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.
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!
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.
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 🙂
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 Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.
Calling all Pit Bulls and their parents…we want YOU! I’m currently casting Pit Bull models for my next campaign in honor of Pit Bull Awareness month (in October). By participating in this model call, you will help promote my campaign to support two wonderful Pit Bull advocacy groups in San Diego, SD Pittie Parents and Passion For Pitties.
Send inquiries with a photo of your pet to firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, 8/31/17.
Must be available to join us for the photo shoot at Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve on Sunday, 9/3/17.
Why submit your dog?
1. The photo shoot is FREE. Yep, it won’t cost you a thing. All you have to do is bring yourself and your dog.
2. Professional photo shoots are pure entertainment for you and your dog. It’s an experience like no other.
3. You won’t leave empty handed – You’ll receive a FREE 5×7 print, as well as a free custom mobile app featuring your dog’s images from the photo shoot. This is a fun and easy way to brag about your pet’s modeling skills on social media. And you’ll be able to purchase prints of any of the images from the session via an online gallery.
4. You’ll be contributing to a greater cause – helping to raise awareness and support for two of San Diego’s biggest Pit Bull advocacy groups, SD Pittie Parents and Passion For Pitties.
What’s the catch?
There’s no catch – the only catch we believe in is the kind a dog does when playing fetch. With that said, there are some requirements:
1. Your dog does NOT need to be a purebred Pit Bull, but should at least have distinguishable Pit Bull traits.
2. You must be willing to be in at least a few of the photos with your dog.
3. Limit 2 dogs per person.
4. You must be available for 1 of the 7 time slots (8am, 9am, 10am, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm) on Sunday 9/3/17 for the scheduled photo shoot at Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.
5. You must submit a photo of your dog to email@example.com by Thursday, 8/31/17.
6. No previous modeling experience required.
Increase your chances of being selected by completing this survey now!
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!!