Izzy turns 9!

I know I’v’e said this before, but time sure does fly! It seems like it was only yesterday that I brought this cute little roly poly puppy home! But last week she celebrated her 9th birthday!

golden retriever birthday party

In dog years she's 9
In hooman years she's 56
If she were a Disney character she would be Eeyore
If she were a human she'd be the laziest teenager ever
Her favorite food is pretty much anything
Her favorite thing to do is be by my side
She loves Florida only because she can swim in the ocean
She prefers to ride in the front seat of the car
She hates it when you blow air in her ear
But we love her to the moon and back!

golden retriever birthday hat

I’ve always enjoyed doing something special to commemorate Izzy’s birthday. I know she doesn’t really care, but honestly, it’s just an excuse to get out my camera and photograph her. One day I’ll be grateful that I have these photos marking milestones in her life.

puppy cake 3 tier bone cake

This year, I decided to do something simple. I picked up a box of Puppy cake in peanut butter flavor and some peanut butter ice cream. Once I cooked the cake, I used a bone shaped cookie cutter and cut out enough to make a 3 layer cake. Then I used a smaller bone shape cookie cutter for the top layer. The box comes with mix to make icing - it’s really simple, add enough water to the consistency you want and spread it on top or in between the layers. Izzy enjoyed her cake in about, oh, 4 or 5 bites. The hard part was keeping her from chowing down before I got any photos of her with the cake!

golden retriever eating birthday cake

The morning of Izzy’s birthday, the first thing I thought about was how my other golden retriever, Mika, was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma 3 days after she turned 9. Seven months later we said goodbye to her as she lost her battle to cancer. While Izzy shows no sign of illness, I know it’s probably just a matter of time. Canncer is so prevalent in the breed causing the average age to be younger than it used to be. Knowing this, I intend to treasure each day I have with her, while keeping all my fingers and paws crossed that we have many more years together. Happy birthday Izzy!

Powerful portraits workshop experience

Sometimes it’s good to step out of the box and do something different. Which I did recently when I attended a powerful portraits workshop with Fine Art photographer Kelly Schneider This was so outside my comfort zone - there wasn’t a single dog, cat, puppy or kitten there! But it was a great day and I learned so much that I can’t wait to put into practice.


As my knowledge of lighting grows, I’m finding myself drawn to a certain style more and more. I’ve been studying images by photographers who are utilizing strobes to create incredible drama and almost a 3D feel to their work. I had some idea of how they did this, but so far in my attempts to replicate it, I had failed. Little did I know that when I signed up for Kelly’s workshop, that I was about to finally get the answers to all my questions.


The amazing thing to me was that I believed the way to create the look I wanted was through post processing. Or maybe a special light modifier. Instead, it was much more simple than I expected. Just a couple of tweaks in the way I set up my studio, and I would be able to create the style I have been pondering for months now.


One of the things I read about from previous attendees to Kelly’s workshops is not only does he teach, but he gives everyone the opportunity to practice with our own cameras. No more going home with pages of notes, but no experience on how to create what we just learned. While it was hard to have a lot of control over our setups with the number of photographers there, it was just enough for me to come home with images that I can study and refer back to as I begin to practice on my own. Kelly had 2 models for us to work with, which was awesome! Often, at workshops, the attendees act as models - many of us who are uncomfortable in front of the camera. But the 2 young women clearly knew how to pose and take direction as we moved our lighting allowing us, to concentrate on mastering our techniques.


We used a variety of lighting setups, some of which I had never photographed with before, like constant light. It was nice to experiment with different equipment and see the results without having to borrow, rent or invest in before deciding if it was right for me. There were pros and cons to the options, but for now, I’m going to stick with the strobe that I currently own. I did, however, order some new accessories that will allow me to better create the lighting style that I learned. I’m pretty excited about that!


So while there were no furry creatures at this workshop to photograph, one thing I want to do more of is photograph people with their pets. Everything I learned will help me create even better portraits for my clients. Are you ready for your fine art portrait featuring the furry members of your family? Drop me a message and let’s start planning your session today!

Summer's here!

Ok, well summer may not be here for another 3 1/2 weeks, but with record breaking temperatures here in southwest Florida, it feels like summer made a grand entrance - and an early one at that! I’m still in the mindset of life in PA - looking forward to the temperatures finally warming up - going for a swim in a lake, hiking a mountain, BBQ dinners and relaxing evenings on the backyard deck. I’ve got a feeling I’ll be riding my bike less, spending more time indoors in the air conditioning and cooling off in the evenings swimming in the pool instead!

With average temps between 90 - 92, figuring in the humidity, the real feel in the sunshine state can be around 100! Yikes! I’m certainly used to this. However, we might only experience temps that high in PA for 2 weeks out of the entire summer. Which got me to thinking about my dogs and the heat. Here are a few things I’ve already discovered:

  • Take longer walks in the mornings and evenings

  • Avoid walking on the hot pavement if possible. Even better if you can walk on the grass

  • Take water with you - it’s so easy to get dehydrated

  • Cool off with a swim in the pool or playing in the water from a hose

  • If I’m hot, my dogs who have a fur coat are even hotter!

Here’s to a fun and safe summer!

Thanks for reading!


dogs at Phillippi Estate Park

Featured | Canvas Press blog

I woke up this morning to a Facebook post from a fellow pet photographer and friend who shared news that we had been included among the top 50 pet photographers in the United States. I am honored to be featured in this blog post among some of the best in the business - including some photogs whose work I have admired for years. To read the entire blog post, click HERE.

Canvas press blog post

What I learned at the Veterinarian this week

When it comes to my dog’s health, I give them medication only when it’s necessary. So if you read my recent blog about tittering, you know that I prefer to have a titer test done before having them vaccinated. If you missed that blog post, click HERE. I’m also cautious about giving them preventative medication. But I won’t skip it altogether when the side effects of the medicine out weigh any illnesses they might get. So when my dogs were due for their annual heart worm test, I asked my Florida vet about this. And I was surprised to learn what preventative medication I should be giving them year round.

Everyone knows that Florida is a warm climate. While we celebrate four seasons up north, in the south, there are really only two seasons - rainy and dry. Thus mosquitos are abundant year round, not just 7 or 8 months like they are up north. And because of that, heart worm is more prevalent in the south than up north. Heart worm is a serious and potentially fatal disease. It is spread when an infected mosquito bites our dogs thus making heart worm more prevalent in the southern United States. Thus, my vet recommended we give heart worm medication to our dogs year round. When we lived in PA, in the winter months I didn’t medicate them for it since mosquitos can’t survive in the cold.

I also learned that while there are ticks in the south, it’s not nearly as prevalelant as it is up north. I have always given my dogs flea/tick medication most of the year since ticks were a constant problem especially recently. After Izzy was diagnosed with Lyme disease when she was a puppy, I have always been a little more aggressive about being proactive in preventing her or my other dogs to contract this disease.

So, in short, I’ll be giving my girls heartgard year round and only treating for flea and tick medication if we’ll be in areas where ticks are found or if I find any fleas on them. I will keep Nexgard in my medicine closet so I’ll always have it on hand.

Thanks for reading!


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golden retriever among ferns