A sole, fuzzy photo of our miniature schnauzer Nellie is all we have to remember her by. What were we thinking? We weren’t. So when gal-pal Bernice adopted a terrier, I insisted that she get professional shots taken of her furry bundle.
“I used to be a dog trainer,” said David Veit of David Veit Photography (619-847-8880; veitphotography.com). “I employ positive reinforcement and other dog-training principles in the session. The first 30 minutes is ‘getting to know you’ time. I employ the ‘click means treat’ method. But rather than using a traditional clicker, I use the shutter on my camera, so it teaches the dog to anticipate a reward, and I get the canine connected to the camera.”
A session starts at $200 and includes online proofing of the image and then delivery of that image as an 8x10. Sessions last up to 90 minutes. Veit works on location all around San Diego and has access to a studio if a client prefers.
John Cocozza of San Diego Dog Photography (858-952-9999; sandiegodogphotography.com) says, “Sometimes people want photos because they just got a new dog or they have some puppies that are getting a little bigger. But the majority of the time, it’s people who have a dog who is getting older, and they want to get some photos of them before the dog gets sick.”
Cocozza will go to the client’s home “if the dog is sick or older, and they can’t bring them to a park. But usually I’ll meet them at Ocean Beach’s dog beach [$80], Fiesta Island dog park [$80], Balboa Park dog park [$100], or Del Mar dog beach [$120].” Sessions are 45 minutes.
How is photographing people different than photographing dogs? “It’s very different. You can tell people to sit still. The reason I like shooting dogs is that it’s a challenge. You never know what the dog is going to do. When you let a dog go at a dog park, he’s all over the place, running around, sniffing all the other dogs — you really have to track him. I do surf photography and action-sports photography, so I’m used to that fast pace.”
What makes for a great shot? “When the dog looks at you, and he’s super intrigued by what you are doing. His ears go up, and he’s, like, What is that guy doing over there? I am going to go sniff that thing. Or when dogs are in action, when they first get down on the beach or the park and they start running around with the other dogs, then you can get a great action shot. Or if they are jumping in mid-air for a ball. The trick is not to force the dog. Let the dog be the dog, and you photograph what the dog is doing — instead of trying to pose the dog, force the dog. It’s never going to happen — the dog is too distracted.”
“I shoot photos in the animal’s home or a favorite location,” said Tamandra Michaels, owner of Heart Dog Studios (619-218-4668). “I take a variety of pictures, so they can choose between action shots, headshots, expression shots, and relationship shots. It can be documentary style...and there are some photos where I get their attention and interact with them. It’s modern photography, where I show the relationship between the animal and its people and capture the dog’s personality.”
Michaels charges $200; rescue-dog photos or terminally ill dogs are $150. “If people have rescued a dog, or if someone calls and books an emergency appointment for a terminally ill dog, I give them a break in the price.”
Other prices around town: Carla Seidlinger of Photographic Creations (619-462-4741; studiocarla.com) offers dog photography for $90, which includes an 8x10 portrait. If clients would like to take their dog to a shooting location, she charges $125.
FurBaby (619-523-8614, aquariostudio.com) offers $49 photo sessions for a half hour at the beach or in their studio in Ocean Beach.