Tag Archives: dog

Ben Afraid of Thunder

It was a dark and stormy night. Early evening, actually. I had just driven all the way to the Bitterroot for a photo shoot that had been scheduled for months, but got cancelled at the last moment due to the brewing storm.


Now I had to drive all the way back through town in 5-o’clock traffic. Grrrr. My mood was as dark as the thunderclouds rolling in. This whole cancellation thing blew a huge hole in my Sunday afternoon. When I hold a day open for a photo shoot, I say no to all other things to make space for the creativity. No to invitations to meet up with friends, no to baking bread, no to starting projects. So now here was this hollow afternoon that could have been so productive.


Traffic was slow. Headlights glared on the wet streets and taillights pulsed in front of me. Thunder cracked and rolled across the valley. The sky turned green. Hail was on its way.


At the corner of Madison and Broadway, I saw a big yellow dog weaving between lanes of traffic. Oh no! No. No. No. No. I sent thoughts of heightened vision and quick reactions to all drivers around me. See him! Stop for him!


Wait a minute. Sending thoughts? Right.


So I did what any rational person would do. I pulled the parking brake and jumped out of the car leaving the door wide open. I put up my “stop!” hand the way traffic cops do and managed to slow the traffic in my lane.


I walked towards the old dog. Would he trust me? Or would he run? I always consider that I might be doing a disservice to approach a dog like this. I might chase him into more danger. But, I had such a deliberate intention to save him that I think he must have known.


I approached slowly, and beckoned. He came towards me. “Do you want to go for a ride?” All dogs have magic words that make them happy. Being a Missoula dog, I guessed he might know this phrase. He did. And yes, he’d like to go for a ride. I gently grabbed his collar and guided him to his waiting carriage.


His 110-lb wet bulky body filled my back seat. His thankful eyes filled my heart. I shot of photo with my phone and sent it to my husband. “Meet Ben! :D.” A few minutes later, I texted, “Don’t worry. I’m taking him home to his house. Not ours. 😉 ”


Posted in Dog Town, Dogs, Missoula Also tagged , |

Magic Words: Tips for taking great photos of your dog

When I arrive at a dog’s home for a photo session, I’m greeted with lots of energy.  Many dogs are so excited about me being there, they wag and wiggle, show me their favorite toys, peak inside my camera lens, check their food bowl, ask nicely for a belly rub or suggest a good scratch right above the tail. I’m happy to oblige, of course. All of this rigorous greeting and getting to know each other leads to a lot of panting. And pictures of panting dogs are fine, but a few of these go a long way. What I really want to get are shots that show more facets of a dog’s personality.

So, how to get a dog to close her mouth? Say some magic words. Usually anything that starts with “do you want…” and ends with a noun or verb will get her to slurp in her tongue if only for a quick second. And this is just enough time to snap the shot.

I’ll ask a dog’s person what her magic words are before the shoot begins so I have my secret arsenal ready if I should need it. Invariably, Missoula dogs will snap to attention when asked if they want to go to their favorite off-leash area, like Bark Park? Water Works Hill? Jumbo? Saddle? Blue Mountain? River?

Missoula dogs are also ready to say yes! to any of their favorite activities like Hike? Swim? Fishing? They also love any suggestion they’ll get to ride in a Truck? or Boat?

Kamukin visited me from out of town so she didn’t know Missoula dogs’ magic words. She came with one of her own….Frisbee?

Around our house, just the word “do” would get an immediate yes! But, that’s the price a dog pays for living with a dog-loving photographer.

What’s your dog’s magic word? Next time you are snapping a photo of them, try this simple trick and let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below.

Posted in Dog Photography, Dog Town, Dogs, Missoula, Photography Tips, Uncategorized Also tagged , , , , , |

Cheeto Moment

Dogs know that sometimes when you are looking for something specific, like that tennis ball that just rolled under the couch, you often find something else even more wonderful and marvelous, like a Cheeto.


I had a Cheeto moment recently.


A West Coast advertising agency gave me the assignment to photograph some dogs for a national dog food brand. Their client wanted three specific types of dogs for the ad:


1) A medium-size adult “working dog” with “healthy mobility” like a Border Collie, Australian shepherd, Cattle Dog, etc.

2) Any other medium-sized adult dog who is fit and has a good activity level

3) A small toy breed dog like a Chihuahua, Dachshund, Short-haired Terrier, etc.


My first thought was how lucky it was for the ad agency (and for me) that I live in Missoula. I would have no trouble finding just the right cast of characters for their ad. I emailed a casting call to about 30 friends inviting their dogs to consider the fame and fortune that would come from starring in a dog food ad, not to mention the fringe benefit of getting to chow down while on the job.


The replies started immediately. Hundreds of them filled my inbox. My email had been forwarded again and again to friends of friends, all of them proud parents of dogs who would be perfect, or almost perfect, for the job.


The emails extolled the virtues of dogs all over town. I was introduced to photogenic dogs who were mostly well-behaved but had a few lingering bad habits like eating the cat food, bolting after squirrels and taking up too much room on the bed. Someone mentioned their very fit Great Dane would like to be considered for the medium-sized part. One person offered up her boyfriend’s dog if the agency changed their mind and needed an old, cantankerous dog full of character and bushy good looks.


Phone photos poured in. Every few minutes, I got a photo of a dog visiting Santa, dressed for trick-or-treating, or just being their wonderful self. One photo that really made me giggle was captioned “here she is chewing on my sock” (which is still on my foot).


My favorite veterinarian posed the question that the casting call was perhaps discriminating against large breeds, disabled and older dogs. Personally, I think she was secretly campaigning for one of her pack to get a part in the ad.


What really came through in all the emails was the true love and adoration people have for their dogs. When I go back to re-read them, it always makes me smile. I wish I could make them all famous. The next time I need a big dog, little dog, funny looking dog, trickster, shedder, licker, shaker, jumper, or tail chaser, I’ll know where to find them.


When the ad agency told me the project fell through, it was hard to be sad. What I had found during my search was so much more than I could have imagined. A giant Cheeto, so to speak.

Posted in Dog Town, Dogs, Missoula Also tagged , , , , |