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Border Collie Modeling

Meet a Hard-Working, Kickass Dog Model

I recently signed up for something called EMBARK Challenge photo sessions. If you know me, I love to learn new things and I continuously work to improve my photography craft. I’ve been a pet photographer for over 6 years now and I am also looking to stretch my creativity in any way that I can. 

Want to know a little something else about me?  I’m extremely competitive in just about anything I set out to do!

Does your dog have what it takes to be a dog model?

When I heard about this EMBARK Challenge thing, I knew I had to be a part of it – yep, I’m always up for a good challenge! Wondering what the heck this EMBARK Challenge is? It’s a 6 month dog photography challenge with pet photographers around the world competing.  We  have 12 unique shooting challenges to enter. A few weeks ago I put out a model call for some dogs that would like to participate in the challenge.  I got a great response and I will still be reaching out to some more of the “potential” models.

The competition is fierce.  My goal is to place in at least two top 20’s and a top 10. I contacted beautiful Herja’s mom about doing some of the challenges and she was game! I met Herja’s mom, Liz, years ago a when photographed her senior pictures with her dog, Zharia.  Both Zharia and Herja are also part of the Tails of the World book project sessions I photographed recently.   

Downtown Newburyport
Zharia and Herja – Tails of the World – Newburyport

One of the recent challenges was “composition”, focusing on “centering and symmetry”.  This would be a perfect challenge for Herja! She is a “working dog”, she loves to train, AND she is beautiful!   I decided that she would be a perfect model for this challenge.  I also took a variety of images that I might be able to use for other challenges. 

I met up with Herja and her mom at the Georgetown Rowley State Forest.  It’s about a 10 minute walk on the trails to a graffiti wall that is part of the overpass going over interstate 95. It’s a favorite spot of mine to do photos! 

Herja has a solid “sit-stay”, so we set her up right smack in the middle of the overpass walls.  Even though she is well trained, we kept her on leash. Herja is under a year old and keeping dogs on leash is safe for everyone, no matter how old the dogs are.  There are quite a few mountain bikers that pass through this area.  (The leash was removed in post processing).  I entered this image into the composition and I’m excited to share that it did make the Top 10 that week.  

Border Collie Modeling
Embark Challenge – Composition

What do I look for in a dog model?

1. Training

Does your dog have solid “sit-stay”?  A solid “down-stay”?  Can they sit for 10 seconds AND have you move away from them?  If you call them, will they come running…. to you?  Do they know of any fun tricks? Can they give paw, high five, or target your hand?  Do they play-bow? Roll over? Do bellies? (that’s one that my dog, Kota, loves to do!!!) Your dog doesn’t need to know how to do ALL of these, but some are important and necessary when I’m looking for a dog model. 

Herja knows a lot of fun tricks!  Here she is showing off her “paws crossed” while she’s in a relaxed “down-stay”.

Border Collie crossing paws
Down-Stay AND Crossing Paws

2. Confidence

Is your dog comfortable in new locations?  Can they work around distractions? Are they polite around other dogs or animals? How about moving vehicles? Are they calm around trucks and motorcycles?  Have the been to the beach and visited the ocean?  Are the waves scary? Confidence is important!  

Herja had no problem jumping up new things!  She was a champ doing a “down” on this  concrete. Her mom has worked a lot with her to gain confidence.

Dog Training down
Herja loves to jump on things

3. Looks

But Darlene, aren’t all dogs beautiful?  Well, yes, of course they are!  But sometimes I might be looking for a “specific” look! If I am looking for a dog to show off a harness or collar, I will need a dog with a shorter coat.  I might need a solid color dog if I’m looking for them to model something printed. Also, fur colors can matter.  Even eye colors might play a part.  

For this challenge session my priority was a well trained dog.  Herja is stunning so that was a plus!  She has beautiful eyes and I’ve got a thing for good ears. (Herja has a pretty good “head tilt” going on… do you think I should enter her into  the “say what” challenge with that head tilt?)

Border Collie head tilt
Rocking the head tilt

Do you have a dog that wants to work and give modeling a try?  Would your dog like to be added to my modeling portfolio for future gigs?  Apply below:

This post is part of a pet photographer’s blog circle. Click on the link at the end of each post to follow along. Next up is the amazing Angela Schneider of Big White Dog Photography in Spokane, WA, with five tips on how to give a dog a job. Angela does beautiful photography and has a way with words – I’m sure you will enjoy her post! Enjoy!

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6 thoughts on “Meet a Hard-Working, Kickass Dog Model”

  1. Sounds like Herja is a dog photographer’s dream! She’s gorgeous and clearly knows her poses. I’m a sucker for a poised paw cross every time! Gorgeous photos.

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