Ares & Emzy Photography
Photographing Pets & Their People

Blog


RRoxana - Photographing for the Cover of a Book

There is no surprise—my website and portfolio has many more photographs of dogs and dogs with people than people alone. There are three reasons for this.

  1. If there is one thing I have learned about dogs and people with dogs is that they are always willing to pose and be photographed.

  2. I adore dogs, cats too, but cats are elusive to photograph…except for Pixie, she was super chill for my previous blog on iPhone versus DSLR photography.

  3. After adopting two retired military working dogs, I have come to know, love and appreciate all things and all people associated with “military working dogs” (MWDs). To that end, I volunteer to take photographs for the families who foster a puppy through the Lackland Air Force Base Military Working Dog Breeding Program. These great Americans take a 6 or 7 week-old Belgian Malinois puppy, raise this high-energy creature while teaching the pup “house breaking”, basic obedience, and socialization skills around people/crowds only to return their charge to the military at 7 months of age. The now adolescent dog can be trained to be, what the K9 community affectionately calls, a “fur missile”. If you are reading this and are asking yourself, “how do I get to foster a puppy” check out this link to the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Breeding Program Facebook Info Page.

As a result of this affiliation with the MWD community Lyon’s Press asked me to capture the photograph of a MWD puppy for the cover of a book written by Jeff Kamen called, “Warrior Pups” that will be in print in September 2017. Here is the a great You Tube video about the making of the book and the final image for the book cover of MWD puppy RRoxana.

warrior_pups.final8x8.indd

Let me share some lessons learned, and “puppy photo session bloopers” from this great opportunity:

1.  If possible, communicate directly with the art director to determine what they are “looking for”. I had a wonderful relationship with the publisher and art director at Lyon’s Press. They provided the guidance that the puppy needed to be very young and have the most common Malinois coloring – tan body with a black snout. They also required that the puppy be wearing the iconic neckerchief, and ideally the photograph of the puppy should be in a background that would appear military. 

Deltuva_Janet_6.jpg

2. Take several test shots and send these to the art director for feedback. In the case of this book cover, the publisher knew how they wanted the puppy to appear on the cover, but they were not certain of the background. My first photos session included photographs of MWD puppy, RRoxana,  in an outdoor/grassy environment and several in the MWD training setting. After additional feedback from the art director, I offered to photograph RRoxana in the studio with a white backdrop so they could extract her image and place her into any setting they would like.

3.  Have an assistant for the studio session. I was fortunate to have a true dog lover as my assistant, Jacquelyn Smelter of JacquelynK Photography. She was instrumental in getting RRoxana to gaze into the camera. 

4. Have a shot list with several lens options and follow it! Once again Jackie was key to successfully following a shot list. For RRoxana’s studio photo session used the 70-200 mm, F/2.8 and the 85 mm, F/1.8. 

5. Shoot in a burst mode, at a high shutter speed—puppies move …a lot! For the final shot, we opted to place my military boots into the scene. The foster family managed RRoxana on a leash. RRoxana, a typical puppy, noticed the boot laces and tore into the laces with awesome puppy enthusiasm and we had “the shots”! 

6. Plan on using editing skills in Photoshop. After capturing several good shots with RRoxana looking directly into the camera I needed to remove the leash, puppy dander, link and stray puppy hairs on the scarf.

7. And the best part of photographing MWD puppies…you get to hug and snuggle them!

Potential select-22-4.jpg

2. Take several test shots and send these to the art director for feedback. In the case of this book cover, the publisher knew how they wanted the puppy to appear on the cover, but they were not certain of the background. My first photos session included photographs of MWD puppy, RRoxana,  in an outdoor/grassy environment and several in the MWD training setting. After additional feedback from the art director, I offered to photograph RRoxana in the studio with a white backdrop so they could extract her image and place her into any setting they would like.