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Dog, Park

Welcome to mud season… Mother Nature’s April Fools joke

For anyone living in Michigan, or the upper Midwest in general, the beginning of spring is an exciting time.  The snow is retreating, the temperature is getting to tolerable levels, and both people and dogs are coming out of hibernation.  

We’re excited to see the sun again and spend time outside.  And then Mother Nature says, April Fools! The joke is on us….because the melting snow and warmer temps means mud season!  

As a dog mom to four dogs, I can honestly say that mud season is my least favorite season.  And as a pet photographer, I can honestly say that most people agree with me and don’t want to have their pet portrait sessions done in early spring.  Besides the mud it just really isn’t a visually appealing season until the spring flowers start to bloom and the grass greens up.

But what if you don’t have the luxury of waiting until summer?  If you have a senior dog and you’re worried that you don’t have much more time?  Or the flip side, you have a new puppy and want to capture that short window of pudgy puppy belly?  Maybe you just have spring fever and can’t wait to get out and get some photos of your dog?

My three favorite locations for early spring dog photos in the Novi/Northville area:

Maybury State Park, Northville:

I love the wide paved paths of Maybury State Park!  You can keep your pup mud free and still get some beautiful images.  At this time of year cloud cover is usually still pretty heavy, which is actually great for forested areas. It keeps the lighting even without the dappled light that can be so distracting in photos.  A bonus are the big fallen trees along the paths, a perfect perch for a dog that likes to explore a bit. You do need to have the recreation passport but it’s worth it.

Some images shot at Maybury park in late March:

A tri colored English shepherd sits on a forest path
An alert English shepherd dog laying in the dead grass at Maybury State Park, Michigan

Pavilion Shore Park, Novi:

My friend Adrienne introduced me to Pavilion Shore park. I was actually a little worried when I first pulled up to the parking lot.  I like a good challenge but this flat, open area seemed like it might be difficult to find a variety of backgrounds. But once I walked around a bit I realized how fantastic the park is in early spring.  The stone boulders and piers overlooking Walled Lake create so many options to get good photos without dealing with the mud or dead grass. I’m sure it’s a great spot in late spring and summer as well, but so far it’s my favorite spring photography spot.

Some images from Pavilion Shore Park on Walled Lake:

The boulder wall at Pavilion Shore Park near Lakeshore Park in Novi makes a great place for this small cream dog to play
A little cream dog sits in front of stone columns in Lakeshore Park in Novi, Michigan, licking his lips and waiting for the next treat!

Downtown Northville:

There are so many cute storefronts in downtown Northville that you’ll be sure to find some great backgrounds.  Be sure to pop into Celebrity Pets Co on Main Street to get a treat or a new toy while you’re out. And a bonus is stopping at Browndog Barlor. Get a dog-friendly ice cream sundae, complete with dog biscuit on top.  Talk about a good photo opp! P.S. They have artisan ice cream, sometimes with alcohol, for humans. Win win.

Black newfoundland puppy in front of Northville, Michigan, downtown store fronts

So those are my 3 favorite locations to get some great photos of dogs in early spring.  Do you have any good spots that you want to share?

Special April shout out to our friends at Furry Kids Pet Photography:

Jill Piper of Furry Kids Pet Photography is a pet-loving photographer located in Minot, Maine, USA. Check out her post, “The Best of Both Worlds? The Cat/Dog Hybrid” as you follow the next link in this blog chain. http://furrykidspetphotography.com/…/best-of-both…

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Dog, Photo Session, Travel

Impromptu dog photoshoot on the highest peak in Germany

I’m standing on the observation deck of the Zugsptize, over 9,700 feet up in Germany, looking out over the snow covered peaks.  It took a nerve-wracking ride on the record breaking Seilbahn Zugspitze cable car (currently closed as of 2018 due to a maintenance accident, yikes!) to get here, but the views are worth it.  You can see the alps across three countries from this vantage point, or you can walk over to the Austrian platform to check out the view from that perspective. No matter country you choose to stand in, you will not be disappointed.  If you’re crazy enough you can even climb the last little bit to the summit (I am not that crazy). And as always, there is a restaurant (best pretzels of our trip and I tasted many just to be sure) with the prerequisite beer while you’re enjoying those views.

I gaze around at the scenery in all directions and suddenly catch my breath.  I turn to my husband and whisper, “Oh my god!” He twists around toward where I am staring, trying to see what has me so excited.  “There’s a dog up here”, I say with glee. He sees the dog, then looks back at me. He grabs his backpack, pulls out his book, and says, “I’ll go get a beer and read, have fun”.  This is one of the many reasons why I love him, he just gets me. No matter where I go, I’ll always be a dog photographer first!

An Australian Shepherd looking in the distance on top of Zugspitze in Germany

I approach the woman with the dog, a gorgeous Australian Shepherd, and hope that she speaks english.  She does and only looks somewhat confused when I explain that I’m a professional pet photographer and would she like me to take some images of her dog. But she agrees.  I lead them over to the best spot on the observation deck near the stairs. It’s the only part where there isn’t any fencing to obstruct the view of the mountains in the background and I start posing her dog, Danny. He’s very well trained, which is not normal in most of my experience (is it me or are dogs in Europe generally better trained?).  People are walking up and down the stairs and I’m working the background to make them as unobtrusive as possible but it’s a busy day on Zugspitze. Luckily I have my dog squeaker in my camera bag (always), so I’m able to keep Danny’s attention despite all of the distractions.

Australian Shepherd on platform on top of Zugspitze mountain in Germany

Pretty soon I am laying on my stomach to get the shot, and other tourists are taking photos of me taking photos of the dog.  Another tourist wants his photo with the pup. I hardly notice them or the puddles of melted snow that I’m laying in. I’m working fast, the platform is filling up with more people and I don’t want to disrupt this woman’s whole day, but I am in heaven.  Seriously, I’m in a gorgeous location halfway around the world from Michigan, taking photos of a dog. It doesn’t get much better than this. I exchange email addresses with Anne and promise to send her gallery when I get back from our trip.

Eventually I join my husband for a beer and pretzel in front of the view.  But now he’s into it, pointing out other dogs and encouraging me to take more photos.  What was supposed to be an hour long adventure to see the tallest point in Germany has turned into half a day but we’re both having a fabulous time.  

A beautiful husky dog with the alps of Germany and Austria in the background

We were having so much fun that after our descent back down to Eibsee we decide to walk around the lake one more time.  I had met some huskies along the edge of the alpine lake on our hike the day before and had managed to grab a few papparazzi images of them. And we ran into them on top of Zugspitze, too, it’s such a small world!  I hoped to see more dogs in the same location and I was not disappointed. We were entertained by a happy little Jack Russell terrier named Henry (you might recognize him from my top 2018 derpy dog moments). Eventually though, we had to move on.

A happy husky dog at the edge of Lake Eibsee in Germany
Husky dog almost camouflaged at the edge of an alpine lake in Germany

Not long after I sent Danny’s images to Anne I learn that he tragically passed away in an accident.  I’m incredibly sorry for her loss, I know all too well how difficult that is. But I’m so glad that I approached a woman halfway around the world about an impromptu dog photo shoot on top of the tallest mountain in Germany.  At least she has the images of her boy, on top of the mountain in the sunshine. We’ll both have those happy memories.

A small Jack Russell terrier catching a tennis ball next to Lake Eibsee in Germany

I hope you enjoyed the images from our trip to Germany.  It was a fun challenge to make the best possible results within a limited time frame in a new area, sometimes with a language barrier.  Imagine the kind of images I could take of your pet, with more time and your input for pre-planning. While I am based in southeastern Michigan I do love to travel. So don’t let location stop you from setting up a portrait session for your pet.  Destination weddings are a thing, why not destination pet portraits? Because pets are family, too!

A Jack Russell terrier on the shore of Lake Eibsee in Germany
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Dog, Photography

My favorite outtakes and derpy dogs

Over the course of the year I took a lot of photographs of pets.  Expressions can change in an instant – from facial expressions to body language (if you’ve got a dog with big ears you know exactly what I mean!) so I take a ton of images to make sure that I get those perfect moments that you want framed and hanging above your fireplace.  And sometimes I get pure gold in the form of funny shots. These aren’t the images that will be blown up on a huge canvas print. That would be too embarrassing for our pets, otherwise I would totally do it. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy them! I don’t always show these kinds of images to my clients, but these made me laugh and I thought you might appreciate them, too.  We’re all friends here, right? So for your viewing pleasure here are my 2018 pet portrait outtakes, aka the derpy dog awards….

Craziest running face:

Newfie parents everywhere will appreciate this face.  I’ve never seen a Newfoundland that loves to run so much, to my delight.  There were several images to choose from and since I couldn’t narrow it down myself I put it to a poll on my Instagram page (thanks to everyone who voted!) and this was the clear “winner”:

A black and white newfoundland dog running through the snow with a crazy look on his face

Best bad hair day:

This award goes to a little cutie called Mello.  Freshly groomed, her hair was no match for the wind.  Thank goodness for photoshop and luckily Mello looks good no matter what!

A small cream dog having a bad hair day

Best pout:

How can anyone resist this face?  Nestled between his parents, Piper did his best to convince me that he has a rough life.  I know better, but I’ll give him full marks and appreciate his efforts and flair for drama!  

Small mixed breed looks sad while sitting between it's parents

Best kangaroo impression:

Earl loves his tennis balls so much that he actually falls asleep with them in his mouth.  But the action shots are where the derpy moments are at the highest. Something about this one just makes me think of a kangaroo.  Do you see it?

Dog leaping into the air to catch a tennis ball

Best Future meme:

Someone help me caption this!  Leave your suggestions in the comments below.  Jax was pretty excited to see that he received a new squeaky toy for his modeling efforts, or horrified to learn that he does not also get his brother’s new toy.  Either way, this one cracks me up!

A boston terrier dog with a funny surprised look on his face

Best shake it off:

Usually my dogs wait until they’re standing right next to me to shake off all the water, but this guy was busy chasing his tennis ball in a gorgeous alpine lake in Germany.  It’s always a challenge to keep the dog’s eye in focus while they’re twisting around but when it works you can get some great results.

A small terrier mix dog shakes off water next to a lake

Best looks fake but is totally real:

Nothing to see here folks, just a T Rex taking it’s Newfoundland dog for a walk around Michigan.  No photoshop magic applied, this actually happened.

A newfoundland dog being walked by a TRex dinosaur in a neighborhood

Most regal slurp:

Little P was a perfect model all day (read about our dog portrait session in Italy here), but I managed to snap right when he was licking his lips from getting a treat.  My models are well paid. I think I also make that face when I’m tasting a delicious red wine, especially if I’m in Italy.

A brown dachshund dog licking his lips while seated on a stone staircase in Italy

Best “Phoebe” moment:

Before our photoshoot Athena’s mom told me that Athena most resembles Phoebe from the TV show, Friends.  Exuberant, sweet as can be, but a bit klutzy (don’t worry Athena, I can totally relate!). Athena lived up to her character assessment with a slight slip on the couch, which she immediately played off, cool as can be….but I caught it on film….well video.  And turned it into my first gif. You can see more poised images from her portrait session here.

A gif loop of a happy grey pitbull slipping on the back of the couch

Drumroll please…..the title of Derpiest Dog of 2018 goes to…….

Klark!!  With a name like Klark you know this is going to be good.  Klark is a darling doberman who more than slightly resembles Dobby from Harry Potter.  Klark wins the official title for both dog portrait image and action shot video. I think you’ll understand why Klark takes the prize when you view these masterpieces.

Derpiest Dog of 2018 Image: What now Klark

A goofy doberman dog surrounded by yellow coneflowers

Derpiest Dog of 2018 Video:  The ultimate doggy paddle

That sums it up!

I hope you enjoyed my review of my favorite cutting room floor images, I’m looking forward to creating more this year.  

Don’t forget to give me some caption ideas for Jax’s surprised look.  

And if you’re a pet parent join the pack and get a monthly newsletter filled with photo tips and upcoming pet related activities in southeastern Michigan. As a vegetarian I can guarantee no Spam!

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Park, Photo Session

Yep, you read that right, Pawdacious Portraits has officially gone international!  Earlier this year I had the chance to work with the cutest dachshund in Verona, Italy.  Little P and his family are stationed on an American base in Italy so this adorable dog is exploring Europe for a few years, lucky pup!  And lucky pet photographer to get to work with him on location in the historic center of Verona!

I explored the town before the session, looking for areas that would make good backdrops and showcase some of the Italian history and culture, in addition to Little P.  It was important that the images didn’t look like they could have been taken in Michigan, I really wanted some of that Italian flair. I also wanted Little P’s pawrents to have amazing memories of their European adventures when they finally head back to the states.  This wasn’t just a portrait session, I wanted to document a slice of their lifestyle while they were living in Italy.  Luckily the city is filled with great locations. The hardest part of the day was trying to find a parking spot but once that was secured we were off!


Brown dachshund dog in Italian fountain

Little P posed like a champ….except when he spotted the ducks in the Madonna fountain, then it was time to work!  And he did an excellent job of chasing those ducks away and entertaining the crowd at the same time. We spent two hours wandering around a small city park, the Piazza delle Erbe, some of the small streets surrounding the piazza, and our rental apartment (with balcony).  I love the variety of images that we were able to take- from action shots to portraits. 



We topped off Little P’s photoshoot with a new squeaky toy, brought all the way from the US, and gelato (at least for his mom). A great day for everyone!  



See more images from Little P’s international dog portrait session on the Pawdacious Portraits IG account.  And follow him on his European adventures via the Outside This Small Town IG account and travel blog.

A brown dachshund dog on a vintage couch in an elegant home

 

The Pawdacious Portraits 2019 travel schedule is still being set but feel free to contact me if you’re interested in an on location dog portrait session.

 



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