Pet Photography Project 52, Week 31: Wood, Finding Hidden Gems

Happy August! Before I dive into this week’s Pet Photography 52 Weeks Project theme, wood, I just have to ask: how are we 31 weeks into the year?! Summer has been flying by! I’ve spent much of the past few weeks photographing the 13 winners of the FurKid Rescue 2018 pet calendar, which will be available this fall, and soon I will begin designing the actual calendar. I’m so excited to see the final product!

For this week’s project 52 theme, I thought it’d be neat to share a behind-the-scenes of how I transformed a backyard wood pile into the spot of what is one of my favorite photos of calendar contest pup Ceresi. Because this four-year-old rottweiler is working through a mild fear aggression of other dogs, her mom asked if we can hold Ceresi’s session in her backyard, which included two acres of fenced in green space and three acres of woods.

Related: Q&A: What Makes a Good Space for a Backyard Session?

Arriving to a client’s home for a session for the first time presents its own challenges in regards to location. There are many uncertainties if you’re not familiar with the property, and I know many photographers dread shooting in a client’s backyard for this very reason. For instance, how is the quality of light? Where does it come from at the particular time of day you’re shooting? Are there interesting architectural elements or landscaping? If not, how can you strategically compose your images to create the appearance of a larger, more interesting space.

A particular area in Ceresi’s backyard caught my attention when her mom asked about the possibility of using this pile of chopped wood and tall wild grasses. I enthusiastically had Ceresi’s dad lead her to a spot within the grasses then maneuvered myself around her until I achieved my desired angle to eliminate as much of the fence as I could and to capture the ideal light. Using a wide aperture of f/2.8, I was able to blur the chain link fence and create that bright, glowing bokeh that was a project 52 theme several weeks ago.
wood pile in backyard for pet photography sessionAnd without further ado, here is that final image! I absolutely love the texture and depth the grass and wood added as well as how the grass frames her gorgeous face.

rottweiler sitting in tall grasses in beaver county backyard

Ceresi’s session shows how easily you can find hidden gems at almost any location; you just need to know where to look. Pay attention to how the light falls on your subjects and their surroundings. Shoot high, shoot low. Find ways to frame your subject. Seek out unusual textures to add visual interest. Slow down. Experiment. Above all, take a moment to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Related: Ceresi the Rottweiler – Beaver County Pet Photography


The Pet Photography Project 52 posts are part of a blog circle. To see what the next pawesome pet photographer is sharing for the weekly theme, “Wood,” start with Kim with BARKography in Charlotte, NC. Continue to click the link at the end of each post in the blog circle and you’ll eventually find your way back here.

15 thoughts on “Pet Photography Project 52, Week 31: Wood, Finding Hidden Gems

  1. You did a great job here! You would never know what the location looked like! Lovely photo – and you can never go wrong with a Rottie!

    1. That’s the secret! I love finding those hidden gems where others may not see the same thing. I always remind my clients that what I see through the lens is often very different than what they see as a pet parent at the time.

    1. Not at all! I have the bigggest fear of snakes! I was definitely much farther away than it appears. I wasn’t setting foot near any place that snakes could be! We have a huge wood pile in our backyard and I won’t go within 20′ of it!

  2. I really like that image, what a wonderful job you did. Agree with all RE snakes! (Thankfully we dont have them in New Zealand) Amazing what you can do with a backyard sometimes tho.Well done!

    1. New Zealand sounds like a place I’d like! I remember when we honeymooned in Hawaii, we learned that snakes are not native to there. Even on the flight over, we had to fill out a paper that asked what we were bringing on to the island in terms of specific items, plants, animals, etc. Snakes were one of the questioned animals.

  3. The results of this session are great! Sometimes people look at me when I ask that a dog be placed in a certain spot as if to say I am crazy, but what we see in our creative mind is so much different than what may be in the surroundings. Love your final image!

  4. What a beautiful dog! I actually love backyard sessions – I find the dogs are so much more comfortable in their surroundings. Beautiful final image! Saw the “snake” comments – we have SO many in our yard! Harmless but I do NOT enjoy them! 🙂

  5. I love your take on how this all comes together – what a great idea! The grass frames the dog’s face perfectly – you did a wonderful job of ensuring you picked the correct place.

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