For people and for dogs is very similar.
Sometimes my people, (I could have said dogs here) have definite ideas about what they want to do. With people it is important to make them feel at ease and relaxed. The same goes for dogs too. Portrait lighting for people is part art, part psychology and a little science. The best images of people that I have taken are when the person(s) I am working with are themselves and not thinking about getting their picture taken. I for some reason can do this pretty well. (Probably from directing and guiding 2,000 photoshoots with some very talented photographers didn’t hurt either). For dogs there may be a window in the guest room that “Holly” likes to look out. Or when “Leah” is on her bed she sleeps upside down with her tongue out. Or I really like how “Zia” runs; she is so graceful and elegant. Other times they look to me for guidance. (You know that look your dog does “the frozen thing,” not sure what to do, or where they are suppose to go.) In either case, it’s my job to help that person, the dog or you and your dog communicate the special magic wherever that may be in whatever form that may be. Once we get a feel for what we what to capture and I have a chance to get to know the person, or see the dog and the relationship you have with your dog, we start the process. I prefer to do this with you at a place that is comfortable and face-to-face, if this is not possible we can do this on the phone.
Here are some but not all of the things we discuss. We talk about the location(s), styling, time-of-day, props (favorite toy, etc.), wardrobe (clothing), how many people or how many dogs? I don’t charge you if you have more than one dog. If you have say 5 dogs we may need to talk a little. (With people it is the same). The pre-production meeting is the mechanics of the photo-session – what we will need to tell the story.
(The day we take pictures) Being nervous is fine. It’s normal. But your dog is looking to you for how to behave. Being confident and happy go along way in helping your dog relax and do well being photographed. Timing is critical for location and interior shots. Natural light moves the way it does. I can’t control the sun, but I can control what is the best time to shoot using the sun as a primary light-source. If we agree that the best time to shoot this is 6:40 pm –we need to be set-up and ready to shoot exactly at 6:40pm. All participants need to be there prior to 6:40pm. I will let you know how much time is needed before. This is based on the elements in play needed for the shoot. (Set-up time, traffic, weather, parking are all part of this planning/pre-production aspect also). A well prepared and smooth shooting day allow for the magic to happen and things to flow smoothly. continued…