When my friend Jo McAvany isn’t being a busy mother and wife, or taking care of her pet quails, ducks, chickens, potbelly pigs, cats, rabbits, turtle and dogs, and isn’t joining me on photography adventures, she is likely to be photographing people’s pet dogs.
I am always impressed with the photographs that she takes and after talking to her about her latest dog photo session I decided it would be fun to write about her small business.
Jo McAvany is of the opinion that our pet dogs deserve to be on the wall with the rest of the family photos, and that it’s framed photograph should be of the same high quality as the rest of the professional studio portraits.
I know people sometimes get fun shots of themselves or their dogs with their tiny iPhones or their digital cameras and are content to leave them on their phone or computer. However, there are some people that choose to have their own personal portraits taken by an experienced photographer in a controlled location and for those that include their dog as part of the family, my friend Jo has been for years offering that same option for their beloved pet dogs.
Jo will set up a “portrait studio’ in her own or some client’s home using a black backdrop and creatively positioned speedlights to make the kind of portraits of people’s dogs that are usually only available from some expensive big city studio.
McAvany sets up a four-foot wide black seamless paper backdrop and is able to get the portrait lighting with two, or sometimes three, stand mounted speedlights with light diffusing modifiers.
I’ll mention a neat thing about modern speedlight (flash) technology. Most modern DSLR cameras have a feature called “High Speed Sync”. What that means is the camera is not limited to the default flash synchronization of 1/200th or 1/250th a second and by browsing the menu one can find and choose the option to sync dedicate flash up to 1/8000th of a second.
High Speed Sync allows photographers to use fast shutterspeeds that makes sure their photographs of excited puppies and happy adult dogs are sharp and movement free.
For those readers that are interested in camera equipment. Jo prefers using a full frame DSLR so she can get as much as she can out of the wide angle lenses she uses; a 14-24 and 24-70mm. The wide-angle lenses let her get closer to her furry subjects.
I don’t think that photographing dogs is all that easy. To make good portraits of dogs one must be accommodating, uncomplaining, unflappable, determined and above all must really love dogs. Nevertheless, I think it is worth setting up some flashes, grabbing a camera, kneeling on the floor and experimenting with that never complaining companion that will pose for almost any kind of payment.
Stay safe and be creative. These are my thoughts for this week. Contact me at www.enmanscamera.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.