I’ve always felt very strongly that the best way to change the world is by volunteering.
My father had a saying that has stayed with me my whole life….”Contribute what you can, when you can and how you can, whether it be money, time or service…YOU can ALWAYS make a DIFFERENCE. Even the smallest gestures can change someone’s world.” Dad was very wise and I miss him so much. (but that’s another blog post)
A few weekends ago, I held my sixth annual Valen-Tails Photo Fundraiser for Paw Placement of Northern Arizona! I got to meet over 40 sweet and cuddly new furry friends and some of the most amazing pet owners in the world.
Even though the fundraiser just ended, I’m already missing my new friends. Nothing makes me happier than spending the day with animals.
I’m happy to announce that we raised $1,855.00 for this organization to help them continue their important work in the Northern Arizona region.
Currently, Paw Placement of Northern Arizona is working towards bringing a 21st Century Shelter to our area. If you live in Flagstaff, you know we need it! Please read about their vision on their website.
Pet Photography Tips
I have been called a “pet whisperer” by some very kind friends. But I will admit, I do have a special relationship with animals.
When photographing people’s pets, I’m always asked, “How do you do it?”
Here are some of my favorite pet photography tips and some of my favorite photos from the very special weekend.
Use these five pet photography tips when you are trying to capture a special moment with your furry loved one.
1. Focus on the Eyes
You know what they say, “Eyes are the Window to the Soul.” Well, that is especially true for our animal friends.
It’s the eyes that make any portrait memorable. And that is even more true for your pets. Pet eyes are full of wonderful expression and successful pet portrait focuses the attention there.
2. Let Their Personality Shine Through
You know your pet and you should trust what you know. The very best photos showcase the true character and personality of the subject and this holds true for your pet.
Let your animal play, yawn, or even dress up. Get the perfect image out of your head and let the favorite furry subject redefine purrrfect.
3. Surprise Them
You can’t expect your pet to wait for you to be ready to take the shot. Instead, let them continue to play, while you get ready.
Once your camera is focused and your animal is in the frame, call his name, or make a strange sound he’s never heard before and click. The surprise will catch him off guard and give you a few seconds to capture something special.
4. Go to Them
The best photos will come when your pet feels comfortable. Instead of calling him to you, try going to him.
Get down on his level, look him in the eyes and show him your love. That is probably the most important tip I have.
5. Be Patient
When your pet is excited by a new toy or some other excitement, it is often difficult to get the perfect photo.
But when your patient and you let your furball settle down, he will relax and you will end up with a much better shot.
In the end, if you want to capture great photos of your pet, remember they are your people. Let them be themselves and focus on them, not necessarily trying to capture the photo.
In closing, I just want to say Valen-tales is my absolute favorite event of the year. The fact that I can help raise money for a worthy organization while having fun with friends and their tribe is a privilege and pure joy.
Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the cruelty of the world. I can’t even turn on social media anymore without being bombarded of heinous crimes, international tragedy and unmentionable thing humans are capable of doing to one another and other innocent beings. I’ve been known to break out in tears at my desk due to a video where I should have never pressed “play”. But then, something wonderful usually happens if I look just a little closer, and try and find the goodness that I all know we’re capable of. Sometimes if I’m lucky, I get to meet a person, face to face, whose soul is shining so bright with so much love for the creatures of the earth that it makes me cry once again, but instead of sorrow, it’s tears of hope and joy. Maryann is one of those people. As soon as we pulled up to her gorgeous and serene property, we were overwhelmed by all the love radiating from her and her sweet animal friends. From the chickens, cats, dogs and amazing horses, you could almost feel the heartbeats of all them in unison, thumping out the care, joy and magnitude of love for each other.
Maryann hired us to photograph her aging horse, Joe, now 28, who spent his younger days as a show horse. There’s no more competition for Joe now, he’s enjoying his retirement on a beautiful property south of Sedona filled with lots of friends and sweet green pastures. Joe’s the kind of horse you can fall in love with right away. Those soulful eyes were filled with so much love, appreciation and happiness for life that I could have stared at them forever. We also got to photograph his companion, Matsi, who was charming and beautiful and had us laughing out loud at her love for the camera! And then there was Huck the German Shepherd, a sweetheart whom loves sticks as much as he loves his mom Maryann.
We so enjoyed creating these memories for you Maryann. Thank you for adding so much love and goodness to this world.
John called us a couple of weeks ago for a pet photography session with his dog Charlie in the beautiful location of the ponderosa pines of Flagstaff, Arizona. John and his family rescued Charlie 13 years ago at the Kingman Humane Society. At the time, they guessed Charlie’s age to be at least two. It was hard for Kristen and I to believe that this energetic dog was at least 15 years old! John’s family has definitely done a great job at helping him stay healthy with daily walks and runs in the forest. However, John knows that Charlie won’t be here forever. I think the only fault of our pets is that they don’t live as long as us. John wanted to schedule this session so that when the time comes for Charlie to cross the Rainbow Bridge, he’d have some great photographs of those big brown eyes staring back at him. We were so lucky to have been able to capture this special relationship between John and his best friend Charlie. ~ Melissa
“Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day. It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.”
― John Grogan, Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog
I love this project of helping animals find their forever homes. Not only have I met some of the sweetest animals, but I’ve also met some of the kindest people along my journey. Last week, our clients turned friends, Alicia and Kyle, took time out of their busy chiropractic clinic to bring this adorable beagle up to our Flagstaff studio to be photographed. Alicia and Kyle are fostering this sweet boy from the Arizona Beagle Rescue and wanted to show off to the world just how sweet and adorable this boy really is. I was kid-sitting my sweet “nieces” Sophie and Chloe that day too so I got to see just how much Dex loves children too.
I asked Alicia to write something about Dex, since she’s his foster mom and here’s what she had to say…
“Dexter is a sweet and sensitive boy that could use a home where he will get a lot of attention and a lot of snuggles! Overall he is mellow and easy going but he gets really excited about walks or car rides. He loves to be with his people but is tolerant of being alone after he cries just a bit about it. He is a stubborn guy that likes to do things on his schedule but he is easily tempted with a treat. He is good with other dogs and loves people. He loves cuddling on the couch, getting brushed, and getting his tummy rubbed. He has a few nervous habits including licking his feet and sucking on toys but with someone willing to boost his self esteem a bit and make sure he feels comfortable and secure he should be just fine! His sweet face makes him irresistible and easy to love.”
If you’d like more information about Dexter, please visit the Arizona Beagle Rescue website and view his Petango profile too. I know this boy is going to make a great addition to the family that is lucky enough to find him. Thank you for reading and for sharing. ~ Melissa