This week I’m combining two of my regular features (well okay, ONE of my regular features and one of my OLD ones) – Wordless Wednesday and Wednesday Winners.
In the Wordless Wednesday portion of this post, I am featuring a photo from Patrick Nau Photography. As always, feel free to add a caption! (You can see more of Patrick’s photos below.)
In the Wednesday Winners portion of this post I am featuring Patrick Nau himself. Patrick has been photographing people for 25 years, and people with their pets pets for over 5 years. His photographs are so good that they actually look like paintings. He is a phenomenal photographer, a genuinely nice person, and the official photographer for Mel’s Pet Pals clients! Check out my interview with him below.
How did you get started photographing people and their pets? What motivated you?
I have photographed families with their dogs in a park setting for many years. However, about 6 years ago things changed dramatically when I decided to get into pet photography after reading a story about a pet photographer and seeing his work in one of the professional magazines I receive . The work was shockingly bad and the photographer thought he was great. I got mad and said to myself–I could do better than that. I realized I needed to practice [on several pets] and worked out and arrangement with the vetinarian across the street to photograph her employees with their pet(s). When I was done with that project, I was ready to be a pet photographer.
What are you looking for when you photograph a person’s pet?
The things I look for when photographing dogs are to show (depending on the breed) the cuteness, beauty, dignity, strength, nobility and any other striking feature or reaction, the dog shows that is most complimentary to itself.
How do you know when you’ve gotten that “perfect” shot?
With many dogs it is easy to take great shots–they pose really well and it is easy for me to take nice portraits of them. When it is more of a challenge–that is when there are multiples dogs or if they are high strung, energetic and so on, I use all my bag of tricks and always work so that I can get short blocks of time where everything is just right and I can take a whole series of portraits I like.
What do you find most challenging about photographing pets?
To be honest the most challeng thing about pet photography is when a dog is poorly trained and the owner is really not in charge of his or her dog. This does not happen often but can certainly make for a challenging session.
What are some tips you can give people to better prepare for a photography session with a photographer like yourself? (Are there things they can do to before their appointment to better prepare their pet?)
There are things that owners can do to prepare for a session ahead of time. Dogs that are very active and energetic should be walked or run beforehand to use up some of that boundless energy. A visit to the groomer before the session is always a plus.
Do you have a funny story about photographing a pet?
When I photographed the first vet clinic employee with her dog, I couldn’ find my preparation list ahead of time. I rushed the session and knew we probably did not have many good pictures. The dog was scared and the owner struggled.
After we were done and doing the paper work in my front lobby –she screamed “Oh No!” as the dog went #2 right in the middle of the room. I told her not to worry as that was a fiiting response from her dog regarding the session. Later on I found the list–the first thing on it–give the dog plenty of time to explore and get comfortable BEFORE you start the session!
Okay. Now for the tough question… Which is more difficult? Photographing people or pets?
Which is easier to photograph–dogs or kids? Well, for the most part I would have to say DOGS!
Here are some other great photos taken by Patrick Nau:
By the way, Patrick has a great “Getting Started” page on his website that tells people how to have a successful portrait session. Really helpful information!
This week’s Wednesday Winner is a book. A really good one.
Written by Jo Coudert, The Dog Who Healed a Family, is a collection of short stories exploring the relationship between people and their pets. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and, often times, inspirational, The Dog Who Healed a Family is an easy read. As a busy small business owner, I was able to pick it up, read one story, and come back later to read another.
While all the stories are well-written and interesting, a few really captured my heart:
– The Puppy Express – I won’t lie. This one had me tearing up. It is at once heartbreaking and heartwarming. A family’s elder dog must find a way home across immeasurable odds. It will renew your faith in the power of people and what they can do when they work together.
– I Love You, Pat Meyers – Bird videos can be quite funny to watch, especially when they mimic us silly humans. This story is no different. Pat and her bird, Casey, become quite the pair after Pat becomes laden with an illness and the after-affects. I dare you to not laugh out loud at this story. I did. Several times.
– An Experiment in Love - This is a wonderful story about a woman, named Livy, who chooses to give a kitten (Boston) a little more love and attention than the others in the litter. Read and see what happens. A hint? Love is a mighty, powerful thing.
– The Pig Who Loved People – People often think of cuddly cats and dogs when they think of a pet, but Pigger proves that pets can come in all shapes and sizes. A great story about an amazing pig and how he used his smarts to impress.
– The Good Shepherd – An amazingly touching story about a mom and a shepherd named Grizzly who brought light and joy to the lives of many a sick child. Who knew this was the beginnings of the Good Shepherd Association? Truly a beautiful story.
I also loved Jo’s exploration of people’s pure love for pets and their pure love for us in the Afterword. Her thoughts on why we love our pets so much are “right on” in my book!
I have two great passions in life. My love of animals is fulfilled through my pet sitting business. My love of photography is fulfilled via the web and taking pictures of anything that inspires some sort of awe or emotion in me, especially ones that involve animals. In the past, I have chosen other photographers who I have thought were at the top of their game (at least in my opinion!).
This week I honor a website that recognizes other avid photographers like me. I love that they have a contest every week to choose the best photos. I love that they engage teens in the process. And, I love that they share these great photos for all to see and enjoy.
In particular, you may want to check out Week 26′s photos. They really are amazing. See if you aren’t as moved as I was by these phenomenal photos.
This week’s Wednesday Winner is iheartfaces.com. Enjoy!
Oh! And thanks to my sister-in-law, Laura, for letting me know about this great site! You’re the best Laura!
I’ve always been a frequent user of another dog park (name not given because I kind want to keep it a secret), but recently I decided to give the Minnehaha Falls Off-Leash Dog Park a try. It was a hot and humid day and the dogs needed a little water time. Luckily, Minnehaha Falls has a plenty of that!
Located off of 54th Street and Hiawatha in Minneapolis, Minnehaha Falls Off-Leash Dog Park is spectacular. It’s huge, deeply wooded and runs along the Mississippi River. It has tons of trails, beaches (when it doesn’t rain for days on end) and water to spare. My dogs absolutely love it!
You need a permit to use the park, but it’s well worth it for the fun your dogs will have playing in the water or running along the trails.
Daisy, Jasper and I usually spend about 2 hours just playing along the beach. Jasper’s favorite activity is chasing the waves (a typical herding dog) – he really does think he’s going to catch one! Daisy never learned to swim, but she loves to wade in the water and dip her snout in it.
Check out some of the photos and videos below.
So this week’s Wednesday Winner is the Minnehaha Falls Off-Leash Dog Park!
Crazy Jasper Chasing the Waves
Thanks to my friends at Go Pet Friendly and my friend Kim (@kimhalligan1) on Twitter, I decided to try The Honest Kitchen.
As they say on their website: They’re a family owned company that makes healthy, dehydrated pet foods, supplements and treats for dogs and cats.
But what I like is this:
– The food is 100% human-grade ingredients that “you’d recognize from your own kitchen”
– There are no fillers (think “grains”), by-products, artificial preservatives, colors or flavors
– It’s quick and easy to prepare – just add water (the food is dehydrated)
– A portion of their profits are donated to charity (you gotta love that!)
– They’re customer service oriented – you can ask them a question on their Facebook page and they get back to you right away!
– And lastly, they will never become a part of a “major multi-national conglomerate” – this last one is huge for me because many of the better dog foods (the ones that get high ratings for the ingredients they contain) are being bought up by major multi-national conglomerates. When shareholders are involved and dividends have to be paid, companies look to cut costs and that usually means lower quality. I vote for quality I can trust. Sorry conglomerates!
The first day I introduced “Force” (one of the The Honest Kitchen selections) to my dogs I watched to see what they would do. After all, this wasn’t the kibble they were used to eating. Daisy gobbled it down right away, but Jasper took his time to sniff it, taste it and then, he too gobbled it down. The second day, Jasper rejected it, but Daisy gobbled it down again. The third day, Jasper and Daisy both gobbled it down immediately. And, it’s been that way ever since!
What I like about how my dogs reacted to the food is:
– Both of them licked the bowls clean (they never did that with kibble!)
– Daisy and Jasper now eat their food right away (they never did that either!). Jasper used to leave his food in his dish and eat it whenever he got hungry. He never seemed all that interested in his old food. In fact, he seemed to be more interested in whatever another doggie client had brought with them! But, not anymore!
– No more soft stools. I know it sounds gross, but I have found that I have less to pick up and what I do pick up is easier to pick up! Who’s going to complain about that?
A couple of months ago, I was exploring various interactive toys for my client newsletter and came across an ad for a new KONG product: the Wobbler. I already had a rolling treat ball at home that Jasper (my Sheltie) absolutely loved, but I wondered if he would like the Wobbler too.
He does! And, so does Daisy!
The Wobbler works just like the Weeble-Wobble toys from when I was a kid. There is sand in the bottom that keeps the toy grounded but allows your dog to tip it to get the treats out of the hole on the side. What I like about this toy is how easy it is to fill with treats and clean up afterwards. And, my dogs really do love it.
The first time I placed the Wobbler on the floor, Jasper backed away, uncertain of what this new thing was and what he was supposed to do with it. But once I showed him how it worked, he was busy pushing it around, knocking it over and pawing at it.
Now, before I leave the house for the day, I fill it with his kibble (or special treats) and leave it on the floor for him and Daisy (my Lab). I never know where I am going to find it when I get home, but that’s part of the fun! I’ve found it in the bathroom (behind the toilet!), under a chair, under the entertainment center, at the top of the basement stairs, in my bedroom, etc. It’s now become a game to guess where I will find it next! Clearly, it is a very popular toy with my dogs.
That’s why the KONG Wobbler is this week’s Wednesday Winner!
It’s a little late here on this Wednesday eve, but I wanted to recognize a very cool internet-based company that has been instrumental in growing my pet sitting business. Today’s Wednesday Winner is Animoto!
Animoto allows users to produce some really cool and unique music videos in a matter of minutes using your very own pictures, video and music. What I love about Animoto is that it allows me to create some really awesome videos for my clients (whose pets stay with me while they are away on vacation) for a really reasonable price. My clients love them and I love sharing them with them!
Clients love to see their pets having fun while they are gone, and it’s a great tribute to their pet that they can keep and share with friends. What better way to show how much fu their pet had while they were away?
But, what’s also awesome about Animoto is that is really, really simple. Upload your photos and video, review, add music and wait for Animoto to produce it in just a few minutes! Have a graduation coming up? Create a video you can share. Took a really cool vacation? Use Animoto’s water background to create a cool video to share with your friends- better than watching a slideshow in someone’s basement! Here are some sample videos for you to check out.
I’ve included a few of my own client videos to show you what I mean. Feel free to check them out.
Then, go to Animoto and sign up! You won’t regret it!
My dog Daisy can be skittish at times. Loud noises, such as fireworks and thunder are frightening to her. So are new situations and places. I’ve worked with Daisy to try and help her to be less fearful, but sometimes there are things that you just cannot cure with training.
I have used it on Daisy just a few times. Once, just to try it out, twice when we went to the pet store and tonight, when we had a good sized Thunderstorm. In all cases, I noticed a difference. When outside, Daisy was less jumpy and less reactive. It didn’t make all her fears go away, but it took the edge off. She no longer jumped or skittered away when I moved suddenly. At the store, it was mixed, but that may be due to the fact that the store was busier one time and not busy the next time.
However, it was the difference it made during tonight’s thunderstorm that really made me decide to name it this week’s Wednesday Winner. As soon as the thunder started, Daisy started pacing. Even with the air conditioner on, she could hear it and began pacing back and forth between her kennel and the living room. I figured it was the perfect time to try it out. So, out came the Thundershirt!
Guess where Daisy is right now (even as I write this post)? Asleep in her kennel.
With the Thundershirt on, Daisy stopped pacing almost immediately, went into her kennel, and promptly fell asleep.
Is there thunder still going on outside? Yes. It hasn’t stopped since I put it on her, and yet, my sweet Daisy sleeps.
That’s why this week’s Wednesday Winner is the Thundershirt. I highly recommend it!
(By the way, I did not get paid for this endorsement. I paid for the shirt myself and wanted to share my experience with any other dog owners who have dogs that are afraid of Thunder or Fireworks.)
In addition to being a lover of animals I happen to have a passion for photography. There are a few photographers whose work I absolutely love!
I highly recommend you check out her many photos here. By the way, that cute little guy on the right? That’s Ozy, my Boston Terrier client. Isn’t he adorable? She caught his personality perfectly! Click on the html link below him and take a look at the amazing pics.
If you are Ohhhing and Ahhhhing after looking at her photos, then you know why she just HAD to be this week’s Wednesday Winner.
It might sound strange that a pet sitter would choose to award the Wednesday Winner title to a business that focuses on letting owners take their pets with them on vacation, but that’s just what I am doing this week.
Why? Because GoPetFriendly.com is just plain THAT cool!
Started by a husband and wife team, Amy and Rod, and their two dogs, Ty and Buster, GoPetFriendly.com is a user-friendly website that allows owners to find hotels, campgrounds, outdoor activities, boarding facilities, pet boutiques, and PET SITTERS all over the country.
Planning to travel to San Franciso, California and need to know which hotels are pet friendly? Simply input the city and state and dates you plan to be there and voila! you get a list of hotels! Planning to drive the whole way to San Francisco? Use their Road Trip Planner to plan out your whole journey – hotels, cool places to take your dog, etc. – pet owners now have an option that allows their pet to some along for the ride!
Go Pet Friendly has a lot of other great features too. All of them are user-friendly, fun and informative. That’s why this week’s Wednesday Winner is GoPetFriendly.com. Check it out!