The Evolution of Baxter's Christmas Portraits & Behind the Scenes at a Dog Session

Poor Baxter, yet again he was forced to deal with me wanting more photographs of him. George and I had taken Baxter out to Jefferson Community Park a few weeks ago, dressed him up in a sweater and scarf and did his photos for our Christmas cards this year. Here is one of my favorites from our quick session at the park. My poor dog, he probably wondered what he was getting into when I started dressing him for his adventure. On a side note: you can find the cutest dog sweaters, scarfs and other fun accessories from Moochie & Co. at Easton Town Center.

dog in sweater and scarf for holiday photography in park with fall leaves

After photographing the Vets 4 Pets event at The Ohio State University, I really wanted to take Baxter out (again) for more photos, this time at Mirror Lake. George and I packed up the dog and headed down to OSU for round two of his portraits. No clothing or accessories this time for Baxter ~ just him and his cuteness.

Shame on me, I didn’t follow my pre-session suggestions for my own dog’s portraits. Needless to say he was pretty ramped up and had way more energy than usual by the time we arrived on campus. He was overwhelmed with the people, ducks and new surroundings. It was time for me to breakout treats, whistles and strange noises to get his attention. It was not working, so onto Plan B — we walked away from Mirror Lake and headed to the amphitheater on the south slope of the ravine. No ducks or bystanders nearby and it worked, Baxter was a content dog. What a difference a quick walk made and I finally had his full attention.  After we finished at the amphitheater, we went back to the lake and he was much calmer for a few more photographs.

Below are some of the out-takes from his portraits. Believe me, it’s not always sit, stay and be pretty! There can be a lot of work (and bribes) involved to get dogs to cooperate. Many clients mention to me that there’s no way their dog will behave for portraits. No worries, I have enough tricks up my sleeve to get them to look at my way for their portraits and I deal with whatever they have to throw at me. I’ve worked with dogs that are super high-energy and also some of the most shy dogs out there and haven’t had any problems. I even had one dog that wandered into a pond for a drink of water and came out soaked before our session even started! I love dogs, so I’m always up for working with whatever personality they have. I also want to add that even though you don’t see many leashes in my pet portraits, unless we’re at the dog’s home or other enclosed area, I almost always photograph with their leash on. A little Photoshop work after the fact keeps the dogs safe and the owners sane for their sessions! I want both pets and pet parents to be comfortable while we’re on-location and if that means a little extra work for me to retouch the photographs, that’s perfectly fine!

the various stages of perfecting a dog portrait

While exposure and getting the shot in camera is important, a little bit of post-processing once the images get to my computer really help them pop and to get rid of any distractions that appear at the location. Below is a before and after of some of the retouching I do on a typical pet session. There’s always some Photoshop work after each session for me to tweak the images to give them my special touch.

before and after of a dog portrait with photoshop retouching

And here’s the winner for this year’s Christmas card. I decided to try these new cards from my supplier with a fun dye-cut and I just love them. And with so many paper choices I opted for the linen paper because of I love the rich look and feel of the texture.

Custom designed holiday cards with snowflakes in blue and red with dog portrait

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  • Heather November 28, 2010 - 11:56 am

    Danielle, your work is BEAUTIFUL and I love your card!! I did the same die cut this year for our personal card. Drop me your address and I’ll send ya one.

  • @mackphoto November 30, 2010 - 9:57 pm

    Danielle, Great post. Enjoyed the behind the scenes look at how you pull these beautiful animal shots together. And the cards are reallly nice.

  • Ellen {Kalamazoo MI photographer} December 14, 2010 - 7:34 pm

    Love seeing the anatomy of a session- so fun to get a peek at what goes on before, during and after. Your cards are just gorgeous!

A Dog Loving Photographer Living In Buckeye Country