An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language. ~ Martin Buber
I, for one, hate having my picture taken. While “hate” may seem like a strong word, I can assure you that there have been exactly four photos taken of me in my entire life that didn’t make me cringe. I’m okay with candid photos – not that I necessarily like the outcome any more but not knowing that I’m being photographed is most definitely preferable, and much more likely to result in a halfway decent result. Just the thought of posing for pictures makes my palms sweaty (not in a good way) and raises my blood pressure (again, not in a good way)
As much as I detest being in front of the camera, like most pet-obsessed folks, I have no problem taking endless shots of my pooches, Zora and Simon on my iPhone. (Check out my Pinterest page) And, again, like my pet-fanatical brethren, I am convinced that everyone thoroughly enjoys my Facebook posts of said pictures. However, the quality of my shots is, shall we say, amateur at best.
Following my latest pin of Simon sleeping, (C’mon… that’s pretty adorable.) I wondered how the pros capture those action shots of Fido running happily through the meadow or of Buttons and Felix lazing on the windowsill in perfect afternoon light. I had never considered scheduling a photo session with Zora or Simon. Zora by herself, perhaps, but I’m pretty sure Simon (and I) would require large doses of medication in order to make it through a professional photo session.
Given that something like 1 in 3 Boulder households has at least one pet, it is not surprisingly that our fair city is home to several professional shutterbugs specializing in pet photography. Whether you are looking for an outdoor nature shot or a more subdued formal picture, these photographers offer a range of services to help you capture that special moment with your pet. I asked Ty at Atomic Pet Portraits how he and wife, Ashley, came to work with pets. “I had lost my passion for wedding photography,” says Ty, “and Ashley, had lost the joy and passion of shooting shoes as a product photographer for Sketchers. We wanted to take pictures of something we really loved.” The couple’s shared love of animals and portrait photography gave birth to Atomic Pet Portraits.
“It’s a kind of kooky, weird niche,” explains Ty but both he and Ashley love the work. “We take some time at the beginning of each shoot to meet the animals without all of our gear around. We want everyone to be comfortable before we begin shooting.”
Allison Mae of Allison Mae Photography draws her inspiration from the notion that “our pets lead rich inner lives” and she’s found that “portrait photography has a way of exposing this emotional landscape by removing the clutter and laying bare the bonds we share.” With a Masters in Sociology, Allison was heading down the corporate path and really missing a creative outlet. When her husband gave her a camera as a gift, Allison started shooting images of her own dogs. Allison discovered that others were making a living exploring the inner world of the guardian-pet connection through photography and everything changed.
Allison’s approach is a mix of fine art and photojournalism where she lets the human-pet bond unfold naturally in a setting that is meaningful to both pet and human to create images that are beautiful and authentic. Shooting pet companions “comes with its own set of challenges”, says Allison. “The language challenges alone are fascinating. You have to build trust in order to get the special shot. Somewhere midway through the session, something gives and you start to see their unique expressions and traits.”
“This work has taught me that I can put myself out there. I never considered myself an entrepreneur but here I am.” With a strong belief in community, Allison regularly volunteers her time for the Denver area Puppy Up event sponsored by 2 million dogs and she offers a reduced session fee for terminally ill or elderly pets.
It takes patience, creativity and true love of animals to capture your pet’s unique personality on film. If you are ready to start documenting the life of your dog, cat, horse or other animal companion, don’t hesitate. Call one of Boulder’s amazing pet photographers an book a shoot!
[fa icon=”paw”] Simon Says
Please! Do not dress pets up for pictures. You think it’s cute but we find it humiliating and may retaliate by relieving ourselves in the back corner of your closet or in your favorite pair of Uggs.
Atomic Pet Portraits 303.882.7445
Originally published on the AWESOME Boulder Life site on February 5, 2013