Tag Archives: Michael Bagley Photography

dog rescue

Dog Rescue Photography – Cagney and Lacey

It thrills me to be able to use my photographic skills to help dog rescues.  This morning I was introduced to Cagney and Lacey.  Lacey is believed to be the mom of Cagney, who is just six or seven months old.  These two sweet girls were found wandering the tracks of the Long Island Railroad and were taken in by a Connecticut dog rescue group.  Now they are safe and warm thanks to the generous folks at Davis Animal Hospital.  But they need their forever homes.  Both of these girls are beautiful, fun, sweet, gentle dogs who will make great pets.  Ideally they are adopted together, but separating them is an option as well.  For more information or to make arrangements to meet Cagney and Lacey send an email to silver2001@aol.com.  And please share them with everyone you know!


horse show photogaphy

Horse Show Photography at Forest Edge Farm

I love doing horse show photography.  Partly because, like any sports photography subject, it can be challenging to nail the timing and the lighting and the angles to make a good image.  But mostly because I have so much admiration for the athletes, human and horse, who deliver incredible performances together.  On Sunday I had the opportunity to photograph riders at the Fall Show at Forest Edge Farm in Little Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey.  It was a beautiful fall day, which made for some great light and backgrounds.  And the riders and horses worked hard and performed well.

horse show photogaphyOne of the highlights of the event – of all horse show photography – for me was watching the perseverance and grit of the riders.  On example that stayed with me was a young woman who took a head-over-heels tumble off of her horse when the horse stopped at a fence.  The crash was dramatic, and there was a collective gasp from the audience as we watched.  The young rider stood up, collected herself, gave her horse a few minutes to relax, and then jumped back in the saddle and rode the last three fences of her round perfectly!  I was so impressed with her fortitude.

I left with a memory card full of photos, a few of which are below.  Click on a thumbnail to see a larger gallery.

*Looking for the full gallery of over 200 images?  Click here!*


Cat Rescue Photography at PAWS

After doing my first dog rescue photo shoot in a while yesterday, today the trend continued as I did a cat rescue photography session at PAWS (Pet Animal Welfare Society) in Norwalk, Connecticut.  PAWS is a terrific private no-kill shelter that houses around 20 dogs and over 100 cats, most of whom are available for adoption.  Today I spent time in one of the cat rooms and met 25 “models” who were kind enough to mug for the camera.  For more information about any of these cats – or about Hansel and Gretel, the cute brother and sister kitten team – visit www.pawsct.org or call 203-750-0572.

horse photography

Horse Photography in Moody Middleburg

I spent the weekend doing some horse photography in Middleburg, Virginia.   My wife was riding in the Middleburg Classic Horse Show and I made the trip down to watch her compete.  It was a beautiful weekend for a horse show, and also for making pictures.  Both mornings a thick fog covered the rolling hills of northern Virginia and created a moody, sometimes surreal feel to the place.  By mid-morning the sun cooked off the mist and the autumn light was ideal for show horse photography.  I couldn’t have ordered better light!  Click on one of the thumbnails below to see some of the results.

people portraits

People Portraits – Henry

My goal in creating people portraits is to capture the personality of my subject.  Henry’s wonderful smile is exceeded only by his beautiful spirit.  Most of these pictures were taken before he realized I was there, and it’s easy to see what a nice child he is.  Once he noticed the camera he really began to “work it”.  These are some of my favorite portraits I’ve ever made.  Thanks Henry!

Click on a portrait below to see a larger image.  To see more of my portraits visit my People Portraits page.

photo education

Great Photo Education Resources

I am asked a lot how I learned photography.  “Did you go to school for this?” is a common question from clients who enjoy my work.  I didn’t study photography in college.  And though sometimes I wish I had, there are so many photo education resources available now that one can hone their skills without attending a college or university.  My training was “up through the hawse pipe” – experiences in the field with people and programs that provided opportunities for me to get better.  I’ll share some of my mentors in a future post, but listed below are some of the photo education programs that can help you become a better photographer.

New York Institute of PhotographyAs long as I can remember I dabbled with taking pictures.  In the late 1990’s I realized that I really loved photography, and I wanted to learn more about it and be better at it.  I enrolled in the Complete Course in Professional Photography at the New York Institute of Photography (NYIP).  The home-study program is designed for anyone who wants to improve their photography skills, but is oriented especially for those who want to earn some money with their skills.  The best aspect of the program for me were the assignments.  After completing important lessons students are given an assignment that requires employing the techniques articulated in that lesson.  You submit your photos to an instructor who provides clear, constructive feedback about what you did well and where you may have missed the target.  When I took the program the feedback was delivered via cassette tape in the mail (I suspect now it’s done online), and when I was expecting a response from my instructor I would run to the mailbox everyday in anticipation.  I valued the personal, specific insights because each assignment made me better.  I still remember the foundational lessons I learned in the NYIP course and use the skills I developed in every photograph I make.  I highly recommend NYIP.  They are accredited by the N.Y. State Department of Education and their faculty have some legit credentials.  You can check them out at www.nyip.edu.

photo educationMaine Media Workshops –  In 2007 I had the great pleasure of attending a Marine Photography Workshop through Maine Media Workshops.  I had been working as a commercial boat captain for a decade and most of my photography at the time was on the water.  The workshop was held in Newport, Rhode Island and led by Allison Langley, one of the premiere marine photographers in the world (www.langleyphoto.com).  Each day we had the opportunity to make photographs around town and on the water, and the following morning Allison would critique our best images in front of the class.  Though harrowing, the feedback gave me pointers that I could incorporate into my work that afternoon and, cumulatively, made me a better shooter.  One of the most significant benefits to the week came at the end when Allison encouraged me to do more with my photography.  The strong encouragement from such an accomplished professional inspired me to dive in deeper and become a part-time pro.  Maine Media Workshops offer programs in a wide variety of subjects, ranging from still photography to film making to post-production.  Their main campus is, obviously, in Maine, but they also conduct travel programs in beautiful locations all over the world.  Learn more at www.mainemedia.edu.

140419-274Kelby One I would argue that the internet has done more for photography and photographers than just about any other art or industry.  And I offer Kelby One as evidence to support my argument.  Kelby One is a repository of video training lessons created by some of the most renowned photographers and visual artists in the world.  Pros like Joe McNally, Joel Grimes, and Tamara Lackey and many others offer in-depth workshops on how they make the beautiful images for which they are known.  Want to create better portraits?  Watch Joe McNally’s two-hour program on using flash.  Looking to improve your Photoshop skills?  Watch Matt Kloskowski share his wizardry.  No matter your interest there is at least one title, and often several, that will deliver the goods.  Kelby One is a subscription service and costs $25/month or $250/year.  I can not recommend Kelby One highly enough, as it has been the single biggest boom for my abilities in all areas.  Join now at www.kelbyone.com.

These are just three of the influences on my path.  The good news is that there are countless photo education resources available.  Many community colleges have outstanding photography programs taught by accomplished photographers.  There are skill-specific workshops conducted throughout the country and all over the world that make for a terrific vacation week.  And yes, the internet is filled with articles and how-to videos from amateurs and pros alike.  Look around and take advantage of the opportunities.  Of course, the best way to improve your skills as a photographer is to take pictures.  So don’t forget to do that as much as you can.

caregiver canines

Caregiver Canines Project Becomes Traveling Exhibit

I learned recently that the collection of portraits I made for Caregiver Canines will be touring the Ocean County Library System in 2014 and 2015.  I’m thrilled!

Caregiver Canines is an amazing organization doing beautiful work.  Based in Toms River, New Jersey, Caregiver Canines matches volunteer therapy dogs and their humans with older adults for regular visits.  Most of the senior citizens, referred to as “receivers”, are living in their own homes but are no longer able to own a pet.  So the Caregiver visits provide the receivers with the opportunity to experience the joy that only a dog can provide.  The relationship is ongoing, with the same dog visiting the receiver every visit.

caregiver caninesBetween August 2013 and May 2014 I had the privilege of creating portraits of the receivers and their Caregiver Canines dog.  I visited the homes of the receivers, set up my portable studio, and tried to make an image that would portray the connection between the canine and the human.  When I began I expected that I would see a bond between the two, but I could not have anticipated how meaningful the relationships are to the receivers.  Often when I was setting up the dog would arrive at the home and all conversation with the senior would stop so they could devote their time and attention to their canine friend.  As I would get to know the receiver they would often tell me stories about pets they had in their younger years, and I could see how happy those memories were for them.  It was clear that the Caregiver Canines visits were one of the highlights of each week for the older adults.

The portrait project was completed in May, and on May 14 we had an exhibit at The Regency Memory Care Club in Toms River.  We printed and framed large prints and invited our human and furry “models” to come and see their pictures.  Supporters of Caregiver Canines attended, as did several local politicians and community partners.  I was gratified to hear all of the kind comments about the work, and especially when people would tell me that they could see the emotion in the photographs.  It was a beautiful evening.  The event was covered in a front page article in The Brick Times.

And now the exhibit lives on at six branches of the Ocean County Library.

Caregiver Canines 2014 – 2015 Photo Exhibit Schedule

October 2014: Lakewood Branch
November 2014: Jackson Branch
January, 2015: Lacey Branch
March 2015: Point Beach Branch
September 2015: Upper Shores (Lavallette) Branch
November 2015: Manchester Branch

Several of the branches will be hosting an opening reception when the exhibit arrives there, and I hope you will join us there (I’ll post dates and times on Facebook.)

For more information about Caregiver Canines, including how you can get your dog certified as a therapy dog and volunteer to do this great work, visit www.caregivercanines.org or call 732-505-2273.  Many thanks to Lynette Whiteman and Danielle Maley for making the project happen, and to all of the volunteers for participating in the project.  You bring joy and happiness into the homes of your receivers every time you walk in the door.

(Click on a thumbnail image below to enlarge the gallery.)

Twin Rivers Animal Hospital Commercial Shoot

Twin Rivers Animal Hospital

Doctor Shapley

In May I was hired by Twin Rivers Animal Hospital in East Windsor, New Jersey to photograph their veterinarians and staff.  The hospital had a number of new faces on their team, and they wanted to use the images we shot to re-introduce themselves into the community.

I worked with the hospital manager to set up the session, and one of the messages she indicated was important to portray through the photos was that the staff loved animals.  Seems obvious, right?  But as I look at many animal hospital websites they do a good job of showing how professional their people are, often at the cost of causing them to appear to be distant and aloof.  Twin Rivers wanted the images to show both the skilled medical professional AND the person who loves animals.  That made the shoot more fun for me, as each of the docs, techs and staff brought (or borrowed!) a dog or cat to be in their photo with them.  There was a Golden Retriever, a Bulldog, and even Bogey, the Sharpei.

The images are placed throughout the Twin Rivers website, and they are used in their printed materials and posted throughout the hospital.  Patients and their humans can get to know the team a little better when they see a smiling face next to an impressive resume.  The team at Twin Rivers were happy with the results.  And if they’re happy, I’m happy!

Pet Photos Inspired by Pinterest – The Whipped Cream Series

Like any other genre of photography, making pet photos can become routine.  Set up the lights.  Position the model.  Work to get the expression you want.  Hit the shutter release.  Oooh and aaah.  And done.  There’s nothing wrong with this formula, but I often have an itch to do something different and creative that stretches my brain a bit.

Recently I have discovered Pinterest.  While I was aware of the social medial site since its appearance on the scene, my impression was that it was only populated with recipes and home decor and wedding dresses.  I didn’t see a place for me on the site.  I have since learned that there is much more to it than that, and I have found a treasure trove of beautiful photographs.  For obvious reasons I have been drawn to great animal imagery, and most of my “Boards” reflect that interest.

Yesterday I was meandering around Pinterest and found some pet photos that included dogs and water.  They sparked an idea.  PJ loves to drink water from a bottle.  If I pour it into his bowl he will drink the stream of liquid as it falls before he puts his tongue in the bowl.  My idea was that I would use a water bottle to squirt water toward PJ, and I would light it to make the water stand out against a black backdrop.  I did the set up, took a few test shots, and when I was happy with the way things looked I summoned Himself.  But Himself wanted nothing to do with the water.  In fact, as it floated past his nose he turned his head and walked away.  DRAT!  Foiled again.

But wait!  I know a sure-fire way to keep PJ’s interest – Redi-Whip!  He goes crazy for a squirt of the stuff, and he would work all day for a taste.  So I ran upstairs, grabbed the can, and he followed me like I was the King of the World.  Yes!  This was going to work.

Because it was just the two of us it was a little tricky.  I had my camera on self-timer with a 10 second delay, which meant I would press the shutter release and then lure PJ into place and hope that my timing with the whipped cream and his positioning was what we needed for the shot.  It took a few tries, including several where he leaped out of the frame, but within short order we grabbed some fun shots.  As an added bonus, PJ was more than willing to clean up after the shoot!  How many models do that???

It was a good reminder to keep an eye out for inspirational pet photos and to use them to try new things.

Pet photos

Michael Bagley Photography Is HeARTs Speak’s Featured Artist

This week HeARTs Speak, the nonprofit I volunteer with that supports artists, animal welfare organizations, and communities using art to help homeless animals, chose to make Michael Bagley Photography their Featured Artist.  I’m excited!  You can check out the feature on the HeARTs Speak website by clicking here.

Michael Bagley Photography