So you’ve probably heard about the photo book, For the Love of Peanut Butter, that local photographer Greg Murray is working on. In the last few weeks his project has made not just national news, but international news as well. The project has been covered by the Huffington Post, Mashable, New Day UK and numerous local TV news stations.
Greg sent out a call for dogs to be in the book about a month ago, so of course I had to sign up my boys. If there’s anything going on involving dogs in Cleveland, they have to be a part of it! I brought both of them to the photo shoot, thinking that it might be hard to get a good shot of Roscoe, since he is so shy and fearful. Turns out I was totally wrong. Roscoe was a total natural, while Hunter decided he is totally over being a dog model.
Hunter was the fearful one who would not sit still for a photo. I should’ve known based on his past studio modeling appearances, but my inner stage(dog)mom always comes out and I think he can do it. He’s just so photogenic when he can sit still! He was not a fan of the flash though and was too freaked out. Even the peanut butter wouldn’t motivate him past a certain point.
Greg got a great shot of Roscoe that will be in the book though. (Not the one above, although it is pretty great.) You’ll have to wait until the book comes out to see it and the 100 other local dogs that will all be featured!
I can be a bit of a dog pusher. I realize this about myself and feel bad sometimes after I’ve gone on and on to a friend or family member about how they should get a dog. I just know that I definitely didn’t expect all the ways that my dog would make my life better before I got him, so I sometimes think others may not know how great having a dog really is.
But now, I have a Harvard study to back up my claims about how beneficial having a dog really is! I will try not to let this make my dog-pushing worse, but come on, it’s a Harvard study backing up everything us dog lovers know to be true! That feels pretty vindicating.
I wholeheartedly agree with everything in this study. Having a dog has made me more active, made me more social and made me happier. I loved having a dog so much after adopting Hunter that I had to have another! And it’s true, having two dogs is even better than having one (that will be the next Harvard study, just wait).
Of course it’s not always fun and games and there are a lot of stressful times and sacrifices you have to make. But for me, the rewards are worth it. When you have a smiling dog so happy to see you when you get home and someone to snuggle with you on the couch, the sacrifice is all worth it.
There are so many ways my dogs have changed my life, but some of them I didn’t really expect. Here are some of the unexpected ways my dogs have changed my life for the better:
I explore more
I remember telling a friend before I adopted Hunter that I didn’t want a really active dog, that I couldn’t picture myself playing catch with a dog at the park. Well, Hunter isn’t really into catch, but if he was, I would definitely take him to the park to play. I’ve realized that seeing my dog happy, makes me happy, so I will pretty much try anything to keep him entertained. We have visited almost every Metropark, tried bootcamp all the way across town, done trick training classes, gone to playgroups, taken road trips. My dogs have definitely gotten me out exploring a lot more than I expected.
I don’t mind staying in
I used to hate when I didn’t have plans on Friday or Saturday night. Now I can’t wait to get home and spend the night with my dogs. I just need more friends that want to just come over and hang out with my dogs, because most of the time that’s all I want to do.
I want to save them all
I didn’t know much about animal rescue before adopting Hunter. I knew about puppy mills, but that’s about it. Hunter wasn’t adopted from a shelter or a rescue group, but instead from a friend that had taken him in after her friend gave him up. As I got more involved in the dog community after adopting him, I realized that if a dog like Hunter could be given up, there must be lots of great dogs that need help finding a family. Last year I started fostering for Central Ohio Pomeranian Rescue and it’s been one of the best experiences of my life. Not only have I met some great dogs and made friends, I met this little guy who has brought me so much joy.
I feel more settled
I used to be restless, always wanting to move to a new city or find a new job. Adopting Hunter and Roscoe has made Cleveland feel like home and I feel more settled than I have at any other point in my life. When you live alone, having a dog makes your house feel like home.
What ways has your dog improved your life that you didn’t expect?
I love photography and I love dogs, so dog photography has always sounded like a dream job to me. Knowing how hard it can be to get a good photo of my dog though, I admire people who can really do it well. I recently came across local photographer Brittany Graham of Brittany Graham Photography and fell in love with her photos. Brittany has a great eye for capturing the bond between humans and their dogs.
I reached out to Brittany to find out what it’s like to be a dog photographer. Check out my Q&A below for some dog photography tips and the answer to the age old question: who’s easier to photograph – dogs or cats? (and a special offer!).
What got you interested in photography?
When I was 12, my uncle gave me my grandfathers’ Canon AE-1. I quickly became obsessed with photographing the everyday moments, everyone and anything around me. As for how it came to be that my main focus is Pet Photography, it was more of an obvious transition than a decision. I have three of my own pets and my everyday life seems to revolve around them – their quirks, their routine, the unconditional love that fills our home. It came so naturally to capture and document all of that, and I realized how many people miss or overlook such an opportunity.
Do you have a favorite breed of dog to photograph? Yes and no. Mutts are my favorites. I love photographing dogs who remind me of cartoon characters – Boston Terriers, Pugs, Italian Greyhounds, Great Danes, etc. Dogs with strong features. Then there are the breeds that always look regal – Golden Retrievers, Labs, Border Collies, Boxers. However, what I love most is photographing a really great bond. I always encourage owners to participate in the shoot as well. There is nothing like capturing the love between human and dog. The cliché of unconditional love never fails, so in the end, I don’t care what the breed is, I just want it to be a family affair.
What are some of your favorite locations in Cleveland to take dog photos?
This is a tough question. I LOVE a great urban landscape with a lot of texture such as the flats or Little Italy. With that said, dogs can be tricky and what I envision as a great location may end up being a nightmare if the dog is uncomfortable. I try to pick locations where the dog will comfortable and happy, so my favorite locations are those in which I can capture a pet as the owner sees them, such as their own environment or a familiar park.
Which are easier to photograph – kids or dogs? Dogs or cats?
Kids or Dogs? It depends on the parents (this goes for parents of kids AND dogs) 😉 I can never stress enough, either way, to allow the main stars to be themselves. Dogs or Cats? Hmmmmm…. It depends on the specific cats and specific dogs. Spastic dogs are tricky as they require a lot of patience. Cats, well, cats do their own thing. Some cats couldn’t care less that I’m there. Some won’t come out of the closet. In general, I do think cats are more photogenic.
What are your tips for getting a great photo of your dog?
Get to their level. Don’t “bark” commands at them. Have fun, get dirty, and bring a lot of treats.
Tell us about your pet(s). Do they like to have their photo taken?
Petey is a 6 year old boxer. He is the alpha in the house and is far too busy to bother himself with posing for the camera. Either he is incredibly bored by me and the camera by now or he thinks the camera lens is a pointer – if I point it at him, he turns to see what is behind him.
Tank is a 3 year old boxer (maybe boxer mix – we aren’t sure). He is a ham. He is by far the quirkiest dog I have ever met in my life and for that, I love photographing him. But, he takes the same role as his alpha leader and walks away from the camera.
Seamus (Shay-mus) is a 7 month old ginger tabby. He loves the camera – or at least he doesn’t turn away. He is very intrigued when I pull the camera out, though I’m sure in due time, he too will become bored with it.
Doyou have any funny pet stories from photo shoots?
Every shoot leads to funny stories, that is the beauty of being a pet photographer. More specifically, probably my favorite story was the time I was photographing a chocolate lab who got out of the car, saw a mud puddle, casually walked over to it, laid down, rolled around a few times and decided it was nap time. That was it. He wouldn’t move from that puddle. It was a short session.
Do you have a favorite pet photo shoot you’ve done? Each shoot I do becomes my new favorite! I feel like I learn something new from each session, almost like an “A HA” moment, which makes me want to run back to the studio and immediately start going through the images.
Brittany is offering a special for readers: Mention this blog and get a $200 gift certificate for $100 (one per reader/family/session). Offer good through December 15th.
Brittany is also the official photographer of the Lakewood Animal Shelter and for Darwin Dogs, a dog trainer in the Cleveland area. In addition to pet photography, Brittany also does weddings and family photo shoots. Visit her website at http://brittany-graham.com