Part 2b – Scruffy Dog Mentoring

Ono_photo_blackMy 2nd full day with Scruffy Dog Photography included three models that were fantastic, but more on that later.  Since model shoots didn’t occur until about 4:30pm, Illona and I spent most of the day going over my photos from the day before.  That’s when I realized that I had taken WAY too many photos, especially of Illona’s dog in the water with his favorite toy.  Honestly, I probably wasted nearly 1/3 of the card – over 150 at least – on such shots.  “That’s a lesson for you,” said Illona.  Many of the photos were not in focus and we went over why that might be the case.   But I did manage to have a few decent shots, which I shared in the previous blog.  We then discussed marketing, specifically pricing.  She gave me great ideas on how to price my products.

4:30pm came around quickly and the first client with their two dogs arrived.  We initially went to a city setting.  I sometimes think that one has to be in a beautiful floral setting, well-manicured yard, lovely architecture…. not so!  This was located in an alley.   Below are photos of the two dogs – absolutely beautiful Shar Peis.  Charlotte, the light colored one, is a senior, probably about 12.  Stella is still very young; I believe she is under 1 year old.  By the way, as I started taking photos at this location, my camera suddenly froze.  I could not press down on the shutter and there was an error message on my camera’s control panel.  Well, I thought, certainly in line with the drama I went through getting to Canada.  Karma again?  Illona suggested I change lenses, but that didn’t work.  Then, totally out of frustration, I pressed the shutter again and – voila! – back to normal.


We then drove to a more nature-type setting.  One photo below shows Illona taking a photo of Charlotte and, then, my take on the same set-up.  Since we women don’t like our behinds shown in any kind of photo, out of respect, I cropped the photo to show Illona’s back.  The location was rife with mosquitoes.  As I had been instructed by Illona, I brought mosquito repellent and lathered it all over – except on my face since I didn’t want to put it on my hands and then touch the camera or the dogs.  Guess where I got bitten?  Yep – and I had those bites on my face for at least 3-4 days!  Canadian mosquitoes are very aggressive.

Illona_CharlotteCharlotteAs we were coming to the end of our time with these two great dogs, the next client came, an absolutely energetic, but very well-behaved/trained, Border Collie named Goose.  Goose’s owner happened to be a dog sitter/trainer, and she got Goose into position, put him on a hold and then released him for action shots. Below are two of my photos, one of Goose among some wild flowers and then him running down a path.

Goose_flowers-1Goose_runningJust as I took too many of Illona’s dog in the water with his favorite toy the previous day, I also took too many action shots.  Typical me, I started shooting as soon as the owner released the dog, way up the path.  Should have waited until he was about 1/2 way down the path to begin shooting.  Another pet photographer I also admire, Charlotte Reeves from Australia, once wrote that taking action shots is an art; it takes a lot of practice.  The above action shot is, honestly, the best one that I got, and even that surprised me!  Also, starting when the dog begins to run, and just depressing the shutter, can fill up the buffer fast so that you don’t have any “juice” as the dog comes closer.

My days at Scruffy Dog came to an end and it was totally worth the time and money put into it, despite a dramatic beginning in Waterloo, Iowa!  Here I am, two months later, and I’m still digesting what I learned.  I highly recommend this mentoring for any aspiring pet photographer.  Illona really knows her stuff, is confident, but is very patient, especially with a neophyte like me.  Not sure I’ll be as fantastic a photographer as she, but I know I will push myself to become the best that I can.  Honestly, while I love to take photos of pets, I always stress before a shoot.  Usually wondering how it’s going to turn out, whether the photos will be acceptable, whether they will be in focus…  mainly stuff that’s important to think about, but shouldn’t be losing sleep over.  I took an e-photography course several years ago and really stressed out.  I relayed that to the instructor.  She wisely told me to stop trying to be a perfectionist every time I depress the shutter and enjoy myself.  Unless you take the picture, you’ll never know how it’s going to turn out (sounds like something Yogi Berra would have said).

For those of you who took the time to read my 3-part installment on my mentoring experience, I appreciate it.




6 thoughts on “Part 2b – Scruffy Dog Mentoring”

Comments are closed.