Where Poop Bags and Kazoos Collide: The High-Tech and Slightly Unconventional Toolkit of a Professional Dog Photographer

Camera bag? More like a wearable clown car headed straight into a slightly unhinged parallel dimension! It’s a mystery bag of endless amusement, a surprise party waiting to happen, a cross between a magician’s hat and a bottomless supply of squeakers. Every time I unzip this bad boy, it’s a wild guess as to what attention-grabber I’ll pull out next. It may be a classic tennis ball (because hey, classics are classics for a reason) or a strategically placed pouch filled with a variety of different noisemakers and hunting calls to keep even the most seasoned canine model guessing with an irresistible head tilt. Sure, every dog photographer has their essentials, but mine seem to come with a healthy dose of the unexpected. Hold on to your hats (or should I say, chew toys)—​we’re going in!

Gear Up and Go

First up, the trusty steeds: a Nikon Z8, sleek and silent, and a battle-scarred D750, a testament to the adventures we’ve shared (both planned and unplanned). And lenses? Like a photographer’s Swiss Army Knife, my lens collection has a tool for every situation, but my true workhorse is my beloved 70-200mm…though let’s not forget the fun we can have with a 35mm for that adorably playful bobblehead effect.

Inside the many zipper pockets of my bag hides a healthy stock of extra SD and CF cards, because a dead card is the enemy of photographic joy only topped by a dead camera battery, which is why there’s always an extra fully charged battery in there as well to make sure no session ever gets sidelined by a powerless camera.

Essentials for a Doggone Good Time

Speaking of playful, well…that’s where things get interesting and perhaps unexpected. Nestled amongst the arsenal of gear, you’ll find a symphony of… noisemakers…because it’s been proven how well a strategically timed squeak can work for breaking a stubborn stare. From hunting calls and Wildly Noisy Wooden Things to colorful kazoos and lip whistles, I’m equipped to elicit a full range of animal (and human) emotions during a session because, let’s face it, a forced smile just doesn’t cut it when capturing the true, unbridled joy of a dog.

If I’m being honest, the average canine isn’t particularly impressed by technical accouterments or promises of Insta internet fame; they hunger for entertainment, the thrill of the hunt (even if it’s simply for a rogue tennis ball), or maybe just the sweet serenade of a cottontail rabbit call. A strategically timed blow from a harmonica can turn a loafing basset hound into a barking whirlwind while a well-placed toot from that aforementioned kazoo just may produce a look of utter bewilderment (and maybe a head tilt for good measure) that captures canine confusion in all its glory.

Snoop around and you may be surprised to also find:

  • A long lead for epic sprints and action-packed zoomies and to keep your furry friend safely within the frame during it all.
  • A post-session folder that includes a certificate of completion (because every pup deserves a diploma in cuteness), ordering appointment reminders, a post-session guide, and an abbreviated copy of my product and design guide.
  • A handful of business cards as proof that my squeaker-wielding, grass-rolling antics are actually part of a respectable job.
  • Poop bags because $#!t happens.

A Dog Photographer’s Bag of Tricks

So, there you have it—​a peek into my bag that proves that a little (or a lot) of organized chaos can breed photographic joy. So, if you’re out and about and see me rooting through a bottomless pit of noisemakers and camera lenses, don’t be shy! Stop by, say hi, and maybe even get a private concert featuring my latest kazoo composition.

Want to see the magic (and maybe even hear my badass puppy whine) in action? Start by choosing your adventure below.

4 thoughts on “Where Poop Bags and Kazoos Collide: The High-Tech and Slightly Unconventional Toolkit of a Professional Dog Photographer

  1. Michelle says:

    Jes, this is a great overview of dog photography essentials! I love the looks on the human’s faces when you whip out your noisemakers! 😆

  2. DOnna says:

    I love your description of you dog photography essentials as a wearable clown car – that’s the perfect description. Your sessions sound like SO MUCH FUN!!!

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