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Photography, Travel, What to expect

Style.  What exactly is it?  And why would I care when it comes to pet photography style is probably what you’re asking yourself right now.  Stay with me, I think I’ll be able to answer both of those questions.

As a photographer I am always learning.  Whether it’s a new editing skill, experimenting with studio lights, or even different genres of photography.  I love taking courses and workshops, meeting up with other people who share the same passions.  And the pet photography niche is no different, though it may be the friendliest group of photographers that I’ve ever met. 

A dark brown shepherd dog laying on a mossy forest floor

It’s also no secret that I’m obsessed with traveling.  My dream job is to work with amazing pets and their people around the world.  So when I found a pet photography specific workshop called StyleLab in Tasmania, Australia, that was accepting a limited number of photographers I knew I had to apply.  (Full disclosure, I was a little nervous about going to Tasmania because have you seen how big the spiders are there?  But I decided to apply anyway, that is how dedicated I am!)

A happy Australian Shepherd dog in front of a bright blue lake in Tasmania, Australia

What really appealed to me about this particular workshop was that it focused on the style aspect of photography.  So what is style?  It’s a representation of your unique vision of the world, a consistent feeling.  When it’s done correctly someone might see an image and instantly know who the photographer was. 

And the reason it’s important to have a pet photography style is so that a client knows exactly what they’re going to get.  If you want images that are natural and light and bright but your photographer loves a dark and moody edit someone is not going to be happy!

Close up portrait of a backlit multicolored Australian Shepherd with blue eyes

So my husband and I flew halfway around the world to meet up with an amazing group of pet photographers (instructors Charlotte Reeves, Craig Bullock, and Alicja Zmyslowska) and I had four intense days of classroom, photoshoots, experimentation, and feedback.  I was in heaven!!!  And did I mention that it was in Tasmania???  

Looking at the portfolio of images I had submitted the style descriptions the group came up with were whimsical, clean, natural, photojournalistic, and happy

Close up of a small shetland sheepdog sitting next to a row of lavender flowers

Breaking these down- to me whimsical is playful and fun but I think it’s also about capturing those personality quirks that make our pets so unique.  That tongue hanging out of the side of the mouth?  The crossed paws?  The play bow before your dog launches into a game?  A bright bowtie?  I love capturing those details.

The rear end of a labradoodle mid jump in a field of lavender

Clean and natural definitely speak to the lighting and clear backgrounds that I love.  Spending so many years in landscape and travel photography helped hone my ability to see how the light hits a subject.  And I’m obsessed with making sure the background plays a supporting role to your pet (yes, that means that I may ask you to move some furniture at a home session).   I also spend a lot of time editing final images to make sure any little distractions are removed. 

A woman plays tug of war with two australian shepherds in a forest

I think photojournalistic is another way to say unposed and relaxed.  Again, it’s letting your pet set the flow of the session so they can be themselves.  Don’t be surprised if I follow your pet around for at least the first part of our portrait session.  I’ll throw in some guidance and use all my tricks to get their attention, but it’s all about them.  Authentic would probably be another word that would apply, even though it’s completely overused these days.

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel standing in reeds next to a lake

Happy goes hand in hand with photojournalism in this case.  Because we’ve done our homework and understand what situation your pet is going to do best in, and because I have lots of both patience and treats the goal is to make sure that everyone is having a good time. And that includes you, no stress!  That happiness is going to come through in your images.  

A labradoodle with flopping ears runs toward the camera through a row of lavender plants at sunset

This is why you come to me as a specialized pet photographer.  Subtle body, ear, tail, and eye position indicates when a pet is uncomfortable.  If you don’t understand the body language your images might feel off, because that’s what the pet was telling you in various ways.

A sheltie dog peers between lavender plants in a field of lavender in Tasmania, Australia

During the workshop we also had the chance to explore our style a little bit and challenge ourselves.  I was a little surprised at the results.  I definitely found a few new themes that I want to explore further, like silhouettes and more dramatic lighting including some off camera flash.  I don’t think my style will change significantly but it’s always evolving and being refined.

So what kind of pet photography style appeals to you?  If you like the more formal, everything must be perfect and your pet must be at attention the whole time then  I’m probably not the right photographer for you.  Actually I’m sure I’m not the right person for you.  But if you like whimsy, fun, and want to celebrate what makes your pet unique then let’s chat!

Silhouette of a dog jumping in the air at sunset

In the end was flying halfway around the world to experiment and define my pet photography style worth it?  Hell yes.  Just getting to know the other photographers alone made it worth the trip.  And thankfully I didn’t see any of the monster spiders or venomous snakes.

But I think I’m also much more aware of my style and how to communicate that to my future clients as well.  My portfolio is a representation of that style.  There should be no surprises, you should know exactly the kind of images you’ll get with me.  

And if for any reason there is a disconnect or you aren’t happy with your images my portrait sessions come with a full money back guarantee.  So don’t wait, get on the schedule now.

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Dog, Park, Photo Session, What to expect

To leash or not to leash, that is the question.  Actually, it’s not really a question in my mind. It’s a pretty simple answer…..yes!    I have a lot of experience with dogs on leash photography, as you can see from the examples below.

A dachshund dog on the beach of Lake Michigan with a leash
A happy dachshund on the beach of Old Mission Lighthouse park in Traverse City

One of the concerns that many people have before booking a pet portrait session is that their dog needs to stay on a leash at all times.  They are afraid that all the images will have the leash in them or that they can’t get the type of images that they see on pet photography websites.

A golden doodle sitting on the path in Maybury State Park in winter
A beautiful doodle dog sitting on the path in a snowy forest

I have good news for you.  Your dog absolutely does not need to be off leash to get amazing images.  In fact, I would prefer that your pup stays on a leash unless we are in a fenced-in area.  

A sweet Cavalier King Charles Spaniel looks at the camera while posing on a stony landscape
A red and white Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy sitting on a stony landscape

I know some people are very comfortable with their dogs being off leash.  But some other considerations are other dogs or wildlife that may be in the area, even well-trained dogs are not perfect, and the fact that it is a state law to have your dog on leash.  So you can actually get a ticket/fine for not having your dog on leash.   

A black newfie puppy covered in sand on the beach with a red leash
A black newfoundland puppy covered in sand on the beach

My preference is always better safe than sorry, but especially when it comes to our pets.

Here’s how it works.  I can give you some simple instructions on how to hold the leash to minimize its appearance in an image.  I even have some special leashes that we can use. Then I do some photoshop magic to remove the leash in my editing process.  Viola, safe dog and happy pet parents 🙂

A golden doodle on leash on the beach at Fisherman's State Park in Michigan
A golden doodle on a stony beach along Lake Michigan with it's mouth open in summer

So, please don’t let the fact that your dog needs to be on a leash prevent you from having gorgeous images of you and your pet.  As part of our pre-session call we will discuss locations and behaviors so that we get exactly what you want without any risk.

Book your no-obligation call today by answering a few questions here.

An adorable Klee Kai dog on a snowy bridge in wearing a leash
A Klee Kai dog on the bridge in Lake St. Clair metropark in winter

As always, feel free to contact me at mail@PawdaciousPortraits.com if you have any questions regarding a pet portrait session.

So to conclude, yes, your dog can be on a leash during our pet photoshoot and you’ll still get gorgeous images to display in your home for years. 

A dachshund dog on a leash splashes through shallow water
A dachshund dog splashed through the shallow water of a lake
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Dog, Events, What to expect

What to expect at the dog-friendly Tigers baseball games

Bark at the Park is a series of Tigers baseball games that allow dogs. This was the first year that I attended, although they’ve done this for a few years now. And to be honest, it was my first Tigers game ever.  Now I can’t imagine watching a game any other way! And the best part is that it supports the Michigan Humane Society. So you enjoy a game with your bestie and help other dogs as well. Bark at the Park is sponsored by Pet Supplies Plus.

I had a lot of questions about the event so I thought I’d share our experiences to help you decide if this is the right event for your pup, what vaccines are required, and how to get the most out of your evening.

A man and a newfie puppy posing under the Comerica Park sign and Tiger statue before Bark at the Park

Tickets

Only 4 games this year are eligible for the Bark at the Park tickets – the last two games still have seats available at the time of publication.  Those games are Monday, Sept 16, against the Baltimore Orioles and Tuesday, Sept 24, against the Minnesota Twins.

Before you can purchase tickets you must agree to a liability waiver.  This includes the rights for your images to be taken and used by Detroit Tigers, Inc, and you are assuring them that your dog is well behaved, up to date on annual shots, and will be kept on a leash during the entire event.

A tri-colored Corgi dog wearing a custom Tigers baseball helmet and bandana

After agreeing to the waiver (you’ll also be asked to print it out, sign it, and bring it with you to the game) you can access the tickets.  Dog access is limited to the mezzanine seats. You won’t have the ability to choose your seats but at the last game people shuffled around a bit as there were some empty areas in the mezzanine.  

You must buy a separate ticket for your dog.  One dog per 18+ person is allowed. Even though we have two dogs that would love to go we only bring one so that we can have more control, and honestly, so I can go take photos of all the dogs at the event.

A small dog wearing a replica Tigers batting cap and sunglasses

Each ticket costs $14-$19 (plus any handling fees, ours had a $3.50 per ticket fee with electronic delivery).  Right now the MN Twins tickets cost $14 and the Baltimore Orioles tickets are $19. I think it costs less the earlier you buy.

Tickets are delivered electronically, you must download the MLB Ballpark app to access them (unless you’ve requested to pick up at will call which is also an option).  Download the app and make sure your ticket account is linked (via the email you used when purchasing the tickets) before you go to the game. It took me a few minutes to get it all set up and you don’t want to try doing this while in line with a lot of people waiting behind you!  If you run into any issues with the app you can call 313-471-2200.

A senior black lab wearing a Tiger's baseball themed tutu dress and hair bow

All tickets must be purchased in advance, there are no tickets available at the gates.  And these events do sell out pretty quickly so if you want to go, get your tickets now!

Link to buy tickets  

A Bernese mountain dog wearing a Tigers baseball bandana at Comerica Park

Dog Requirements

To attend a Bark at the Park event your dog must have a valid rabies vaccination and you will need to show proof before you can enter the game.  I found it a little confusing as some of the original communication from the event mentioned several other vaccination requirements but I think they’ve cleared it up now and I can confirm that it is only the rabies vaccination that they require.

A black newfie puppy in the seats at Comerica Park, Detroit

We wanted to take our puppy to the first game but we wanted to wait as long as possible to give her the rabies vaccination.  We ended up getting the vaccination the morning of the game and were able to enter the park with no problems but I would recommend getting the vaccination at least a few days in advance. Especially since any vaccination can make your dog tired or have a rare reaction that you wouldn’t want to discover while at a baseball game.

All dogs must be on a leash and no retractable leashes are allowed. Again, you cannot use a retractable leash within the ballpark. Amen!

Dogs do not have to be spayed or neutured but please use common sense and do not bring a dog that could be going into heat.  The future Bark in the Park games depend on keeping everyone safe.

A happy Leonberger dog sporting a Tigers bandana at Bark at the Park

Every dog must be wearing a collar with an identification tag with a name and contact information.  Again, pretty common sense and side note – your dog should also be microchipped. As a volunteer with a dog rescue group we have sometimes gotten a dog home before the owner knew it was missing because the dog was chipped.  It’s a very inexpensive insurance policy.

A smiling cream lab wearing a Detroit Tigers bandana while at Comerica Park

What can/can’t you bring to the game?

Backpacks and large bags are not allowed.  Your bag must be smaller than 16” x 16” x 8”.  You can view the standard prohibited/allowed items on the Tigers website, here:  https://www.mlb.com/tigers/ballpark/information/security


Remember – no retractable leashes!

A happy goldendoodle wearing a Detroit Tigers jersey at Comerica Park

What should you bring to the game?

Bring doggie bags with you.  There is an outdoor grass carpet area for the dogs to relieve themselves on but not all dogs will like that so please make sure that your dog has been walked/had a chance to go to the bathroom before the game.

English bulldog enjoying pets from it's owner in the stadium sets at the Tigers baseball game

There were plenty of dog water dishes set out around the park. If you don’t want your dog to drink from them bring your own. You are allowed to bring in factory sealed bottles of water (the clear kind like you buy at a grocery store).

I brought a shoulder bag with a blanket (for me, it was a May game), slober towel (we have a newfoundland), an unopened bottle of water, a collapsible dog water bowl, doggie bags, and some dog treats.  And of course I brought my camera!!!!! Check the lens restrictions at the link above.

Parking

Want to arrange your parking before the game? Follow this link to see locations and pricing of available parking. Or use the ParkWhiz website, it appears that both have the same pricing.

How to enter the park

The gates open at 5:30pm.  All dogs must enter via Gate B.  This is the southwest entrance at the corner of Witherell Street and E Adams Ave.  The dog check in area closes at 8pm, but you’ll want to get there much earlier to get the most out of your adventure.

Tigers fans, both dog and human, are lined up waiting to enter Comerica Stadium for Bark at the Park

There is a four step process to enter the park. I recommend that if you have at least two people in your group have one person wait in the security line while the other person checks off the other steps.  

The line of people and dogs waiting to enter Tigers Stadium for Bark at the Park

Check in at a table with your name and hand over your printed and signed waiver.  

Take your vet records with proof of valid rabies vaccination to the table where the vets are located.  You do not need the actual rabies vaccine certificate, just proof from the vet that it has been done on their records.  They will check your name off the list. You will receive a slip of paper once you’ve completed these two steps and you will need this paper to complete step 3.

Join your group in the security line, make friends as you wait, and then hand over your paper as you approach the metal detectors.  You’ll need to open your bags and go through the detectors.

Open the MLB Ballpark app on your phone so they can scan your tickets.  Paper/printed out tickets are not accepted unless you picked them up from will call.

A young golden retriever dog at Comerica Park

And you’re in!!!  The whole process was very smooth and easy.

At the game

Once you’re in you’ll go up the two flights of stairs to the Mezzanine area.  This is where all the action is.

The Fox News Crew filming at Bark at the Park at Comerica Park.

Immediately at the top of the stairs you’ll go down the somewhat narrow walkway.  This area can get a little crazy at the beginning of the event so if it’s a bit overwhelming for your dog keep walking through until the space opens up.  The Tigers mascot will be there so you can get some photos.

On your left will be a one-way area to check out the vendor booths and official photography station.  There are several pet food companies handing out samples and a photo station with a Tigers/Michigan Humane Society backdrop. The line was pretty long at the beginning of the game so you can either wait and watch everyone walk by or come back later.

A small dog wearing a bowtie enters Comerica Park for Bark at the Park baseball game


Tip – there is a second group area across from the food court where you can also get the food samples and a dog play area.  This is where the outdoor “bathroom” carpet is located, along with some dog pools if your dog needs to cool off.

Two small dogs greeting each other over the stadium seats at Bark at the Park

Once you’ve taken in all the festivities you can grab your food and find your seat.  Or you can hang out in the dog areas and meet all kinds of dogs and admire their outfits.

A Newfoundland dog sits on it's owners lap in the seat of Comerica Park, Detroit, during a dog-friendly baseball game

 

Conclusion

Bark at the Park Tiger’s games can be fun for your whole family, including your favorite family member – your dog!

A french bulldog and a hound sniff noses over a row of seats at Comerica Park, Detroit

Have you been to any of the Bark at the Park Tiger’s games?  What did you think? And let me know if I’ve missed anything.  And don’t forget to show some love to the sponsor of Bark at the Park, Pet Supplies Plus.

An English bulldog licks a man in the stadium seats at Comerica Park, Detroit

Keep an eye out for me if you’ll be attending the next games and I’ll take some photos of your dogs at the event.

A woman pets a dog wearing a Detroit Tigers jersey at a Bark at the Park baseball game

Sign up for Pawdacious Portraits updates, including fun events for you and your dogs like Bark at the Park.

A black Newfoundland puppy dog sits in an empty row of seats at Comerica Park


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