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Project 52 Week 40: “Know Your Subject”

Nature is her element!  She is driven by scent and the fact that we have been taking K9 Nosework classes for a year and half doesn’t make outdoor walking any easier.  She is drawn to all the environmental smells  – from animals to plants to  whatever is left behind.  Kota loves  the outdoors and she loves hike!

This week’s 52 Week Pet Photography Project is,  “Know Your Subject”.  Awesome!  Let’s begin with one of my most challenging subjects in many ways… My own dog, Kota.

In this week’s discussion from the book “The Visual Toolbox”, photographer Duchemin talks about “the importance of understanding what you are really photographing”.  My idea of photographing Kota on the trails is to portray her happiness – what she enjoys doing so much!

Their are two main challenges in this assignment for me:

1.) she is not an off-leash dog (i am going out solo)

2.) she becomes so focused on scent it is difficult to catch her attention.

Kota and I set off on the trails behind our house.  I had no helper, no assistant for leash handling. Ahhh, good luck to me!   This was going to be interesting!  I grabbed my backpack camera bag.  A 30 foot long line would be too long.  A 6 foot lead, too short.  I attached 2 hunter orange leads together, put on my skijoring waist belt and carabiner clipped the leashes to Kota.  For safety, I kept her in a harness.  Yes, that would make things even more challenging for Photoshop afterward, but  I need the practice when it comes to that.   We were on our way!

taking a moment to “sniff”


what was that noise?


Stubbornness at it’s best! (I was ready to turn around)


I finally see a little fall color!


Happiness is afternoon trail hikes with mom 🙂

Duchemin also talks about the “heart of a photograph” in this chapter.  I photograph shelter dogs up for adoption at our local  MSPCA.  When I arrive to take pictures I am meeting many of  these dogs for the first time.  Some have just arrived at the shelter and are extremely stressed.  I can’t say that I “Know My Subject” (personally) at all in this case.  The one thing I do know is the type of image I am looking for and where the heart of it lies.  I aim for the “connection”.  When someone is searching to adopt a pet, I want them to see my photos and be able to look into the dog’s eyes and  be led right into their soul.  Having a background in dog training definitely helps with photographing shelter dogs.  A lot has to do with reading the body language and finding the right moments.  These are two photos from this week of available dogs that are up for adoption.



Pretty Jade

Do you see heart in all these images?  From knowing my own dog and what brings her joy, to meeting dogs for the first time searching for forever homes.  Even though I don’t truly know my subject every time, I consciously decide what I’m trying to capture and aim for that.  The same applies to doing a client photo session with a new dog for the first time.  I learn a bit about the dog through a questionnaire and then I discuss with the owner the types of shots they are looking to have captured.

Continue with our 52 Week Pet Photography Blog Circle and see what Pet Photographer Kim with BARKography on location in Hilton Head SC  is sharing with us today!  Thanks for stopping by and enjoy!





8 thoughts on “Project 52 Week 40: “Know Your Subject””

  1. Such a wonderful post. I have to say I’m glad I don’t live near you because Jade was talking to me. I’m sending good thoughts her way.

  2. Great post Darlene! Your photos of Kota really show her scent drive and curiosity in the woods! I loved your captions. I feel the same way you do about shelter photography.

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