I am fortunate to partner this year with Lucky’s Bed & Biscuit to offer holiday pet photos. The first session was last weekend, and the models were all fantastic! Here is a slideshow of some of my favorite shots.
On Saturday, November 10 I partnered with my friends at Endless Pawsibilities to present the “20 for 20 Pet Photo Day”. We offered a 20 minute photo session in exchange for a $20 donation or 20 pounds of dog or cat food, all of which would support the Volunteer Auxiliary for Animal Shelters, Inc. We were delighted that people signed up quickly, and within a day or so of announcing the event all of the 20 minute slots were full. We were even more pleased that when people came for their session they were extremely generous with their support. Many people made a cash donation AND brought food, blankets, crates and other items. In the end we delivered a nice donation and enough food and materials to fill two cars to the Volunteer Auxiliary. It was a very successful day!
Many thanks to Tori, Karen and the great team from Endless Pawsibilities. And a special thanks to the kind humans and their beautiful dogs for making the day a success.
Here are a few of my favorite shots from the day.
If you have visited my portfolio featuring Animals at Work you know I was fortunate enough to visit Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities (ECAD), a center in New York that trains service animals for a variety of clients. Among those clients are our veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. They are coming home from the battlefield with injuries both visible and invisible. When I planned my trip to the center I thought I would learn a lot about service dogs, and I did. I learned much more, though, about our returning servicemen and women and they battles they wage everyday.
Phil and Ace were two of the people I met at ECAD. Both are Army veterans. Both have horrific stories from the battlefield. Both will live forever with the scars, visible and invisible, from injuries that were suffered as they served their country. As I talked with Ace and Phil I learned about the struggles they face everyday. Phil lost his right leg in battle and has learned to walk with a prosthesis. Both suffer from PTSD. We hear that term tossed around a lot, but I didn’t understood how devastating the condition is until I met these soldiers. Phil and Ace fear being outside. They panic in crowds. Things that are normal events to most of us – shopping for groceries, using mass transit, walking down the street – are terrifying experiences for a person with PTSD. Ace and Phil and so many thousands of others volunteered to serve in our military to protect our country and all that we stand for. And so many of our veterans pay the price of that service each and every day.
And yet, if you meet Phil and Ace they won’t spend a lot of time telling you how hard they have it. They won’t bemoan their fate or express any self-pity. Instead, they will introduce you to their canine partners and tell you what amazing dogs they are. They will tell you how much more difficult things are for other people. They will share their pride in the work they are doing with fellow vets who are suffering from PTSD. They will impress the hell out of you.
Ace and Phil are heroes. And they represent countless servicewomen and men who have served before them and who follow in their footsteps who are equally heroic. Their heroism doesn’t end when whey leave the service. And so on this Veterans Day I pay tribute to Phil and Ace and their brothers and sisters who have served our country so honorably for so long. God bless you and God bless America.
It’s been a long two weeks. I hardly believe that it’s only been two weeks. And I’m one of the lucky ones. Aside from 10 days without power I came through the Superstorm Sandy unscathed. My heart and prayers go out to the many families who have been devastated by Sandy and who continue to suffer.
The Saturday before the storm the Friends of Southern Ocean County Animal Facility held their Furfest. We were pleasantly surprised by how many people took time away from their storm preparations to have some fun with their dogs. The costume parade was a trip – dozens of dogs dressed up as everything from a cave man to a thoroughbred horse to – my favorite – a Dachshund dressed as a hot dog. It was terrific. Inside I offered a quick photo session for a donation to the Friends group, and I am proud to have raised over $200 in just two hours. As always, I had some great models to work with. Here are a few of my favorites.
I’ve had a busy week in the studio creating photographs for a great new product called Harness Lead.
When I started volunteering at the Southern Ocean County Animal Facility (SOCAF) the first person I met was Lisa Flynn. Lisa was the Volunteer Coordinator and, in spite of having a full-time job, devoted three or four hours each day, seven days a week to walking and caring for the homeless dogs at SOCAF. The first time I saw her in action I knew right away that she had a deep love for the animals and the animals knew it. As she walked the line of cages the dogs would come to their doors and smile and whimper and bark for Lisa’s attention. It was like watching the Pope walk through a crowd! Lisa “got” the dogs and they “got” her.
In the summer of 2011 Lisa arrived at SOCAF early one morning full of excitement to show her new creation. She pulled a few of us together and explained the she had made a new leash that would be perfect for the shelter. It was one piece of line that formed a body harness around the dog’s chest. The lead gave the walker more control than a neck collar and leash and, most importantly to Lisa, it was more comfortable for the dogs. Her creation was perfect for the shelter because it was a one-size-fits-all solution. And best of all, the unique configuration of the lead put gentle pressure on the dog’s chest when he or she pulled and, thus, helped the animal pull less. We were excited and amazed. Lisa had turned a simple piece of rope into a great tool for the shelter.
Fast forward to summer of 2012 and Lisa’s piece of rope has become the Harness Lead, and her product is selling like wildfire. Everyone who tries it is amazed by how well it works, particularly with dogs who have a tendency to pull. Lisa is hearing from people all over the country that the Harness Lead is making dog walking a lot more enjoyable.
As the product is taking off so is the need to expand the marketing and sales pieces associated with it. Website, store tags, product instructions, etc. all need to be created or upgraded. Lisa hired me to help her do that, and our first step was to have a few dogs come into the studio to be “Spokesdogs” for Harness Lead. This week I had six models in front of the camera, each wearing a different color. We also photographed close-ups of the Harness Lead being rigged on a dog to illustrate the use on an instruction tag. The dogs were all very patient with me and did great on set, and their humans were fun to work with.
On Friday Louise Denecke and her boy Baloo (aka The Lanther) were kind enough to come by for a session. If you’re not familiar with The Lanther, you should be. His stunning good looks and sharp wit have helped him develop quite the following on social media. He has more Twitter followers than most humans I know! Louise rescued Baloo from Popcorn Park about a year ago after Baloo had been a resident for far too long, and Baloo has truly blossomed into an amazing boy. After we photographed the requisite poses for product tags and website use we got a little more creative. Louise and Baloo brought costumes and wigs and all sorts of options for fun photos. At the end of the day we took a ride down the street and set up my cool new Elinchrom Quadra light in a big softbox and created what could be my favorite photograph of this year. Louise donned a formal gown, long white gloves, and her grandmother’s wrap and we shot a formal portrait as the daylight faded. Many thanks to Louise and The Lanther for working so hard and being so creative and patient!
Last Saturday we set up shop at Petoberfest, a fund raising event to benefit the Volunteer Auxiliary for Animal Shelters, Inc. The Volunteer Auxiliary is a code name for the hard working group of volunteers who visit Northern Ocean County Animal Facility every day of the week, in sun, rain, sleet or snow, and walk the dogs, play with the cats, network the available animals on Petfinder, and travel around in their magic bus with adoptable pets. They do amazing work and make the difference between life and death for countless innocent animals every year.
Petoberfest was their first fall fund raiser, and Kate and I were happy to be a part of it. We set up our portable studio and photographed nearly 20 dogs. And a first for us – rabbits! We had a lot of fun and were proud to raise a couple of hundred dollars for the Volunteer Auxiliary. Here are some of our shots from the day.
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Last Sunday we had a great afternoon photographing the horses and humans at Hidden Creek Farm in Warren Grove. We were hired by Leslie and Reggie, who own Lucky’s Bed & Biscuit in Manahawkin, to photography Leslie’s horse Trigger and his five stable mates. Leslie and the other owners bathed and groomed the herd before Kate and I arrived, and I’ve never seen whiter nor felt softer horses in my life. They were stunning. As was the weather and the light and the scenery at Hidden Creek. We did head shots of all six horses and action shots of three. I could have stayed all night and all week! The horses were magnificent and the humans were welcoming. It was obvious they love their horses and that feeling is mutual! Here are a few of the many shots we took that afternoon.
Paco and Susie share a hard luck story. And though I don’t know all the details, the short version is sad enough: abuse, neglect, poor socialization, etc. Fortunately they were saved by the caring folks at Stray from the Heart Rescue who placed them in a great foster home. But they need a great forever home.
Two weeks ago Stray from the Heart contacted HeARTsSpeak, the nonprofit organization of which I am a member, seeking a photographer in north Jersey to help make images of Paco and Susie to facilitate their adoption. Part of HeARTsSpeak‘s mission is to be a resource for shelters and rescues to help them find photographers for their animals. After a series of emails and text messages and phone calls, the networking came together and I met Susie and Paco. I didn’t have much time for the shoot, and they didn’t have much interest in modeling, but all things considered we did pretty well together. Here are their shots.
If you are interested in learning more about Paco and Susie and helping them find their forever home please contact Stray from the Heart by clicking here.
Though a 2,000 square foot studio space with 15-foot ceilings, a large skylight, distressed brick walls and wood floors would be delightful, I do the best with the resources available. Case in point was Doggie Derby Day yesterday. The image at the top is the “studio”: a tent, some wet grass (freshly cut to make sure clippings stick to everything!), a black cloth backdrop, a strobe light with a softbox, and a camera. The portraits at the bottom were shot in this studio. Surprised?
When the Forked River Rotary Club planned their second annual Doggie Derby Day I doubt they imagined it would be 50 degrees and raining. But so it was. In spite of the gray skies and high humidity, a few hundred brave humans and canines forged ahead and participated in the event. I was there to make some portraits to help raise money for all the great work the Rotary does in our community. I had some great looking models come by and they were all excellent in front of the camera. You’d never now it was wet and gloomy out!