Mars Holiday Treats

Last fall I was approached by one of the biggest players in the pet food industry about a holiday season photography campaign they were working on.  Mars Petcare was planning a series of social media advertisements to promote their Pedigree, Misfits, and Cesar dog brands, as well as their Temptations cat brand.  I’d created the photography for their new Canadian MisFits packaging so they were familiar with my work.

The theme of the campaign was that your pets would treat you during the holidays if they could, so you should treat your pets.  We came up with a series of scenarios where dogs and cats had tried to help out with traditional holiday tasks, but ultimately ended up causing a bit of trouble.  Mars Petcare loved our ideas so the job was a go.

The project was already going to be difficult, but to make things even more complicated the client decided they wanted short video clips to accompany the photos.  We’d need to setup additional lighting gear and would need to shoot each animal twice.  This was going to be a very hard project, but I couldn’t wait to get started.

I needed our pets to interact with holiday scenes in order to capture the photos I was aiming for.  We worked with the talented stylist Jason Hatton of P1M to style each scenario.  We decided that our dogs and cats would be wrapping gifts, hanging lights, baking cookies, decorating the christmas tree, and posting holiday cards.  Jason did an incredible job of making the scenes come to life.  I worked with my trusty animal trainer Angus to source and handle the animals on set.  We worked out of Toronto’s gorgeous Neighbourhood studio.

At the end of a very long day, my team succeeded in creating cute and hilarious photos that would work perfectly for the campaign.  My client was thrilled with the images and videos, which they leveraged to generate lots of social media attention as part of their important holiday season marketing efforts.

Pets Plus Us

Last spring I was approached by Pets Plus Us, a new Oakville-based pet insurance company, looking to create imagery for their brand.  The company’s mission is to be a champion of pet owner happiness by providing peace of mind to clients who purchase insurance for their cats and dogs as well as acting as a community resource for all pet owners.  Pets Plus Us wanted their brand imagery to capture the happiness found in pet owners and tasked me to the create this for them.

For most commercial photography campaigns I make use of professional models – both human and animal – who are used to being photographed and know how to pose for the camera.  In this instance though Pets Plus Us wanted to make use of their own staff members, their staff members’ families, and their very own pets.  They thought this would be a great way to capture the true bond between pets and their owners.  The Pets Plus Us team is comprised of a dedicated group of animal lovers who were eager to take part.  I loved the idea and was excited to get started on the project.

I knew going into the shoot that it wasn’t going to be easy to get our amateur human models to look comfortable in front of the camera and to simultaneously get their animals into position, but I was confident in my ability to pull it off.  With lots of treats and toys Angus, my resident animal handler, was able to work his magic with the dogs and cats while I coaxed the humans into natural poses and captured photos that highlighted the special bond between them.

Throughout a very long weekend of shooting at my Toronto studio, I met lots of great dogs and cats along with the friendly Pets Plus Us team.  I successfully created a wide variety of photos that encompassed the company’s vision for its brand.  The company has used the photos in print advertisements, on their website, and in social media, to build their client base and work towards their mission of being a true champion of pet owner happiness.  Be sure to check out their website, which has lots of great resources for all pet owners across Canada.

Better Together Purina

For most photographers a photoshoot centred around animals would be considered a serious headache.  Dogs and cats are notoriously difficult to work with, particularly if they aren’t professional working animals.  Add an amature human model to the mix and there is bound to be trouble!  I was approached about just such a project by Nestle Purina.

One of Purina’s core principles is that pets and people are better together.  Anyone who has ever had a pet can attest to the fact that bringing a dog, cat, or other animal into your life can change you in a profound way.  For someone without pets it can be hard to understand how special these relationships truly are.  Purina of course gets it: Not only are they a leader in the pet food industry, but their employees are animal lovers themselves.  Purina wanted to highlight this in a series of photos that they’d be using for online marketing.

In order to capture the essence of these special relationships we setup a mobile studio at Purina’s Canadian head office in Mississauga Ontario during their Take Your Dog to Work day event. Most Purina employees can actually take their dogs to work any day of the year, which is a great perk for their animal loving team, but they make a special day out of it once a year for everyone to take part.  Throughout the day I met dozens of loving dog owners and their wonderful canine companions.  My animal trainer Angus worked with each dog to get them comfortable while I photographed the interactions they had with their owners.  The special bond shared between them is obvious in the photos that I captured.

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