Hi! I'm Ali, and welcome to my blog!

I'm an animal-loving, sun-worshipping photographer who specilaizes in FRESH photography for ACTIVE pet parents! I strive to help pet parents like YOU look good, feel good, and do good. To learn more about me, my services, products, and how I can help you, please visit my website at alipeterson.com.

Here, you'll find my most recent adventures in pet photography, including but not limited to: photo sessions with families and pet businesses, custom product information, helpful How-To articles, special event highlights, model calls, contests, and other useful resources to help educate and entertain you.

Sep 05, 2017

You don’t have to own a Pit Bull to know that they get a bad rap. Any dog owner could tell you who Michael Vick is, and even if they’re not a fan of Pit Bulls, they wouldn’t agree with the practice of organized dog fighting. Having owned 3 Pit Bulls at one time (my middle child passed away in May 2017, you can read all about that here…warning: you may need a tissue), I know first-hand the negative Pit Bull stereotyping and judgments that are thrown in the faces of Pit Bull parents on a regular basis.

For those who don’t know…imagine walking your dog and seeing some one cross the street in front of traffic just to avoid walking passed you. Imagine being forced into a home you can’t afford or a town you don’t want to live in because they don’t allow your dog to be there. Imagine meeting a fellow dog lover who suddenly wants nothing to do with you because they discovered what breed of dog you have. This is the kind of treatment Pit Bull parents receive regularly. It’s just not fair to them, and it’s not fair to the dogs.

Think about it…it’s one thing to dislike a certain breed for whatever reasons (maybe you just aren’t fond of big dogs, or your need a dog that serves a specific purpose), but for those who are hating on Pit Bulls just because of their past are literally holding a grudge against some one who was forced to do something against their will. These dogs don’t WANT to fight, they’re being forced to. There’s dogs in China that are being forced to wear kid’s clothes and walk upright on their hind legs just for some viral video craze, but no one holds a grudge against them. They feel sorry for them. But because of what the Pitties were forced to do (kill other Pitties), suddenly they’re classified as horrible, vicious dogs.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, a significant amount of progress has been made in preventing dog fighting from existing, as well as educating the public on all the good qualities that Pit Bulls have. Take Gigi, for example…she spent her childhood unwillingly participating in the Missouri 500 dog fighting games. The organization was busted in 2009, freeing Gigi, along with over 350 other dogs who were brought into shelters in hopes of finding loving homes. Shortly after, Gigi met her soulmate parents who have since rehabilitated her and certified her as a therapy dog. Despite her brutal past, which is evident by her scarred appearance and one blind eye, she now happily volunteers at Love on a Leash Pet Therapy. Together with her mom, they visit veterans, seniors, and adults with mental disabilities to brighten their days with her wagging tail and infectious smile.

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With that said, we have a long way to go before Pit Bulls and their parents are “accepted” in society the way other breeds are…the way they deserve to be. And it’s up to us to do something about it. Trying to convince the public that Pit Bulls are sweet, loving animals will not be easy. They are, in fact, genetically dispositioned to attack and destroy. And they do, in fact, account for the majority of fatal dog bites in the U.S. BUT, I believe we can help minimize the chances of these types of incidences from occurring. With education and responsible pet ownership, we can help Pit Bulls become the dogs they’re meant to be. It’ll be a long journey to get there, but we have to start somewhere. So, to begin, there’s one simple thing you can do to help show the public how wonderfully beautiful these dogs are, inside and out.

What’s that one simple thing? Share pictures of your Pittie. Seriously! Show the world how loving they are by photographing them giving kisses to you and/or your family members. Nothing says “what a sweet pup” like a photo of a dog licking a baby’s face or the two of them getting along like best buds. Praise their skills by sharing pictures of them performing tricks and other talents. ¬†These are dogs are eager to please which makes them fast learners. They’re smart! Make a commitment to teach them a new trick every other month, then share it. Get them certified and take them to visit hospitals, veterans, elderly homes, kids with special needs. Take pictures of them interacting with these people that benefit from having them in their lives.

Dozer may be a big Bull, but he’s not a bully. Having almost not survived his first few days of life, he was rescued and now lives happily with and his brother, Sawyer. And they are two peas in a pod. They sleep, play, and eat together. Dozer even lets Sawyer ride on his back like a horse!

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Hurley & Titan have a sister with Down Syndrome who they absolutely adore. And it goes without saying that she adores them back. Pit Bulls like Hurley & Titan are the epitome of “family dog,” showing nothing but unconditional love for their family members.

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If we all show the world how big our little Pittie’s hearts really are, we’ll continue to make progress towards their acceptance. Pit Bulls deserve to be given a chance. With out help, they can be treated with the same love, respect, and kindness that other breeds receive. Like I said, it’s a long, tough journey ahead, but we’ve got to start somewhere. Every little step we take towards educating ourselves on responsible ownership, and educating the public on our progress helps. So join the cause, learn about the breed, practice safe ownership, strengthen their non-violent skills, help raise awareness, take some pictures of your Pittie and share them! If you’re not the best photographer and you feel you can’t do your dog justice, call or email me. I would LOVE to help you ūüôā

Negative Pit Bull Stereotyping, Ali Peterson Photography

Want to help stop negative Pit Bull stereotyping in a bigger way? Donate to your local Pit Bull non-profit. Awareness groups and rescue organizations (like San Diego’s “SD Pittie Parents” and “Passion For Pitties“) are always looking for help. Also, keep an eye out for my special promotion that I’ll be having during National Pit Bull Awareness month (October)!


Photos taken at Los Pe√Īasquitos Canyon Preserve.

Aug 24, 2017

Essential Oils For Dogs, Orange County Pet Family Photographer

If you’re into essential oils, you probably know all the wonderful benefits they have, and how to use them to reap those benefits. But, did you know that they can also significantly benefit your dog as well?! Using essential oils for dogs can offer a natural, holistic alternative to some of the most common and severe symptoms that dogs get.

In order to get a better understanding of exactly how to use essential oils for dogs, I teamed up with Orange County heath and wellness professional, Dr. Nikki Knight. Together, we determined the Top 10 Ways To Use Essential Oils For Dogs, based on the most common dog problems, such as anxiety, inflammation, fleas, and allergies. And here to help us demonstrate is her fluffy fur baby (and one of my best friends), Chewie!

Essential Oils For Dogs, Orange County Dr. Nikki KnightDr. Nikki Knight is a family nurse practitioner with an expertise in essential oils. She has dedicated the past 5 years to essential oil research and implements them into her nursing practice as well as her home.

She currently works and lives in Southern California and is a mom to three (2 humans and a pup). Credentials: Nikki Knight, DNP, APRN, FNP.

Read her blog, and follow her on Instagram!


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What Are Essential Oils?

  • Natural aromatic compounds found in plants.

  • Extracted by steam distillation or cold-pressing.

  • Powerful and safe, without side effects.

  • 50-70x more powerful than herbs.

Essential Oils For Dogs, Orange County Pet Family Photographer

Top 10 Ways To Use Essential Oils for Dogs

  1. Frankincense: Anxiety, Colitis, Inflammation, Infections, Insect/Snake Bites, Scarring, Tumors, Warts

  2. Lavender: Abscesses, Anxiety, Allergies, Burns, Conjunctivitis, Inflammation, Tumors, Vertigo, Wound Care

  3. Lemon: Anxiety, Electrolyte Balance, Immune Boost, Infections, Lymph Function, Claw Strength

  4. Oregano: Bronchitis, Colds, Infections, MRSA, Ringworm, Strep, Staph

  5. Peppermint: Asthma, Bronchitis, Diarrhea, Fever, Heatstroke, Inflammation, Muscle Pain, Ulcers

  6. Calming Blend: Anxiety, Burns, Inflammation, Wound Care

  7. Digestive Blend: Allergies, Diarrhea, Digestive parasites, Ulcers, Vomiting

  8. Protective Blend: Abscesses, Colds, Flu, Immune Support, MRSA, Oral health, parasites, Spider Bites

  9. Respiratory Blend: Asthma, Allergies, Colds, Heatstroke, Kennel Cough

  10. Flea Repellent – In a 16oz spray bottle, put 4-6 drops of Rosemary and 4-6 drops of Cleansing Blend; fill remainder of bottle with water. Lightly spray dog, avoiding the eyes. Reapply as needed for flea prevention.

Essential Oils For Dogs, Orange County Pet Family Photographer

How To Apply Essentials Oils To Your Dog

  1. Aromatic – dilute in an oil diffuser for mood management, air purification, and/or opening airways.

  2. Topical – spray or massage on localized areas for immediate comfort and/or immune support.

  3. Internal Р Mix with food or dilute in water for digestive support, or problems with the mouth, throat, or liver.

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Tips For Using Essential Oils For Dogs

  1. Dogs tolerate oil well, but dogs vary greatly in size. Use tiny amounts of oil for sensitive skin, puppies, and toy breeds. Dilute with coconut oil if needed.

  2. Apply oils between toes and on the pad of the foot when doing foot application.

  3. The oils do not build up in systems like drugs do; reapply as needed.

  4. Avoid contact with eyes, flush with milk if needed.

Essential Oils For Dogs, Orange County Pet Family Photographer

As an essential oil expert, Dr. Knight recommends doTERRA brand oils.¬†When you choose doTERRA, you are choosing essential oils gently and carefully distilled from plants that have been patiently harvested at the perfect moment by experienced growers from around the world for ideal extract composition and efficacy. Each doTERRA essential oil is also carefully and thoroughly tested using the strict CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade¬ģ quality protocol. Check out their website at doTERRA.com.

To purchase essential oils for your dog, visit doTERRA.com or contact Dr. Nikki Knight directly.

Essential Oils For Dogs, Orange County Dr. Nikki Knight



Jul 27, 2017

Many clients go into a photography session thinking they want all the photos as digital files because it’s easier, cheaper, faster…The truth is, most clients THINK they want digital files because they simply don’t know the true value in other, more tangible products. That’s why I’m here to explain the pros and cons of purchasing digital files, so that you can make the educated decision (as opposed to an assumption) on whether or not you should buy them.

digital files, ali peterson photography

1. Freedom to DIY

If you’re like me, you love to create. And having a¬†stockpile¬†of professional photos in your creativity toolbox offers endless possibilities for crafting. With digital files at your disposal, you’re able to rock your DIY skills in a way you probably couldn’t do if you had taken¬†the photos yourself.

BUT…this also requires you to DIY. If you’re like me, you’re also pretty darn busy. So, trying to find time to¬†create something just for fun is not always easy. Before you know it, it’s months, even years later, and those digital files are still sitting on that USB drive, waiting to be transformed into a work of art.

digital files, ali peterson photography

2. Longevity of files vs prints

Despite the fact that technology is ever-changing, a JPG file is still more likely to last longer than a 16×20 print. This is simply because of it’s form – files can be kept safe on a computer or hard drive, while prints are out on display for all to see and touch.

BUT…what’s the point of having those files if no one gets to see the photos? Isn’t that the point of getting professional pictures taken? To display for all to see, to show off how adorable your pet is, to showcase¬†your family’s unconditional love?

Plus, just because your digital files are safely stored on your computer, doesn’t mean they can’t accidentally get deleted or lost. It’s a lot easier to lose a dinky little JPG file in a sea of photos and other computer clutter, than it is to lose a 16×20 framed print.

digital files, ali peterson photography

3. Instant gratification and ability to share

In today’s world, most people desire instant gratification, especially when it comes to photos. They want to immediately show¬†off their images and brag about how much fun they had during their photo shoot and how skilled their pet is at modeling. And when photos are in digital format, it makes sharing extremely fast and easy.

BUT…with patience comes great reward.¬†A photo that is shared on social media and viewed on a screen no bigger than your hand doesn’t receive the same response as if that same photo was shared as part of a large wall gallery in your living room. If you want to really¬†impress your friends and family, invite them over for dinner and show off your wall gallery¬†that was designed to be admired by an audience.

With that said…I don’t believe in holding photos hostage. I really want my clients to share their photos with the world! That’s why I include a custom mobile app with every session. It provides clients with a fast and easy way to share all their photos on social media, email, and/or in person. Read more about the custom mobile app HERE.

digital files, ali peterson photography

4. Cost vs Value

Now, before I go off on a tangent, let me just say that this is the biggest misconception clients have about digital files. And I don’t blame them! It’s a common misunderstanding, so let me explain…

Professional photographers who value prints over digital files will charge anywhere from $25-$200 for an 8×10 print. And the first thing many clients think is “why is it SO expensive? It cost $0.15 at Costco/Target/Walmart!” Well, big surprise…professional photographers aren’t getting their photos printed at Costco, Target, or Walmart. We use professional labs that print our images the way they’re suppose to look. If a client takes a digital file and has it printed somewhere other than through the photographer, they run the risk of receiving a low quality print that looks nothing like the photo they see on their screen. In fact, its’ almost guaranteed to NOT look the way it’s suppose to.

By trying to save money and get prints made at a low-cost lab, you not only devalue the work of the photographer, but you also devalue the investment you made in the photo session. If you’re going to¬†invest¬†hundreds of dollars on a photo session, you’re only cheating yourself by trying to save a few bucks on prints.

With that said…most photographers will still offer digital files, but at a premium price. I do this simply because at the end of the day, I want you to get the products you really want, but I also want you to spend your money wisely. I charge a higher price for A La Carte digital files because I don’t want that to be the only thing you buy. By purchasing a package, you still get digital files, but you also get all the other tangible items that you’ll be much more satisfied with, and you save up to 40%!!

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5. Conveniency

If you’re looking for convenience, there are tons of photographers out there who offer the shoot-and-burn “service.” I use “service” in quotes, because to me, that’s just not MY idea of¬†“real” service. It’s quick and cheap…just shoot and hand over the digital files. Done, bye! And that can be convenient for some…not having to get together for multiple meetings with the photographer, not having to figure out what products to order, not having to do much of anything besides show up for the photo shoot.

BUT…if you’re looking for a photographer who’s going to cater to your needs, listen to your goals, invest time and energy into creating a custom experience and products designed specifically for you, then shoot-and-burn is not the route you want to take. You’re not looking for convenience, you’re looking for custom.

And digital files are the LEAST custom option when it comes to professional photography. Besides the fancy USB drive they come on, there’s nothing custom about it. Sure, the images themselves were taken at a photo shoot that was customized for you, but the entire experience is meant to be customized, so why stop at the products?

With that said…you don’t necessarily have to skip out on the convenience. My sessions are designed to be as convenient for my clients as possible. I find other ways to make it easy and enjoyable for you, like letting you sign paperwork electronically, providing¬†payment plans if needed, sending friendly reminders and suggestions for preparing, and my all-time favorite, the Art Installation service…It doesn’t get much more convenient than that!

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So, if you THINK you want to purchase digital files, I encourage you to THINK a bit more about WHY you actually want them. Explain your reasons during your Consultation and I’ll help you determine what it is you REALLY want!

Want to book a Consultation to discuss it further? Have more questions about digital files? Call or email me, I’m happy to help!

Jul 20, 2017

Whether you’re a professional photographer or an enthusiastic¬†phonographer (some one who’s phone is constantly in camera mode), one thing’s for sure…photographing your dog at the beach is a¬†fun way to spend the summer. But sometimes, all that fun isn’t captured quite how you remember it…The sky was so blue, but in your photos, it’s bright white. Your dog looks like it only has one eye because of the harsh shadow on his face. Or everything’s just a blur. I understand how difficult, and sometimes frustrating, it can be. It’s not as easy as some make it seem. So, to help you improve those photos¬†you’re taking of Sparky this summer, here’s 5 Pro Tips For Photographing Your Dog At The Beach

1. Shoot with the sun at an angle (not directly in front, behind, or above you)

Photographing Dogs At The Beach, San Diego Pet Photographer, Ail Peterson Photography

There’s a reason photographers refer to the few hours after sunrise and before sunset as “magic hour.” Simply because it provides the most flattering sunlight. Ask ANY professional photographer if they shoot outside between the hours of 11am – 3pm and they’ll cringe at the thought. Those hours are reserved for swimming, relaxing, eating lunch, editing…not shooting. So, get to the beach early or stay late, and don’t shoot in the middle of the day. Directional light that comes from an angle of 45 degrees or less adds long shadows that give an image more depth. Shooting at high noon will only create shadows that will make your subjects look like something straight out of a zombie¬†movie!

2. Avoid crowds

Photographing Dogs At The Beach, San Diego Pet Photographer, Ail Peterson Photography

Although it’s often unavoidable (especially during the summer), it can be worth the effort to try to find a spot that’s a little less crowded. Not only does it make for cleaner backgrounds, but it also keeps your dog from getting easily distracted. Dogs are curious beings, but they’re more likely to be curious about other¬†dogs running around than your camera. So, try to find a spot that’s a little more secluded, like near a jetty or cliff, under a bridge, or around the corner. If you’re a professional photographer and/or skilled in Photoshop, you can usually edit out any unwanted background objects, like people, but save yourself the trouble by not getting them in the photo in the first place.

3. Shoot using Evaluative Metering & a Fast Shutter Speed

Photographing Dogs At The Beach, San Diego Pet Photographer, Ail Peterson Photography

If you’re not a pro, I’ve probably just confused you be using the terms “evaluative metering” and “fast shutter speed.” These are technical settings that aren’t available on phone cameras…well, not yet anyways. But for those of you who use what photographers refer to as “real cameras,” this is what I recommend if you don’t shoot in Manual mode. Evaluative metering basically determines what exposure to set your camera at by evaluating the entire scene and averaging it to give a “correct” exposure. This is beneficial when shooting at the beach because it gives a good average exposure,¬†making it easier to bring back the detail in the shadows and highlights during post-production. As for the shutter speed, that’s really the only way you’re going to be able to freeze those moments when your dog is running, swimming, jumping, and shaking off all that water. If your shutter speed is anything slower then 1/250, you’re guaranteed to get motion blur.

4. Use a Reflector (or a Flash) to fill harsh shadows

Photographing Dogs At The Beach, San Diego Pet Photographer, Ail Peterson Photography

I know, I know..who the heck brings a reflector to the beach?! Professional photographers, that’s who! But, for those of you who aren’t pros, there’s good news. As long as you understand the concept of what a reflector does, you can find other items to use to get the same result. A reflector is literally a large flat object used to reflect light from the main light source onto the shadow areas of your subject. In the image above, the main light source is the sun coming in at a 45 degree angle from the left, which caused a pretty harsh shadow on the right side of the dog. To brighten up the shadow, a reflector was held a few feet away and pointed right at the dog so that the light from the sun bounced into the shadow on the dog. See that little white light in the dog’s left eye (the eye in the shadow)? That’s the light from the reflector! Without the reflector, that eye would be pitch black.

So, if you don’t have a reflector, look for something that can act as one. The side of a white building, a piece of paper, a white t-shirt…heck, you can even use your phone’s flashlight!

You can take the same approach with a Flash. Whether your flash is on camera or off to the side, use it to fill in the shadow and light up the dog’s eye. The only reason I don’t have an example of what flash vs reflector looks like is because I really really really don’t like to use flash unless absolutely necessary. That’s just my style…plus I find that most animals don’t care for it much either. Just saying…

5. Avoid the water until the end of the shoot (if possible)

Photographing Dogs At The Beach, San Diego Pet Photographer, Ail Peterson Photography

Not all dogs at the beach like the water, but those that do typically¬†run straight in the moment they get there. And who can blame them?! I’m the same way – haha! But, if you’re trying to take pictures, especially for a professional shoot, you really want to try to avoid letting the dog get wet until the end of the shoot. Wet dogs are cute and all, but most people don’t want every single image of their dog to be when they’re soaking wet and covered in sand. To avoid the water, try playing fetch first, walking around on the leash, or doing some group shots. Then, hit the splash zone!

I hope you found these tips helpful. For more educational resources, like “6 Secrets To Looking Good In Photos,”¬†click HERE.

Jul 06, 2017

national pet professionals weekAre you¬†struggling to achieve your goals? I’m no Tony Robbins, but I do read his stuff, and if there’s one thing he’s taught me is that the real value of a goal comes from actually accomplishing it. In a recent post of his, he shared “to achieve anything, you first think of the future, you must envision it, you must plan it, then you must go after it.”

Regardless how big or small the goal¬†is, it’s crucial to implement a strategy and tactics for each. But trying to accomplish ALL of these tasks and to-do’s associated with achieving your goal often have people feeling¬†overwhelmed and thinking “where do I start?” “how do I know if I’m doing it right?” or “at what point do I give up?” Well, don’t give up just yet. Here are 5 steps to help you ensure you’re on the right track to achieve your goals…

achieve your goals

Make your goal visible. Write your goal down or print off a picture that displays your goal, or powerful statement reminding you of your goal, and put it everywhere- the bathroom mirror, the fridge, or next to your computer.

achieve your goals

Set a deadline. If you are trying to finish a project, or save up for a big trip, give yourself a specific date that you need to meet your goal by. This is a great way to get  motivated and will help you work hard as you know you only have so much time left to get where you want to be.  Remember, to be realistic…chances of loosing 10lbs in a week in pretty slim.

achieve your goals

Make an effort every day to meet your goal, and keep track of your progress. You could record one positive effort you have made every day in a notebook or tracking journal. Focusing on baby steps will help the goal seem more attainable.

achieve your goals

Prioritize your time and effort. If your goal is more important to you than your T.V. show, then be willing to put aside some of your ‚Äúextras‚ÄĚ or unnecessary time draining activities to allow you the focus and time you need to complete your goal.

achieve your goals

Make it happen. The best way to get something done is to get up and do it.

So, what’s your goal for this month? …the next 6 months? …the next year? Right them in the comments below. This helps hold yourself accountable for actually achieving them, which has proven to be one of the most effective methods.