Happy Dancing

When a highly respected fellow photographer asks you to cross the Atlantic to photograph her dogs, you happy dance on the spot with a squeal of ‘hell yeah’! – Right?! That is a moment-by-moment account of what happened when Barbara reached out to me last year. So, we packed our bags and jetted to Illinois, USA.

Guess who waited for us at the airport? An adorable Frenchie pup that answers to the name of Grizwald.

From the first moment, when he jumped onto my lap and gleefully nibbled on my chin, (a trait he has held onto to this day!) my heart was his. The little darling covered me in kisses the whole way home, right until we got into the house where his sibling’s Ping (a terrier mix) and Fern (a beautiful Bernese) waited at the door.

Immediately Fern attempted to bring Grizzy into line as he strutted about the kitchen, keen to keep all eyes on him! Meanwhile, Ping nestled her head into our laps, determined to steal the spotlight from her wild little brother and claim her place as the golden girl.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Let me tell you – choosing a spot to photograph these three beauties was… a different kind of challenge. The back garden is BEAUTIFUL and its acres of trees were filled with deer and chipmunks. I felt like Snow White, lost in a magical forest. Just TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. So, where do you photograph in all this idyll?

(Believe it or not, I’m pretty choosy when it comes to selecting locations. There’s a right spot and a wrong spot in every place. Yes, even in a Snow White paradise, my brain’s working overtime to select just the right spot to photograph these amazing dogs.)

The area at the back of the house turned out to be the perfect spot for a portrait of all three of them together. Ping has got herself quite a reputation for being on ‘chipmunk patrol’ – so we had to keep a close eye on her.

But wait. There was that little issue of Ping, chasing the chipmunks. (Did you know terriers love to chase rodents?!) And puppy Grizwald, getting constantly distracted by, well, everything! (Puppies are adorable and also flighty.) That’s just a typical day-in-the-life, though, when working with multiple dogs in gorgeous outdoor settings. And, it’s not our first rodeo. We got strategizing immediately.

Keeping Things Under Control

To help keep the dogs in one spot we dragged the garden table to our spot in the enclosed decking area and popped the three of them on top. Fern was surprised – she’s never been invited to jump up on the table her humans ate at!

To compete with the wildlife distractions, I came out with my own range of squeaky sounds (did I mention I pack dog and duck whistles in my carry-on?) while Michael worked his dog whispering magic to keep them on the table.

Now that, my friends, is how magical doggie portraits are made!

It takes a lot of planning, strategizing, and quacking like a duck. A lot of treats, a lot of cuddles, and some well-timed shutter clicking. I absolutely adored Barbara, her lovely husband John, and her pack. I’m so grateful she asked us to travel to her beautiful part of the world to create these special moments for them as a celebration of their fur-family.

And just think – without social media, we would never have had a chance to connect. Maybe you’re local to me in the UK or perhaps you are like Barbara halfway across the world reading this message. No matter where you are, let’s connect and talk dog.

You can find out more about our Worldwide Travel Sessions here.

Behind the Scenes Video