Things are HAPPENING here at Soul Dog Studios...and I want to thank you, my loyal fans, wholeheartedly, for following my work and offering your kind words of praise and encouragement throughout my crazy pet photography journey. On the hard days, even a simple "like" on a Facebook or Insta photo is enough to keep my head in the game and help me move forward. I'm insanely grateful for your presence here - so grateful, in fact, that I have a really special offer for you...
Here's what's up. I'm putting together my first email newsletter as a way to keep in touch with you all without navigating the weird Facebook algorithms that keep a lot of you from seeing my work when it's posted (really, what gives?). Aside from giving you access to exclusive deals and promotions, I also want to be able to offer helpful pet- and art-related articles and news that you might find helpful or encouraging, and deliver some photo inspiration right to your inbox. I'm eager to get started sharing - all I need is for you guys to sign up!
As a little incentive, whether you are brand-new to Soul Dog Studios or a returning customer, I want to offer my Professional Photo Retouching Service to you for a deeply discounted price in exchange for simply signing up for the newsletter. Usually $18 per photo, I'm offering a chance to get your next (or first!) photo serviced for $9 - which is the lowest price my service has EVER been, and ever will be! And it's only going to be for those of you sign up to to be part of the email inner circle.
(As for the emails themselves, I don't do spam - so don't worry. You'll hear from me, like, once a week. Maybe. But it'll be GOOD STUFF!!)
So how do you sign up? It's easy! All you need to do is:
1). Message the Facebook page or email me (SoulDogStudios@gmail.com) letting me know you'd like to opt in
2). Include your location (city & state/province), just for my records
3). Send me the photo you'd like retouched sometime before the end of the month!
Really, that's all. I'll be in touch shortly after with invoicing information, you'll be added to the inner circle, and once things are up and running, you'll be among the first (and sometimes to only) to know what's new here at the studio.
Happy November!! I hope to be retouching a LOT of your photos this month! ;)
October 12, 2017. Roughly 2:30 PM. Lafayette, Colorado.
The universe couldn't have gifted us with a more beautiful autumn day; sunny and warm, with a gentle breeze sending vibrant red and orange and yellow leaves swirling onto the streets and sidewalks. The light was bright and even, the shooting conditions were basically perfect, yet the air was heavy with a certain kind of sadness - one I thought I was prepared for. But I wasn't.
On October 12, I wasn't shooting a regular session. No new puppy celebration, no pet birthday shenanigans, no day-hike documentation. On October 12, I was invited to spend time with Stoli, an 8 year old Golden Retriever, and his mom, Kathy, on his last day on this earth.
Sometimes, circumstance isn't kind. Stoli not only struggled with chronic seizures, but had also been battling cancer that caused an aggressive tumor to grow on the side of his throat. He could no longer swallow on his own. Breathing was becoming increasingly hard for him. And his parents were put in the position that no pet parent should ever have to face - what more can be done for Stoli? How much longer should he endure this pain?
So the compassionate decision was made. October 12, 2017 would be the end of Stoli's suffering, and the beginning of a long road to healing for his family, friends, sister Ginger, and all those whose lives he touched.
I knew what I was walking into. And I thought I was ready for it. But can you really prepare? Can you truly arrive at a place of peace knowing that this sweet soul, someone's whole world, still so full of light and love is going to be gone mere hours - not even, actually - after you put on your Professional Photographer Face and demeanor and try to bottle up some last moments of joy for your already grief-stricken client? It felt almost selfish to grieve, even a little bit, during the session. After all. this wasn't even my dog. I had only met him once before. Yet the tears came, quietly, and didn't stop.
I deal in photos because words are too hard to find. There is no language, spoken or written, for this kind of loss. No phrase or syntax to encompass the enormity of this grief and the hold it keeps on you. If you've lost a heart dog, you know.
And as heartbreaking as these sessions are, they're a large part of why I do what I do. Like Stoli's parents, and like many of you, I know that pain of losing your heart dog, and I've come to understand the importance of documenting and celebrating our pets' lives while we can. The photos we keep are some of a limited few artifacts representing their life of love. And they can be an integral part of the healing process - even when it seems like healing is impossible - for years to come.
I feel blessed and privileged that I was invited to be part of Stoli's last hours and share in the love and light he still generously gave. My earnest hope is that the photos I take bring healing, comfort, and joy to Stoli's family and friends as they grieve his loss and seek new sources of light in this dark time.
Rest well, sweet Stoli.
This past week, I had the privilege of spending a couple of days with two SUPER COOL people from Tennessee to hike around in the mountains with their lovely and diverse pack of dogs. With Ashton came Chess, a sweet 9 month old Border Collie with a face to die for (and one you might have seen before - she has her own website!), and with Abs came labrador Scully, berger picard Dude, and wolfdog Wildling (who also has his own website).
Bright-eyed Chess seemed to be just as enamored with the trails and views as any of us; she's been hiking plenty at home in Tennessee, but I think we can all agree that there's no place quite like Colorado. The diverse landscapes, the views, the comfortable temperature (for now...), the fresh mountain air (and altitude that comes with it). I did wonder if these southern pups were feeling the elevation at all the way they were zipping around as if they'd lived here all along. Man, I wish it had been that easy for us bipeds to acclimate.
One of the things I was really looking forward to about Ashton & Abs' visit was the opportunity to meet and photograph a high-content wolfdog. I'd only ever read about them and seen others' photos, and what pet photographer's dream doesn't include a nice set of wolfy photos for the portfolio?
I sort of feel like I hit the jackpot here. First, the Boulder, CO area affords access to multiple gorgeous locations that we basically had to ourselves (weekdays in the off-season FTW!). The light was gorgeous and even all day. AND as if that wasn't enough, Abs' hard work as a professional dog trainer really made our sessions more seamless than I could have ever hoped for! You never quite know what to expect when you're interacting with a wolfdog; some, like Wildling, are bred and raised specifically for media and film work and have personalities leaning more towards the social end of the spectrum - not to mention experienced and skilled trainer-handlers. Others may be skittish or reactive toward any number of environmental triggers, which, while workable, will undoubtedly cause some delays in the shooting process as we work with that animal on establishing some level of comfort during the session. The latter was not the case with Abs and Wildling, and we came away with some great shots to show for it.
I'm so grateful that Ashton and Abs made time to visit with us and schedule some photo time during their busy trip across the country. What a cool opportunity it was to meet Wildling and the rest of the pack! And just in case you can't get enough of Chess and Wildling, be sure to follow them both on Instagram and Facebook:
Chess on Chairs | Website | Instagram (@chessonchairs) | Facebook
Wildling Wanders | Blog | Instagram (@wildlingwanders) | Facebook
Want to schedule your own photo session with Soul Dog Studios? Here's how!
You've seen the fruits of Soul Dog Studios' shoots all over the Facebook page, Instagram, and here on the site. The final photos, fully retouched, the end results we've all been anticipating since booking day - ready to rock the portfolio, engage social media, and hang elegantly on clients' walls.
But what goes on behind the scenes? What's a photo really made of, and what happens during a session when conditions aren't quite (or at all) what we hoped for?
While a lot of photographers are afraid to admit this, let me be completely, unabashedly honest with you...
...Photography in the digital age often relies on Post-Processing - or simply, editing - to bring out the raw potential hiding in each image.
And while it would be glamorous and soothing to my ego to tout that all of my photos are perfect straight-out-of-camera (SOOC)...that's simply untrue. Moreover, it's disservice to potential clients and aspiring photographers alike to make that claim. Could you imagine being held to such a high standard? As client, what happens when you show up to your session only to find cloud cover dampening your hopes for the sunny, glowing photos you imagined? Or, as a photographer, when was the last time you looked through your viewfinder and saw the equivalent of the finished images your favorite professionals post online?
Probably never. And that's ok. Because in this age, the art of photography doesn't end with the camera itself - we're blessed with imaging software that helps photographers create photos that would never be possible otherwise. Like the photo of Evey above. Take a look...
Evey’s photo was taken on a dark and rainy late-afternoon hike. I had a vision in mind for the framing of the shot and knew I wanted to incorporate Aspen leaves in the foreground and background, but the less-than-ideal lighting conditions were standing in the way of the bright, vibrant picture I imagined. Sure, I could easily return to this location on a brighter day (and I still might), but I thought, why not challenge myself and see what I can realistically do with this, right here, right now?
This is so important to me because, as professional photographers know, you and your client can arrive on-location on the date of your shoot - maybe one that was scheduled months ago - only to be caught off guard by the weather. Some clients have the flexibility to reschedule or wait for conditions to improve. Most don’t. So it’s up to you to utilize your skillset to make the absolute best of the situation and deliver the kind of photo you promised your client the day they booked. Regardless of the external conditions.
This used to terrify me, but I’m learning to let it inspire me instead, and push myself to do more and better with the shooting conditions I am given (with the help of editing software, of course). And now, my clients can rest assured that whatever the world throws at us on their big day, I'm equipped to handle it and come out on the other side with impactful, inspiring images.
While the lighting conditions in Kali's photo are mostly fine, and the client may have just been happy with a slightly brightened version of the original, the photo is not completely true to my style of soft, dreamy light and backgrounds. So I brought it into post and made it that way.
I have an obligation to my clients to deliver the best experience and the best images possible. They have trusted me to capture memories of their pets that they'll look back on for a lifetime, and to meet their expectations, it's up to me to use every tool at my disposal. Not just the camera, not just the lens selection, not just reflectors and props. Editing software included. Because it's an integral part of creating the kind of art my clients booked for.
And for those clients who aren't local or don't have the time to book their own shoot right now, I pour my heart into my photo retouching service for the same reasons. As a lover of pet photography, I know there is potential for every photo, even if it seems to be hiding. With skillful use of the editing software at my disposal, I can take someone's special (but often technically lacking) photo and breathe into it life. While the two photos featured in the post are both fully my own, I work with other people’s photos every single week, helping the owner fall in love with them again. And I can help you, too! (Follow this link to the Soul Dog Studios photo retouching page).
Stay inspired! And let me know your thoughts by commenting below!
Hey, guys! Thanks for checking in! We're keeping busy here at Soul Dog Studios, taking advantage of the warm weather for adventuring outdoors (and sunbathing on the porch, if you're Lyra).
Pet photography, for me, doesn't stop at the professional level; I strive to integrate it into my daily life, whether I'm working a client session, retouching someone else's photos, or working on artistic projects featuring my own dogs. With so many pet-friendly recreational opportunities in the Boulder area, it's difficult to imagine just staying home without utilizing the gorgeous local scenery to create something everyday. So on Tuesday when I was invited on a dog hike with two friends, I jumped at the chance. We agreed on a location (an off-leash legal trail in Lyons, CO), a start time, and packed up our dogs - a combined group of 6 - and hit the trail. My friend had told me beforehand about the seemingly endless fields of purple wildflowers currently in bloom, and, as a pet photographer, how could I not pack the camera gear, too?
My day pack ended up heavier than usual with the added weight of my camera body and two lenses, but it was entirely worth it - even though I only ended up using my 85mm. I would have been super disappointed if I had chosen to pack light and forgone the photo-opps of the dogs.
The purple and yellow flowers, combined with the early morning light, provided the perfect backdrop for posing dogs. That's Evey in the purple and Punch in the yellow. I've been photographing these two dogs for years, and they're quite well versed in posing at this point. I'm grateful for their patience, especially since they just wanted to race down the trail!
That's not to imply that only highly trained, well-practiced dogs are good candidates for pet photography; Folly here, a young Pyrenean Shepherd with energy to spare, was spotted rock-hopping throughout the hike, which made for perfect candid photo opportunities. I or her owner would simply make a silly sound to capture her attention, and I'd take the shot.
Jupiter was a bit more complicated to photograph. He's an 8 month old Mudi puppy and almost never stops moving. Still, I've got a number of tricks up my sleeve I've learned from puppy photo sessions, and was able to capture him briefly looking at the camera in between stick-munching.
All in all, we ended up hiking a solid 9 miles and tiring everybody out in the process. The trail was gorgeous and we can't wait to go back! If hiking's your thing, consider getting in touch about an on-location session and maybe we can get together!
Oh, and there was a hidden gem along the trail that I photographed extensively...stay tuned for Part 2 to see! :)
Soul Dog Studios