Last month, I received a comment on my Facebook page from some one who actually went and adopted one of the cats I photographed. It made my heart fill with joy! To know that the photos I take of these shelter cats actually inspire people to go visit them and adopt is AMAZING! I wish that would happen every month! So, here’s the latest group of kitties that are still looking for homes. They are currently available for adoption at the San Diego Humane Society Oceanside campus on Airport Rd. If your heart feels all warm and fuzzy inside after looking at these photos, go pay them a visit! Even if you don’t end up adopting, I can tell you from experience that they’ll at least enjoy the company 🙂
CATELYN – 253694
GRACIE – 228404
MISSY – 253152
KATSU – 252067
PORTER – 210146
MAI – 253550
LECHE – 253414
SOVA – 252044
POPPY – 250829
As a professional photographer, it’s important to seek creative opportunities and invest the time and energy into personal passion projects. Doing so can:
- enhance your knowledge of your craft
- provide a fresh perspective that translates into new ideas
- push you to challenge yourself, which promotes growth
- fulfill your need to express yourself creatively
Not to mention, in the case of this personal project, it also provides an excellent excuse to get out in the fresh air and enjoy some quality time and exercise with my pups 🙂 So, what’s the project?
MINT : Mornings In New Territory
Goal: Explore and photograph 10 dog-friendly locations in San Diego during the first few hours of the day.
- Explore new locations in San Diego
- Strengthen my photography skills by experimenting with unfamiliar lighting, equipment, and/or shooting techniques.
- Engage myself and my dogs in mental and physical activity
Rules & Guidelines:
- The location must be somewhere in San Diego that I’ve never been to before
- I’m only allowed to bring and use my 50mm lens
- Shooting must be done within 2 hours of sunrise.
- The location must be outside (it can be a trail, park, beach, etc)
MISSION MINT 1 : Santa Margarita Trail, Fallbrook
To kick off the Mission, I decided to head somewhere not too far from home, yet still uncharted territory. So, I packed our bags and headed to the Santa Margarita Trail in Fallbrook. Or so I thought…
I’m not sure where we went wrong, but we definitely did NOT end up where we intended on going. Instead, we found a random trail that was about 1/2 mile long, running through a hilly neighborhood. Despite the fact that it wasn’t the “correct” location, we walked the path anyways. It’s all about the adventure, right?
The morning light was beautiful! Especially given how the last few weeks started off with a thick layer of overcast pretty much every single day. Naturally, I was quite delighted to see actual sun rays peaking through the clouds. Me and the girls took some photos along the trail. There wasn’t much of anything exciting, but the were a few spots that provided a decent photo opp.
A little discouraged, but not completely deflated, we drove off after walking the entire 1 mile roundtrip (not quite enough for me to consider it a workout, but at least it was a bit of exercise). I decided to just head home because I knew we at least got a few good shots from the trail. Not more than a couple minutes into the drive home, I realized I had taken a wrong turn and had no idea where I was. Full disclaimer – I’m REALLY good at getting lost!
Before I was able to get too frustrated with myself for getting lost, we came across a bridge. And where there’s a bridge, there’s likely to be water! And then I saw it…a sweet, little river nestled away behind some brush. It was calling our names! I immediately found a spot to park, got the girls out of the car, and headed towards the water. It took a minute for us to find a way, but we did. And when we got there, it was glorious!
If there’s one thing I LOVE, it’s water. It’s literally my favorite thing on Earth. So, you can imagine my excitement when I saw this river. The girls were, of course, equally excited. I through off my shoes, grabbed my camera, and we all jumped in. It was heaven. They had so much fun splashing around, and I was loving the morning light peaking through the trees, reflecting on the water, and feeling the wet sand between my toes. I couldn’t believe we found this secret little gem.
- Location: Unknown (somewhere near the Santa Margarita Trail, Fallbrook)
- Location Type: Trail, Riverbed
- Time: 6:15am – 8:00am
- Lighting: Partly Cloudy
- Equipment: Canon 5D Mark lll, Canon 50m F1.4
- Notes: Shooting backlit through the trees works as expected. The morning light tends to give a magenta or red hue – not the typical yellowish tone of images with afternoon warmth. I may have slightly overcompensated for this in post-production.
CONCLUSION: When something doesn’t go as planned, keep your chin up and stay positive because you never know what might be waiting for you just around the corner 😉
Don’t miss an adventure…follow #MissionMINT on Instagram
The minute I met Coconut, I was in LOVE! She is the sweetest, softest little ball of fluff. When I came over to her house for the Consultation, she instantly greeted me with joy. Maybe she smelt the treats in my bag, maybe she’s just that sweet to everyone (probably both). Either way, she makes you want to curl up a cuddle with her 🙂
For the photo shoot, we headed to the beautiful, fun nook in San Diego known as Seaport Village. This quaint little dog-friendly part of town is big on the tourist attraction list, and offers all kinds of cute little spots to take pictures, as well as a few restaurants with pet-friendly patios, such as Edgewater Grille. Not to mention, that view with all that water (yes, please!).
We started the session by climbing the rocks near the water. I always like to start sessions with the more active shots so that the pups are more rested towards the end of the shoot when we do the more relaxed posed shots. Coconut had no fear, climbing all over the rocks and nearly jumped in the water. Luckily, she didn’t because her white-as-snow coat would have been a
hot wet mess had that happened.
Our next stop was the duck pond. I was so excited to take Coconut to see the duckies because she’d never seen any before and I knew she would love it. As expected, she was in awe of her newfound furry friends. After a few minutes, she muscled up the courage to cross the fence line to get a closer look. Naturally, I embraced breaking the rules in order to get a good shoot. My favorite image from this part of the shoot is the one where she’s on the bridge looking into the water where 7 ducks were swimming for her amusement.
After visiting the ducks, we took a little “picnic” break in the grass. Coconut wasn’t quite ready to settle down yet, but we lucked out because she found a random old bully stick that another dog had left behind, and she was instantly fixated on it. Hello new bribe tool! As long as I had that bully stick in my hand, she would stare at me and do whatever we wanted. It was pretty awesome…and hilarious! Of course, in appreciation of all her hard modeling, we let her enjoy her super stale treat for a few minutes here and there.
It’s pretty difficult for me to pick a favorite photo from this session, but if I had to choose one, it would probably be this one where Coconut’s parents are kissing her and she is clearly loving it! I mean, it’s just pure joy for all three of them. Simply precious!
With stale treat in hand, we continued through Seaport Village to our next picturesque spot. There’s this little bench that’s surrounded by ivy, and when I was location scouting here (go behind-the-scenes in the location-scouting video), I knew I had to shoot at this spot. The way the ivy hangs is so enchanting, making for some really magical moments. By now, Coconut was getting the hang of this modeling thing, and was really working the camera for these shots.
For the last stop on our adventure, I figured “what better way to wrap up the session than with a sweet, cold treat from our friends over at Ben & Jerry’s?” Coconut had never had ice-cream before, but that didn’t stop her from inhaling the double scoop we got. I’m not even sure her parents got much for themselves, but we were all having a blast trying to keep the ice-cream from melting all over everyone. Coconut had no problem appointing herself the task of drip control – haha!
This pet family photography session was so much fun, and we got so many great images from it. During their Show-n-Shop appointment, Coconut’s parents had a somewhat difficult time choosing which images to use for a wall gallery because they loved them all. Not a bad conflict to be in if you ask me 😉 With the help of my handy dandy wall gallery design software, we were able to create a beautiful display for their bedroom featuring all their favorite images. They also purchased a custom album because they really did want all the images and albums are the best way to get them all.
Coconut didn’t seem too impressed with my wall gallery design, as she was more interested in finding the treats that she knew were in my purse. And because we took a few hours to design the perfect product order, she literally fell asleep with her paw in my purse (my Instagram fans were amused). Oh Coconut, you are too much, sweetie pie!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%!!
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!
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!
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)
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
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
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
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)
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.