Top Three Fears Dog Owners Share with Me
So often when dog owners reach out to me about getting professional photos of their dogs, I hear one of three things holding them back. They have a dog that won’t stand still, or their dog is really nervous and uncomfortable in new surroundings, or they have an extremely reactive dog that is easily set off by other dogs or people. And sometimes one dog qualifies for all three! These are the top three fears that dog owners share with me. These dog owners cannot imagine their dog ever cooperating to allow for any photos at all. I’m here to let you in on a little secret. A large percentage of the dogs I work with fall into one or more of the above categories. So often in fact, I’m always pleasantly surprised when I have an “easy” dog.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these issues:
“My Dog Isn’t an Obedience Champion!”
For many dog owners, their pets won’t just stay in place for a photo. They can’t put their pup in a spot, drop the leash and walk away, fully confident their dog will still be there when they turn around. Many owners can’t even get their dogs to perk up their ears, or stand still for a moment. Well it’s time to breath a sigh of relief, very few dogs will do any of these things without help!
Since all of my portrait sessions are outdoors in a natural, fun, and sometimes “wild” setting, it’s perfectly normal for dogs to have the urge to run off and explore their new surroundings. Safety is always top priority, and that means the leash is on almost all of the time. Have you noticed images where a dog looks to be standing alone, gazing off into the distance, as if to suggest the dog is part of the natural setting? Not a person, leash or collar to be found? Probably didn’t start out that way, just look at these images below. They show a fun before and after, just to give you an idea of how we set up for that final look.
“My Dog Gets Way Too Stressed!”
Is your dog really nervous in new settings or around other people? Often pet owners worry this will prevent them from ever getting that one beautiful photo of their four legged best friend. Luckily I am very familiar with this, and never pressure a dog to perform! Our portrait sessions are always led by the dog, and we go at a pace that allows each dog to become comfortable (often these dogs even begin to have fun). I always read the dog’s cues, and take breaks whenever necessary.
“Oh No, My Dog is Far Too Aggressive Around Other Dogs!”
Owners of reactive or aggressive dogs sometimes think they’ll never qualify for a portrait session. Good news, even these pet parents deserve gorgeous keepsake portraits, and I am no stranger to these tough personalities. This is just another example of reading the dog’s cues and body language, and showing a great deal of respect.
The image below is of Zeus, and he definitely likes his own personal space. At no time did I threaten to encroach on his “bubble”, and I certainly didn’t stare into his eyes. By the end of our session he had accepted me quite happily, and we might have even become friends. Zeus is a good boy, and I truly love and respect his big personality!
So there you have it. Never worry that your dog isn’t obedient enough, or brave enough, or friendly enough for a custom portrait session. Every dog (and owner) is treated to an experience that is a unique, fun adventure, and always full of surprises. There are no personality or obedience expectations.
Pet Photography Searches for Color!
Downtown Kenosha has some gorgeous, historical buildings, as well as architecture that’s visually interesting for portrait sessions. The perfect location to begin my Urban Dog Project. There was no shortage of stone and brick walls to use as backdrops, and it was easy to find now that best suited each dog. When I wanted something a little less neutral, and much more vibrant, I only had to look for gardens, colorful doors, and brightly-decorated shop windows. I was looking for a new location for my pet photography, and I found a ton of variety in Kenosha, with so many locations and vendors who were very welcoming to us and the dogs.
The fountain by the Kenosha Public Museum is surrounded by the most beautiful gardens. Such a peaceful and relaxing place to rest before moving on. Mila was very willing to pause for a moment.
We made a stop at Scoops Ice Cream & Candy but we were just a bit too early. If you have never visited, check it out. Great ice cream and other sweets, and best of all they have treats for your dog too! Click here to learn more.
Sometimes you just find something that just makes you stop in your tracks. This gorgeous door at St. Matthews Episcopal Church could not be passed up, we had to place Foxy there for a photo. She was the perfect dog for this location.
Sometimes it was bright lights that caught our attention. Elsie Mae’s has a fun sign in the window, and of course we wanted to go and eat pie!
I loved my time in downtown Kenosha with some pretty amazing dogs (and owners). I can’t wait to tour another town soon, and I’ll be sure to share the fun with you!
Downtown locations offer buildings, colors and so many textures!
One of the many draws of my Urban Dog Project was the possibility of something other than leafy green. 🙂 I love my forest backdrops, don’t get me wrong. But I wanted those neutral colors of stone and brick walls, and some vibrant colors thrown in too. Sometimes it was restaurant umbrellas, sometimes it was murals, sometimes it was other decorative pieces out on display.
As a pet photographer, I’m always striving to bring out each dog’s unique personality. This is often achieved in the facial expressions. The quiet tones of brick and stone walls allowed the pup to be the clear focus of the image.
When it was time to change the look, I was really happy to find some colors while we wandered throughout the downtown area. Some restaurants had vibrant umbrellas over the tables on the sidewalk. Patrons were happy to oblige, and seemed to really enjoy watching how we worked to capture a photo of a dog in the city.
Now here’s a fun backdrop! Mike’s Donuts & Chicken has great murals as well as bright umbrellas on the rooftop dining area. And if that isn’t cool enough, this establishment also held a fundraiser for Safe Harbor Humane Society. That is awesome. And if you haven’t tried the donuts, you should (click here)!
And because Mike’s is so cool, we even had a pup or two sit in the rickshaw!
The ultimate display of color was Kenosha’s “Keyed Up Kenosha” art project. Beautiful pianos were displayed throughout the downtown area.
So many beautiful buildings, some great colors to work with, it was really fun taking the dogs to downtown Kenosha. There were even more colors, but I’ll save those for another day. Be sure to check back to see what other fun we had during my Urban Dog Project.
This summer I was downtown with dogs!
I love the woods, and frankly, so do many of my clients. As a pet photographer, I was looking for a change of scenery, and a new challenge to test my skills. While out playing with my dogs, an idea snuck into my head. Take the camera and the dogs into downtown locations! And so my #UrbanDogProject was born. So many possibilities, so many urban locations.
I decided our first destination would be downtown Kenosha. I put out a model call for small to medium sized dogs, and boy did I get an enthusiastic response! I wish I could have chosen everyone, but I had to select those who were best suited for this job.
After deciding on my final models (and their humans), we met in Kenosha and visited many fun locations. This was a great way to discover dog-friendly businesses, and there were so many gorgeous colors and textures. Just so different from those green, natural, parks and woods. It was refreshing to go somewhere new, dry and best of all mosquito-free!
Kenosha’s downtown has so much to offer. My next few posts will be highlighting our various adventures, and the different shops and restaurants that were buzzing with activity. So many dogs and places, so little time!
Tucker was happy to help me welcome you all to downtown Kenosha.
One stop with lots of potential (for the humans) is the Dinosaur Discovery Museum. Did you know this is right in downtown Kenosha? This museum boasts the largest display of theropod dinosaurs. Not sure what that means? Be sure to visit the museum to find out. And they have fun events for the whole family too! We stayed outside – but that’s okay, we had fun too.
Schatzi, is that a Dilophosaurus next to you??
The Dinosaur Discovery Museum was pretty quiet when we visited out front, but that was probably because we stopped by pretty early in the morning. That’s okay, it was still fun to check out the dinosaurs outside! Look at the size of these guys, I’m sure glad they’re not still roaming the earth.
Foxy wanted to size up the competition…
Another great morning stop was The Coffee Pot. And for all you dog lovers out there, this restaurant is dog-friendly! Well-mannered pups are welcome to join you for breakfast on the outdoor patio during the nice weather.
Delta was ready for breakfast at The Coffee Pot.
Did you just “drop” some bacon? The Coffee Pot was a colorful, bustling place to stop with the dogs for pictures. People were friendly and very welcoming. If you haven’t visited yet, check out the menu, then go and order the Percolator – you can thank me later.
Harper was patiently waiting her turn for breakfast on the patio.
That was just a couple of the stops we made this summer while visiting downtown Kenosha. I’ll post more images and stories in the days ahead. I will also be extending my #UrbanDogProject to other cities since I have come to love what these places have to offer. I have some new locations up my sleeve, so I’ll be looking for more dog models in the future. I love my job as a pet photographer, I get to explore new places with fabulous dogs and humans. So stay tuned, more to come!
Who’s Behind the Lens?
It’s hard to come out from behind the camera. I figured it was time, and thankfully Netasha of Ruffolo Photography came to my rescue. Thank you Netasha!
So here we go, an official introduction. I’m Jan Bezzo, and I’m the owner and photographer behind Shadow Dog Photography. As a pet photographer I create photographic art of your beloved animals so you can enjoy those memories forever.
It’s all About the Animals!
I am a photographer that specializes in pets. That’s it, just pets. And sometimes their people too. I work with clients to fully understand their visions, allowing me to create custom and unique images. Every pet means something different to every person. Knowing this, my goal is to make that connection and provide photographic artwork that makes people smile. A lot.
I’ve been around animals my entire life. Because of this, smelling like horses or being covered in cat and dog hair has always been normal (isn’t it??) for me. Spending days and nights at the show barn, often missing out on a whole lot of sleep. Dogs and cats have always been a part of my life, both at home and everywhere I went. Nowadays my family shares our home with two German Shepherds, a leopard gecko, a milk snake, and six fish. Photography has always been my way of capturing those candid moments, and I still love looking back at pets that have long since left me.
For several years now I have worked closely with shelters and rescue organizations. Taking a photo of a homeless dog or cat was a natural fit for me. Taking a photo that told each animal’s story, that connected the viewer to that animal—that became my passion. I know the power of a compelling photo, and every homeless animal deserves to have one. It’s their chance for a forever home, and I love helping make this happen. Capturing the image that makes you feel like that animal is looking deep into your soul, that’s what it’s all about for me.
The connection between you and your pets is incredibly special.
Now’s the time to get some professional photos of these family members, don’t you think?