One of my favorite things about being a professional pet photographer is discovering new locations to shoot at. Here in San Diego, we are so blessed to live in such a beautiful city with so many different types of areas that are perfect for taking photos. So, when Hudson & Nickel’s mom, Dorte, suggested we do her San Diego pet family portraits at UCSD, I couldn’t wait to see what the campus had in store for us (it had been about 15 years since I’d visited there). She specifically choose this location because she works there, which I thought was a perfect reason. One might assume she works as a teacher or other administrative position, but to my surprise (and probably yours as well), she’s actually responsible for taking care of the lab rats. Crazy, right?! Crazy cool! Imagine having a job where you get to take care of those little furry friends every day. I wonder if Hudson & Nickel are aware of their mom’s unique profession, and what they think about her playing with rats all day. Haha!
As with any pet photo shoot, I arrived about an hour early so that I could scope out all the best spots to photograph. I quickly realized how beautiful the UCSD campus truly is. The students and faculty must love spending days there. We started the session in a quiet little nook that was adorned with bamboo. It was a must for Dorte, and not a bad backdrop if you ask me. It was also a great spot for the dogs to get acclimated to the situation. From there, we moved on to what ended up being my favorite spot…a cozy courtyard that had recently received a fresh fall of leaves. The colors of the trees was spectacular! I seriously could have photographed in that area all day.
Because it was Sunday, the campus was virtually vacant. This really helped keep the distractions to a minimum and allowed Hudson & Nickel to focus on mom and me. They were so well behaved…sitting nicely, looking at the camera when instructed, listening carefully to mom, and just taking it all in. Dorte had cautioned me that Nickel can sometimes be weary of strangers, but she did a fantastic job and honestly never stopped smiling 😀 Hudson isn’t much of a smiler, as he portrays himself more to be the strong silent type. Typical behavior for a male surrounded by ladies. But don’t let that fool you…this guy is all about giving big, giant, slobbery kisses.
The next spot we ventured to during our San Diego pet family portrait session at UCSD was a 2 story wall that was completely covered from top to bottom with luscious green ivy. I truly get amazed when I see nature interact with buildings in a way like this. Simply gorgeous!
To wrap up the session, we decided to take a short stroll through the Eucalyptus woods. I was in love with the way the sun peered through the trees, while the dogs were in love with all the various smells. They were getting tired by this point, so we stopped to rest for a bit. I watched and photographed as this surreal family moment unfolded in front of me. Seeing those dogs show their appreciation for each other and for their mom was absolutely heart-warming. It’s these moments that make me love my job and the clients I get to work with.
I had such a great time with these three! When Hudson & Nickel saw me again at their Show-n-Shop appointment, they were all about giving me kisses. They made me feel so special, like I truly bonded with them. Dorte loved all the photos and ended up getting a framed 3-image series for herself, along with some framed gift prints for her mom and sisters. What a great gift for the holidays!
(product photo here)
Me and my girls, Skyy & Rain, embarked on our Mission MINT (Morning In New Territory) journey in September 2017 with the goal of exploring and photographing 10 dog-friendly locations in San Diego during the first few hours of the day. And with the purpose of: strengthening my photography skills by experimenting with unfamiliar lighting, equipment, and/or shooting techniques, as well as engaging the three of us in mental and physical activity. This month’s Mission MINT adventure took place at one of the few places in San Diego where you can enjoy a 360 degree view…Double Peak Park in San Marcos. As the highest peak in North County San Diego, Double Peak Park offers something for everyone to enjoy.
MISSION MINT 2 : Double Peak Park, San Marcos
I checked the weather report the night before to see if the sun would make an appearance that morning. It confirmed it would be cloudy, but I was determined to embark on our adventure anyways. I had heard about Double Peak Park and it’s magnificent 360 degree views from a few friends of mine, so my curiosity wouldn’t let me delay going any longer. Me and the girls woke up bright and early at 5:00am to ensure we got there in time to see the sunrise. What I thought would be a 45 minute drive only took 30 minutes…funny how there’s actually a time when there’s no traffic.
We arrived at 5:35am. Needless to say, we had a decent amount of time before the sun was expected to come up. While waiting for the sun, cars upon cars starting showing up. I was quite surprised to see at least 7 cars and a few people on foot eager and ready for their sunrise hikes. High school kids still wearing their pajamas, local home owners walking their dogs, and a few who preferred to relax in their warm car with their morning coffee.
The 200-acre area itself is pretty cool in that you can choose to hike around for hours or drive straight to the top to relax and enjoy the view. At the top of the hill is an amphitheater, restrooms, a playground, viewing areas, and picnic tables…perfect for a quick family trip, a romantic spot for couples, or an easily accessible location for seniors to enjoy. There’s 4.7 miles of trails that run up and down the hills, around the bends, and through secret brush areas. And there’s plenty of great little nooks to take a break and soak in the view.
Whether sunrise or sunset, you get them both at Double Peak Park. Even on a cloudy day like the one we had, the views are breathtaking and a must-see for any local San Diegan or tourist. We will definitely be returning to this cool spot, hopefully with some sunshine to play with 🙂
- Location: Double Peak Park, San Marcos
- Location Type: Trail, Paved Road
- Time: 6:00am – 7:45am
- Lighting: Mostly Cloudy
- Equipment: Canon 5D Mark lll, Canon 50m F1.4
CONCLUSION: Despite the lack of an actual sunrise, you can still make the best of the adventure. Mother Nature will do whatever she wants, and just because she doesn’t give you exactly what you’re looking for, that’s no reason to not enjoy the moment and find other ways to achieve you’re goal.
Join the adventure…follow #MissionMINT on Instagram @alipetersonphoto
What could be better than spending some quality bonding time outdoors with your Pittie, getting beautiful images for your home, AND supporting a local non-profit that supports Pit Bulls? Because we LOVE Pitties so much, we’re donating 50% of ALL session fees that are booked during National Pit Bull Awareness month to our friends at Passion For Pitties or San Diego Pittie Parents.
Here’s how it works:
- Review the Experience, Session Details/Investment, and Products pages of this website (alipeterson.com) to learn more about how the photo session works and what kinds of products you can order.
- Call, email, or submit a contact form to let us know you’re interested.
- Schedule a complimentary in-home Consultation to decide if you’d like to book.
- Book your session (this is typically done during the Consultation).
- Enjoy your images, products, and the fact that you helped support the Pitties!
Here’s the fine print:
- ONLY sessions that are booked during October 2017 qualify.
- The photo shoot itself does NOT have to take place during the month of October, however, the appointment MUST be booked (with payment made) before November 1st.
- This is NOT a mini session. A full session must be booked.
- You may choose which non-profit you’d like to donate to. Options include Passion For Pitties and San Diego Pittie Parents. If you do not wish to choose, the fee will be split 50/50.
- You do NOT have to own a Pit Bull to participate. We accept support from all breeds 🙂
We all know how adorable your pet is in photos. Let’s face it…the first thing you do when you tell some one yo have a pet is pull out your phone so you can show them a photo, right? But what about you?
Do you look at photos of yourself and think “I look awkward…my hair looks funny…my smile looks unnatural…”
Well, have no worries, as a professional photographer I encounter this with people all the time. And that’s why I’m here to help. Next time you’re worried about looking good in photos, try these 6 easy tips that can take you from unflattering to simply gorgeous, darling 😉
I spent the last few days holding my boy while he made his way into the stars. Although unexpected, he went as he should have, warm in his bed with his family by his side. He took a piece of my heart with him, leaving me without words. But for him, I will try to be strong. I will do my best to remember his joyous life and everything he’s taught me instead of consuming my mind with sad thoughts. I will forever miss my buddy, my sweet pea, my Utah.
I complied a short video piece to celebrate his life and share who he was. This creative outlet also usually helps me attempt to get rid of some of the sad thoughts that consume my mind in these kind of situations. In doing this, I can reflect on what Utah’s purpose was, what he taught me, and why his life ended when and how it did.
At the age of 9, I feel his life was cut short. But, I wouldn’t have changed the way he passed. Two days before, we took him to the ER because he wasn’t acting like himself. He seemed lethargic…dragging his nails when he walked, laying in beds that he normally didn’t lay in, not caring to bark at the mailman…just not being Utah. So we didn’t hesitate for a minute before deciding to take him to the ER. After a quick examination, it was absolutely clear to the doctor that he had Hemangiosarcoma. This extremely common tumor found in dogs had developed on Utah’s spleen and ruptured. Once ruptured, internal bleeding occurs, and it’s pretty much a death sentence.
We were given the option to do invasive surgery to remove the spleen, attempt to remove the contaminated blood, and hope it doesn’t come back. But the odds of that succeeding are slim to none, and even then he’d likely only survive for another 3-6 months. Our other option was to let it take his life. We opted for the latter. With a window of 1-4 days, we decided it’d be best for Utah to go home so he can die comfortably with his family by his side.
He grew weaker by the hour, struggling with every little move. His eyes began to tell me that he knew what was happening to him (the image here is the last one I took of him, just hours before he passed).
We hunkered down for nearly 3 days, just trying to make sure he was comfortable. The lights were kept low, the Lavender oil was diffusing, the soothing sound of the rain creeped in through the window, the fireplace crackling, and “Planet Earth” playing softly on tv…it was as relaxed as it could be. We took our turns snuggling with him, knowing it would be our last time. And then, he went peacefully to sleep and let go.
The anticipation of knowing that your dog is going to die doesn’t make it any easier when it happens. I can say that I’m grateful we did know and that we were able to send him off peacefully. And that makes me happy for him. My heart aches when I think of all the things I love about him…his smile and the way his eyes got squinty when he smiled real big, his giant head that was way too big for his body when he was a pup, his soft fur, the way his ears flopped in the wind during car rides, the noises he made in his sleep, how he’s the only one in the house that never snored, the way he’d clench his butt cheeks when he knew I was going to pinch them, how much he loved his ball, how he could swim for hours, how excited he got about doing anything outside, and how he could always make me smile no matter what.
But, I need to be strong and choose to take what he’s given me and move forward. He’s taught me about being grateful, that things could be worse, to enjoy the little things in life, and that you shouldn’t take anyone you love for granted because you never know when their last day will come.