  we were shooting, no matter what .. and that “matter what” included -18C temps, with windchills of -26C.  let’s just say, the huskies didn’t seem to mind one bit, but Angela, my assistant Shannon and i froze our a**es!  so while these three might look like they’re right at home at the height of our Arctic Vortex, you should know this was certainly not the case for everyone at the session!

this little monkey is Giselle.  she wasn’t more than four months old at her session.

02_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-33
a lot of people think that a white dog won’t photograph well in the snow … and i’m always glad to show them that white-on-white is beautiful!

03_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-412-Edit
and Giselle was right at home in the snow.

04_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-60
05_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-80
11_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-567
the next youngest sister in this pack is Asha at around 8 months during her session.  this girl was definitely built for the snow.

06_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-130
07_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-114
and then there’s Mila at one year of age.

08_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-201
09_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-187
10_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-162-Edit
if you think winter sessions are all white snow, think again!  i work hard to find locations rich with color and texture, even in the dead of winter …and these dried beech leaves are a beautiful backdrop for Asha and her sisters.

12_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-443
13_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-82
how gorgeous is this girl?

14_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-462
15_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-91
16_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-507
like i said, all three girls were right at home in the snow…

17_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-246-Edit
18_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-231
19_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-546-Edit
20_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-302
21_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-271
22_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-268
23_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-370-Edit
24_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-349-Edit-2
25_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-358
thanks for making the 17+ hour trek to share your three gorgeous girls with me, Angela.  i hope for the girls’ sake you get some snow this winter!

26_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-602
27_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-624
28_ontario_pet_photographer_alame huskies-586



Jen - What stunning dogs. We have a lot of Husky and other nordic breeds here in Telluride and I love them although not the breed for me! I love shooting in the snow, but I have to hand it to you for shooting in those temperatures, I want to know what gloves you used! I wouldn’t have lasted. I have had to reschedule two sessions due to cold and 20mph wind….blowing snow made it impossible. :(

Liz Caldwell - Beautiful work, Illona, but I would expect nothing less from you. I got an especially good laugh from the “rabbit in the snow” shot.

Holly Garner-Jackson - Wow! These shots are more than amazing. I can’t imagine working with 3 huskies this young all at once. It must have made for some crazy moments! And if someone wants some amazing images then it just pays to travel and go to the best of the best! Well done, illona!

Jennifer - beautiful images and pups!

Buster Vyas - :)

Charlotte Reeves - What could be better than Huskies in the snow! Ahhh! So awesome.

Ruth O'Leary - Amazinggggg! Love them all.

Tatianna Brooke Ripcik - Gorgeous photos! You’ve made me smile from ear to ear :) I bet they really enjoyed the snow!

Charlotte Reeves - I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am SO jealous of you being able to shoot in the snow like this! I know it was freezing cold and everything but wow, it would totally be worth it. And those dogs – so gorgeous! I’ve photographed a lot of Huskies but those ones are just divine, and they look so at home and natural in their element. Beautiful work, Illona!

Pattie - Wow. Just wow.

winter is wonderful ~ {Waterloo, Ontario pet photographer}

as a shiny new year opens up ahead of us, and i look at the scruffy schedule, we still have a couple of openings for winter sessions … and winter truly is a wonderful time to shoot.  sure, one must be patient with the weather — while freezing rain strikes the studio windows even as i write this — and flexibility with one’s schedule is often required to ensure that the weather is, indeed, cooperating with your session.  but winter definitely provides a stunning backdrop as i hope that these images from 2014 demonstrate!

the following is just a small selection from a few of our winter clients from last year …

this is Elroy.  his session was an Honor Session™ as he was struggling with a hemangiosarcoma.  this handsome boy was pure pleasure to work with…

01 elroy chase neubauer-168
02 elroy chase neubauer-394

Elroy’s red twin, Chase — his brother from another mother — was also a blast to work with … both of their red coats matching beautifully with the dried beech leaves in our forest.

03 elroy chase neubauer-436-Edit
04 elroy chase neubauer-294
sadly, this handsome man lost his battle shortly after our session … but like so many others before him, i will forever remember his great spirit.
05 elroy chase neubauer-478
06 elroy chase neubauer-319-Edit
i had a short session with these two scruffnuts, Cobi and Ivy …
cobi ivy chagnon-56
cobi ivy chagnon-146

cobi ivy chagnon-94
08 cobi shake
cobi ivy chagnon-28
cobi ivy chagnon-115
07 cobi ivy chagnon-65

and another short session with Jamie and her fun-loving brother Spud the pug …

09 jaimie spud bilinski-106
10 jaimie spud bilinski-53-Edit
true to her beagle spirit, Jamie could make some noise.

11 jaimie spud bilinski-186
…while Spud worked hard on his ‘adorable’ expression.

12 jaimie spud bilinski-240
then there was Molly, the insanely ball-crazy lab …

13 molly weisbrod-82
16 molly weisbrod-153
14 molly weisbrod-43-Edit
there’s nothing like photographing a yellow lab … i always say that photographing a yellow lab is like shooting fish in a barrel … not that i’d ever shoot fish in a barrel, but yellow labs are easily one of the top photogenic dogs ever.  the cameras love them, no matter what the season.

15 molly weisbrod-74
Rusty was another one of beautiful red hunks of the winter season ..

17 rusty yan-305
like a lot of scruffy dog clients, Rusty came to scruffy dog territory for his session, and he had a ton of fun in our woods.

18 rusty yan-58-Edit
19 rusty yan-103-Edit
20 rusty yan-205-Edit
21 rusty yan-69

i had the pleasure of working with the Chops labs during Whitney’s One-on-One mentoring session with me.  she and her husband brought along their traveling circus … er … beloved crew.

22 with whitney-28-Edit

23 with whitney-74

and this is Woody, enjoying another short session in the woods …

24 woody christensen-180
25 woody christensen-68
26 woody christensen-47
27 woody christensen-127
and then there’s this guy … Goober extraordinaire, doing his thing.

28 with whitney-215

if you are considering a winter session with scruffy dog don’t wait too long to inquire as there are only a couple of openings left for winter 2015!


Jen Metzger - I agree with you about shooting Labs. Same with Goldens. Easiest dogs to work with in any season! Great photos. Still wish I had to pick up my puppy from Canada so that we could have had a session with you, I never treat my own dogs like clients! lol I really want to fly you out here to photograph Blue now that he is 10…I would never want to fly him up there. Interested???

Holly Garner-Jackson - Another super blog entry.

S e a r c h
F a c e b o o k
S u b s c r i b e
M e r r i c k