I'm Holly, AKA Seattle Dog Photographer on Instagram, and I am bonkers about dogs! I hail from Michigan (and if you're a UofM fan, you'll get the pun!) where I thrived as a professional dog walker, dog trainer and award winning pet sitter for nearly 25 years. I also am a certified dog psychologist. (Yes, it's a thing!) I have spent my entire adult life building a business that centers around dogs.
When we moved to the PNW in 2015, I was recovering from compassion fatigue. As I traversed the emotional path to recovery, I found that writing about my experience was cathartic for me. I ended up creating a book about my experience, in the hopes it will help other pet professionals who are suffering from compassion fatigue.
This was not the end of my journey with dogs, however.
I knew I still wanted to work with dogs, and, once I had recovered and felt healthy again, I picked up my camera. I attended photography classes at New York Institute of Photography for 18 months. By May of 2018, I was ready to get to work.
I hung out my shingle and my journey into the world of dog photography began. I continued to study and become a member of Hair of the Dog Academy, studied commercial art and became a contributing artist for Animal Haus Media (a pet stock photography company) while doing volunteer photography for Seattle Humane. In 2019, I became a member of Unleashed Education and took part in a series of pet photography challenges. In 2020, I self published a book called "Send Me; Working Dogs of the Pacific Northwest" which features over 70 working dogs. (Creating this book was photography boot camp for me!) I created the book as a fundraiser for Project Canine, in Seattle. Then, in 2020, when the world stopped due to the pandemic, I realized that the therapy dogs for Project Canine couldn't do their therapy visits. With the help of Project Canine, I created a book called "The Dogs of Project Canine" that featured images of the therapy dogs and their messages to the humans who couldn't see them. The books were donated to local hospitals, nursing and rehabilitation facilities, children's hospitals and the local VA. Over 2000 books were distributed.
Also in 2019, I became a founder of The Limelight Pet Project. The mission of Limelight is to feature harder to adopt dogs with professional photography, videography and interviews of the people who know the animal the best. We are partnered with Fox13 Seattle who feature these pets on their Sunday Morning News Show. Every Tuesday is Limelight Day for me.
My passion is for all dogs, but I have a special affinity for working dogs. When I say working dogs, I mean any dog that has a job. From hunting dogs to therapy dogs to scent detection dogs, I love them all. Probably because I identify with them. They need a job and without one, they will create one. I'm kind of the same way. A border collie in human form, if you will. I will go out of my way to work with a working dog team and they are my top priority. I feel the need to not only photograph them and tell their story, but, also, to educate the public about working dogs and the many, many, many jobs they are capable of.
My hands on experience training dogs includes: working dogs, bird dogs, scent detection dogs, leader dogs for the blind, dock diving & obedience. I could go on and on about this, but I will leave it here.
If you have read this far, I will reward your patience with 5 things that are uniquely me:
If you've read all of this, you will now understand why I work with dogs. I strive to create images that highlight a dog's character & showcase her magic. I choose epic locations so that your dog will feel like the superhero she truly is.
Dogs are amazing creatures and, as their stewards, we must give them the very best we have to offer.
If reading this has inspired you to book a session with me, the process is super simple!
Check out my home page for the current photography experience and then send me an email.
It's really that simple. If we decide to move forward, I'll send you a questionnaire about your dog, so I can get to know her a bit and we will set the date. I hold dates with a $199 booking fee, unless you are an active working dog handler. If so, your booking fee is waived and you will be extended a 25% discount on all printed products. (Just my way of saying thank you for the work that you do!)
When I'm shooting, there are moments when I just put my camera down and watch. She may be interacting with her humans or sniffing the grass or running to fetch a ball... the fact that dogs bond with us and accept us as we are is the definition of dog magic!
2022 did not work out the way I had hoped it would. I had plans for some pretty big projects leading into 2023. Imagine my surprise when, while watching holidays movies one afternoon, I realized I did not want to work on these projects! I gave myself some time to ponder this realization and figure out what it was that I DID want to do. It all boiled down to me wanting to spend more time with dogs and less time on my computer, less time on social media & less time inside.
When I let my imagination run wild with this thought of spending more time with dogs, I realized that my life was cluttered with too much "stuff" and not enough play time with dogs. If I let this idea become fully realized, I would meet every dog in Seattle and I let this drive my plans for 2023.
I went so far as to create a list of "Seattle Dogs I Want To Meet" that I follow on Instagram. And...I've met some of them!
DogJoy! is a made up word (I do that sometimes) that encompasses all of the joyful things about being with a dog. It will mean different things to different people, of course.
But, for me DogJoy! is:
I could go on and on about this, but I know you're a busy person with things to do and your dog would probably appreciate some play time right now or a walk.
So go! Go spend time with your dog with these thoughts fresh in your mind and see if you can find DogJoy! If you do, let me know! Reach out on social media or send me an email.
Hugs to your dog!
Pop Ups for 2023
I am so excited about this new kind of portrait session, that my buttons are bursting!
They are called Pop Up Portrait Sessions!
What's a Pop Up Portrait Session?
A Pop Up Portrait Session is designed to create social media content for you and your dog!
Why is it Pop Up?
It's Pop Up because I'll be a different location for each Pop Up Session and there will only be a few days notice. There will be time and space for 3 sessions, and then, POOF!, I'm gone.
What is the result?
You will receive 5 fully edited, social media sized, watermarked digital files - artist's choice - uploaded to a private, online gallery. You can download your digital files directly on to your favorite device.
What if I want more files?
You will have the opportunity to up-size your gallery at any time. You will also have the opportunity to create artwork, if you desire.
There is no obligation to up-size your gallery OR purchase artwork.
I get the opportunity to meet new people & their dogs, create some amazing imagery and have some fun!
I'm convinced. How do I sign up?
Sign up for the newsletter, because the Pop Ups are announced there FIRST! If you miss the announcement in the newsletter, you can follow me on Facebook and Instagram. The announcement will be made days after the newsletter and only if there are sessions available. Pop Up Portrait Sessions will be announced on Social Media just days before the event!
You never know where I will pop up next!
It pays to stay in the know! Just keep your eyes peeled for The Pop Up Portrait Session logo in the newsletter and on social media.
These Pop Up Portrait Sessions are $99. (Yes, that includes the 5 social media sized, watermarked, digital files!)
As a newsletter subscriber, you have the first opportunity to book a Pop Up Sessions. There are only 3 sessions per Pop Up!
My hope is to be all over Seattle this year, meeting new people and their dogs. Oh, and having tons of fun!
Hugs to Your Dog,
Tails of the Pacific Northwest
Registration is now closed. The book is full!
Tails of the Pacific Northwest will feature over 40 dogs who live and work in the PNW (& a few who live a little outside of the PNW).
The book will be available for the Holiday Season 2023.
Keep you eye on social media for updates about how the photo shoots are going and some behind the scenes fun!
Thank you to all who have registered and to all who are supporting the dogs and their humans. I am looking forward to seeing old friends and making new friends.
Tails of the Pacific Northwest Limited Edition Coffee Table Book
Down & Dirty
One of the best ways for a dog photographer to create unique imagery is to get on the dog's eye level. It's a basic lesson that we, as dog photographers, are taught from the very beginning. This means, getting on the ground and having your camera at the same level as the dog's eyes.
It's the same in portrait photography, except those photographers are working with a human instead of a dog.
The eyes make or break an image, so getting on "eye level" with your subject is very important.
Whether you are a professional photographer or you just love taking photos of your dog, my number 1 tip is to get level with the dog's eyes. It produces imagery that is more engaging. However, there are a few of us who have taken this lesson one step further and heeded the advice of Unleashed Education's instructor Craig Turner Bullock and have gotten even lower. Craig is passionate about dog photography and his enthusiasm bubbles over when he teaches. While shooting on the beach, he's been known to dig holes in the sand so he and his camera can get as low as possible to create the perfect image. (Sand is a sworn enemy to all DLSR cameras, just so you understand the risk he takes putting his camera in a sand hole). Along with participating in Unleashed Education's photo challenges, I'm also fortunate enough to have Craig as my photography coach and business mentor. When Craig says "Get Lower!" he means it!
I have taken his advice to heart! On every single photo session that I do, I create at least 80% of my images from the "low as I can go" perspective. If I'm lucky, I can position my subject on a perch of some sort, and I can shoot up, such as the image above of Tank, in front of the mirrored wall at MoPop. with the Space Needle reflected in the glass. This shot is "So Seattle" that I've been asked to re-create it for several clients.
After creating many images from the "low as I can go" perspective, I decided to get creative. I bought a pair of neoprene waders and got in the waters of the Puget Sound to see how low I could get in the water, without dunking my camera. This led to the image above that I created. While it's not an astonishing image, it represents the moment in time when I knew I had to get UNDER the water as well. I mean, you can't get any lower than that, right?
The image above is my first attempt at shooting at the water line. It's NOT easy! I have spent the last 18 months perfecting shots like this and have learned so much! But, that's a blog post for another time.
After creating this image, I was hooked on the "get as low as you can" process.
I will utilize picnic tables, park benches, down trees, or large rocks to get the dog positioned above me. Then, I just shoot upwards. These images are usually very engaging and brings all of the focus (AH! A pun!) right to the dog's eyes. Also, This vantage point always lends itself to amazing silhouette images!
Dear reader, I don't know if you know this about me, but I'm an over-achiever. A border collie in human form. My unofficial motto is "If it's worth doing, it's worth over doing". It's not on purpose, mind you. It's just how I roll. I'm a short little person with a bit of a squeaky voice, and rarely get taken seriously, so I've learned if I over achieve, I get taken a little more seriously.
Anyway, this personality trait has spilled over into my photography, so when I get "as low as I can go", that means, I'm laying on my stomach during most photo sessions. Doesn't matter if the grass is wet, or if there is mud or even if I've laid in something....let's say...organic. (Yes, this has happened on more than one occasion.)
Knowing that I'm going to get down and dirty during a photo session, my wardrobe has changed considerably! No longer do I wear my favorite pair of jeans and my cutest tennis shoes because they will get ruined.
I now have a pair of briar pants, several pair of Hunter rain boots, a pair of water resistant overalls and even a pair of fishing waders for shooting on the beach.
I do have to admit to thinking to myself before a session "I'm not going to get wet (or dirty, or muddy), so I'm just going to wear my jeans". Oh, dear reader, I kid myself!
The way I look at it now is if haven't walked away from a photo session covered in dirt and/or mud, or soaking wet, than I haven't done my job.
So, if you ever witness one of my photo session, I will most likely be laying on the ground. This is especially challenging in the snow, because I have a hard time getting up. Rolling over seems to help, but it is the most ridiculous thing you've ever seen and 99% of the time the dog thinks I'm inviting him/her to play and I end up back in the snow on my butt. Honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way. Down and dirty is the way to go, in my opinion.
Hugs to your dog!
Seattle Dog Photographer