Feel free to ask me any and all questions that are on your mind too. It's normal to have them and you can ask as many as you want.
Of course all of the stuff I'm hauling along will seem strange to your pal, and have unfamiliar smells attached to it, so I'll just leave it sitting there for him or her to sniff and poke and climb on and explore for a bit.
I'll spend some time talking with you and letting your friend get used to me being around, especially if your buddy is a cat and I'm in your home. Sometimes the best thing to do is ignore your companion entirely until he or she gets curious enough to come and check me out. If you and I are relaxed and having a good time, eventually he or she will too.
No loud noises, no sudden movements, just sitting and talking. And we'll take as long as we need to get to that point. There's no timer and we don't need to rush the process. It takes as long as it takes.
You are a very important part of this process. All the trust your pet has is in you; that's critical in bringing out the personality and unique qualities of your furry roommate. So you may be standing next to me, behind me, or moving around close to your friend. The point is to help her be absolutely comfortable with what's happening. That's how we find the magic.
If we're indoors I'll set up light poles, the soft boxes that hold the lights, diffusers, all while we chat. I'll need a place to plug in three cords; they can be all in one spot or on different walls; if we don't have enough outlets in one room I'll have an extension cord with me. Another thing to keep in mind is that it doesn't need to be a big room; the light poles don't take up much space and I don't mind climbing over, under or on top of the furniture (as long as you don't mind of course).
Many people are concerned about the way their homes look or, rather, how it will look in the photograph. No worries; unless you want the room to be part of the photo, it isn't going to be a significant feature at all. Go back to the gallery of photos on this website; do you see the animals or do you focus on items around them? It's all about the animals.
About the lighting. When you've taken snapshots at home and you use the flash element on your camera, what happens with your pal's gorgeous, soulful eyes? Weird 'moon eyes', right? The lights I bring to this process don't flash. Nothing to startle your friend or affect the way his eyes look in the pictures. I use light bulbs that provide continuous light, don't generate heat, and produce a 'true' color (neither warm nor cool) so your buddy's coat and eye colors are reflected accurately in the photos you'll receive.
If we're outdoors, I may be using a post-mounted diffuser to soften the sunlight if it's really bright, or to alter the light refraction if it's overcast. Here, too, you'll be part of the process; I may even have you holding the diffuser panel if your friend finds it a bit intimidating.
And now it's time to start snapping. I may shoot 200 frames, I may shoot 300. I take as many as I need to capture something you're going to enjoy forever. I'll have several lenses with me and I may change them out part way through the process. On the other hand, if things are rolling along wonderfully I may use just one throughout. I firmly believe a photographer has to be attuned to her subjects to be able to go with the moment, make adjustments, and capitalize on unanticipated opportunities.
I don't try to force a predetermined shot, or stick with some formula. There is no formula that can be imposed on these situations; they're as unique as that wonderful furry friend you love. I take what your pal is offering, and work with that.
You and I will be talking throughout this process, and you'll continue to be part of the activities. I may ask you to dangle a favorite toy just out of sight of the lens, or you may be jumping around behind me to catch your buddy's attention. I'll explain what I'm doing, and why, so you understand what's going on.
Once I'm finished shooting, I'll pack up all the stuff and be on my way. I'll review all the photos, combing through each frame. It's time consuming, but I try to get them edited and organized within 5 days of our session.
I'll place the best images on a website dedicated to your pal and give you the link to that site so you can view them. From there you can order whichever prints you want, using the links on the website. These will be high resolution images that can be printed as small as wallet size or as large as a poster, and will be shipped directly to you. The page will be active for at least a year and you'll be able to send the link to family and friends who may also want to view the pictures. They too will be able to order prints off the website.
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