How I Got the Shot(s): Pets Over the Years


When I was a student at the Hallmark Institute of Photography one of our assignments was to photograph a pet portrait. Prior to this I had very little experience photographing pets after this I ended up loving photographing pets. This image of Feona the golden retriever was shot for my final portfolio at Hallmark. When my clients arrived Feona was super rambunctious. The skies that day looked stormy but thankfully the rains held off. My clients brought two of their dogs with them but didn’t think they would get any photos of Feona because of how wound she was. I set up a Profoto strobe with a white reflective umbrella. I had my clients direct Feona to a picnic table where I had Feona sit briefly. I was down on the ground and shot up towards Feona getting the dramatic sky in the background. I only got a few shots off before Feona lost her patience and jumped off the picnic table. This image ended up being my favorite from the session and remains one of my favorite pet images that I have shot. Later in post I retouched the sky to make it more dramatic and blue. The contrasting colors between the blue clouds and Feona (who is yellow of course) is one of the things which made this image work.

Shot using a Canon 5d Mark III with a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 Lens. Lit with a Profoto strobe and a white reflective umbrella triggered with Pocket Wizards. The aforementioned gear was provided by the Hallmark Institute of Photography. The gear mentioned after the later images in this post is the gear I actually own and use now. ISO 100 64mm f/10 1/125 of a second shutter speed.


After I moved back to Michigan in 2013 I decided that I wanted to put together a pet portfolio. A former client (who had a plethora of pets) offered to have me photograph them. This shoot resulted in some of my favorite pet images to this day. My favorite image from this shoot was a profile image of one of my client’s dogs. I lit the image in the same way I would lit a profile image of a person. The dog sat on the deck while his owners kept him from running off. My Alienbee B1600 strobe was placed to camera right on the lawn in front of the deck and facing the dog. When shooting pes you need to be very patient. Luckily this dog was pretty chill. He allowed me to get several frames with him in this spot before getting sick of modeling.

Shot using a Nikon D600 with a Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 Lens on a Feisol Carbon Fiber CT-3371 Tripod with a Kirk B3 Ball Head with a Kirk L Bracket. Lit with an Alienbee B1600 with a white shoot thru umbrella triggered with Radio Poppers and powered with a Vagabond Mini. As I’ve stated in past posts I quit using Radio Poppers in 2016 and now use cheaper but more reliable Yongnuo triggers.  


In early 2014 I shot some images of my friend and fellow Hallmark alumni’s cat Sadie in Weidman, Michigan. I used one of her backgrounds, lights, and softboxes for this image which was shot in a fairly tight space. This image remains one of my favorite cat images.

Shot using a Nikon D600 with a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Lens. Lit using a Calumet Strobe with a Cowboy Studio softbox (this softbox and strobe belonged to a friend of mine; the Cowboy Studio equipment I have used is consistently horrible and I would not recommend it).

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