Specific vision, tight deadlines, pulling off the near-impossible - three things I enjoy in any commercial job.
Echo dog broth approached us to create two images: a smiling, bright-eyed headshot that screams ‘vitality’ and a supporting image of a dog having just finished a drink, licking its nose, with liquid dripping off his chin like it ‘just can’t get enough.’ Sounds doable :P
For a shoot like this, the dog breed is important as only some dogs consistently drip from their mouth - dogs that get their beard wet when they drink. My friends have a dog like this and you always leave their home with wet socks.
Then reality hit. The art director wanted a Corgie with its great smile and pointy ears. The only problem is they tend to be clean drinkers. As the client calls the shots, we now had to come up with a plan.
At the photo session we observed our pooch and, true to the breed, he wasn’t a dripper.
Ok, how are we going to get those drips? Try stopping him mid-drink by calling his name - nope. Pour broth in his mouth (which he loved) and hope it drips out - nope, it just looks like drool.
Once accidental pee later, we still hadn’t got it perfect. Angus then came up with a plan to palm the broth onto the underside of his chin. Brilliant, we got the perfect drips.
Now, stitch together the drip, tongue lick, and perfect stance into one photo and we got our final mouth-watering, thirst-quenching image.
Stuart Little (@stuartlittlecorgi) had a blast, and after a few more pee breaks, we sent him home with a box full of broth to enjoy.
If you want to give your dog a special treat or entice them to eat if they aren’t feeling well, pick up some Echo Love Bone Broth from your favourite shop.
It felt magical when a few of my favourite things all collided into one assignment: the strict parameters of creating a packaging image, highlighting rescue animals, and raising money for a good cause. Well, the Royale Pet Rescue packaging photo shoot did just that. Between Toronto and Montreal, we photographed a handful of rescue cats and dogs to be featured on Royale’s full range of tissue products.
Working with trained animals is easy-peasy for me. Working with well-adjusted pets has its enjoyable challenges. Working with rescue animals who, because of their history, might be extra shy, requires us to pull out all the stops.
The pets were all chosen because of their heartwarming adoption stories, not at all based on making our job easier. The descriptions went a little like…
“This dog doesn’t like men”…. Great.
“The other dog is scared of cameras”… Fantastic.
“This cat hides whenever guests come over”… Wonderful.
As a professional animal photographer, I will always advise the client if we are working with non-trained animals, we never can guarantee results, but I sure as hell will pull out all the stops. Thankfully, all the animals were very sweet and came out of their shells in no time… except that super shy cat.
We had advanced warning from the previous days’ video shoot crew that the dayd didn’t exactly go according to plan - the cat hardly ever came out from under the bed. And when it did, it made a B-line to behind the couch. LOL. For cats, I generally prefer to work in their owners’ homes. So we set up a little studio at their place.
Minimized disruptions, low noise, lots of time to get comfortable. Still shy. Ok, move onto toys, strings, lasers, crumply balls. Nothing. The owner trying to play with the cat, cat treats, more cat treats, human treats. No, no, nope. Extra extra warm-up time, cream cheese, canned tuna, catnip. Zilch. Ok, it once or twice went for a toy, but wouldn’t turn around to face the camera. Ugh. I did manage to get a couple of shots, but after 2 hours, figured we better change route. There was ‘Sibling cat’ waiting in the wings.
‘Sibling Cat’ was the actual first choice. In the application process, the owners described him as boisterous, playful, friendly to a fault. For reasons beyond my pay grade, Sibling Cat became the second choice to ‘Shy Cat’ a week before the shoot. Regardless, even though ‘Sibling Cat’ was a ‘just in cause’ backup, we let him have the spotlight. Honestly, I think he was a runway model in a previous life. Ten minutes later, we had all the photos we needed. ‘Sibling Cat’ was a sinch to work with and gracefully is featured on the Royale tissues.
I’m thrilled to have helped with this amazing fundraising campaign. Now, go buy yourself some Royale and raise money for a good cause.
The classic cop story: a devious crime, a detailed investigation, an exciting high-speed chase, an intense interrogation, a news conference with flashing popping as the police show off their impressive bust…except this one involves more drool, flying fur, and a gruesome pile of bones… dog bones that is.
The Waterloo Region Police approached me with a very unique task - to create a kickass K9 Calendar to raise serious funds for Special Olympics Ontario. I needed to keep the guns to a minimum and limit the donut jokes, but apart from that, I was free to do as I liked with the project.
It’s rare to be given create carte-blanche on an assignment, so I put my thinking cap on. I could keep things simple - a dozen ‘hero dog’ photos at locations around the Waterloo region, shot from below to make our K9s look mighty? Naa - too easy! How about highlighting the dogs’ unique talents of tracking down missing people and suspects? Hmm…getting warmer. Maybe I can get my dog into the photos somehow?? True to character, maybe she can be a criminal?? Got it! Photograph iconic police movie scenes as a 12 image story where the dogs are the cops and incorporate as many humorous doggy and police stereotypes as possible. Now THIS was a cool idea!
The images I wanted to create were really specific and I had to be sure that I wasn’t taking up too much time of the in-demand police pups, so I needed to plan these photos out in a big way. My drawing skills don’t compare to my photoshop skills, so with the inspiration of Brooklyn 99 reruns, I morphed hundreds of objects into each month’s mockup, paying special attention to perspective, storytelling, and where each subject would be placed. As I specialize in photographing animals, I wanted to incorporate little jokes that dog owners would get - a police chase through an agility course, chewed up pencils, barking at a squirrel up a tree, hiding bones in a big hole.
With the Chief’s rubber stamp, we were off to the races. Location scouting, prop sourcing, and dog trick training - I needed those guilty criminal dog eyes on cue!
The commanding inspector, inquisitive detective, goofy desk officer, good cop, bad cop and a pointed hot pursuit, the K9 unit dogs and their handlers were great sports and models, pulling off dynamic expressions like pros. From a pet store crime scene to patrolling Waterloo Region in a vintage cruiser, this calendar tells the story of Ranger, Grim, Chase, and Tracker, as they work to solve a case of stolen dog bones - with a little help from their two-legged handlers. Check out the photos below and please purchase your copy here (https://www.wrps.on.ca/canine) to help support the Special Olympics.
🗓 February🗓 - 🎶 Oh no! Let’s get out and catch her. It’s another case of the Bone Snatcher! 🎶
🗓 March 🗓 - 🎶 Caught on tape! Have a look at this, Chief. Zoom in close, we spotted the thief. 🎶
🗓 April 🗓 - 🎵Gather round the briefing room. Listen up, the snacks can wait! Dog fur, paw prints. Thinking caps, don’t salivate. 🎶
🗓 May 🗓 - 🎶 We have a lead! Let’s get dressed. Make this quick, no time for rest! 🎵
🗓 June 🗓 - 🎶 Now, lookie here. Don’t let her dash! If it isn’t the Bone Bandit Burying her stash. 🎶
🗓 July 🗓 - 🎶 Chopper spotted, the chase is on. Hot pursuit before she’s gone! 🎶
🗓 August 🗓 - 🎶 Stay! Stay! Check her scruff. Paws on the tree, get out the ‘cuff! 🎵
🗓 September 🗓 - 🎶 Sirens blazing, full steam ahead. Quit that barking, try not to shed! 🎵
🗓 October 🗓 - 🎶 Good cop, bad cop, harsh interrogation! Guilty Bone Bandit questioned at the station. 🎵
🗓 November 🗓 - 🎶 Captain here with an update. Detective Tucker, don’t salivate! 🎵
🗓 December 🗓 - 🎶 The case is solved, Police K9 Award. Bone Bandit Busted, Justice Restored! 🎵
Please purchase your copy here (https://www.wrps.on.ca/canine) to help support the Special Olympics.
Thanks to everyone involved for helping me pull off this incredible awesome project.
And now some mock-ups!