Location scouting - Phillippi Estate Park

While I’ve been to Phillippi Estate Park before, it’s been a couple of years. Two things that struck me about this location when I first discovered it was how awesome the light is and how beautiful the property is. Oh, and dogs are allowed! Ok, so that makes it three things that I love! This weekend I decided to go back and explore it again with a fresh pair of eyes. I loaded the car with all 3 of our dogs and my husband to head off for an adventure. When we arrived, we walked around the side of the main building just in time to hear over the loudspeaker, “I now pronounce you husband and wife!” As we came around the corner, the bride and groom were walking down the aisle in our direction. Afraid my dogs would start barking, I quickly ran to the other side of the sidewalk and hid behind a tree. The happy couple and bridal party seemed genuinely happy to see the dogs. And to my delight, the girls were well behaved and didn’t make a ruckus barking and carrying on at the wedding party as they walked our way.


We headed off to another section of the property to explore. I set up my gear and took dozens of test photos. The longer we stayed, the more I just loved it. Photographers always shoot with the light and I just couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful evening. I tried new things, practiced old techniques and checked off a bucket list photo I had been wanting to shoot for a while. Some photos I took for specific reasons and I’ll share more when the time is right. But for right now, here’s one of my favorite images I captured of Kita. This is definitely going to be one of my go to locations for client sessions.

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terrier mix southwest florida park

Sarasota K9 Search and Rescue seminar training

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of photographing the Sarasota K9 Search and Rescue training seminar in Sarasota County. I’ve always admired the dog teams who are involved in finding missing, lost and even human remains to help bring families back together or to provide answers and closure. I met a few of the team members back in January at the Bark for Life event in Venice. Later, they contacted me and asked if I would be willing to photograph their HRD (human remain detection) training this spring. They are a nonprofit organization available for deployment 365 days a year. While this seminar was a 4 day event, training is non-stop. The dogs and their handlers put in hours of their time and spend thousands of dollars so they may selflessly help first responders. I was honored to be asked to document the hard work that takes place behind the scenes.

In typical Florida fashion, it was a picture perfect day - partly cloudy with temps in the mid to high 80s. Several area businesses and parks allowed the teams to use their facility and land to train on. It’s important that the dogs work in situations exactly like they will find when involved in a search and rescue operation. So they worked in open fields, near houses, in rubble, and among objects resembling what you'd find in collapsed buildings.

The teams ranged from novice to experienced and had traveled from all over the country to attend.
I saw a wide range of dog breeds, the most common one being a Labrador retriever. They ranged in age from young adults to 8 or 9 years old. The ability of dogs to be able to find a scent among so many smells is absolutely amazing. I have developed even more respect for what these dogs and their handler do after this weekend.

If you’d like to learn more about the Sarasota K9 Search and Rescue, click HERE to visit their website. I took over 1000 photos the day I was there, it’ll take some time to sort, cull and edit them down. But in the meantime, here’s a quick peak of some of the teams in action.

Thanks for reading!

 
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golden retriever search and rescue K9
Sarasota K9 Search and Rescue
Sarasota K9 search and rescue dog
German Shepherd K9 search and rescue
Sarasota K9 search and rescue lab

Whose home is it really?

I don’t watch much TV, but when I do, it’s usually on HGTV. I love seeing the transformation of old homes from designers like Joanna Gaines, The Property Brothers and others. I never tire of looking at home decorating magazines, or browsing Home Goods for home decor. Sometimes I think I could be happy as an interior designer.

While I love the home I own in PA, it’s not my dream home. One of the features I love most about this house is the fenced in yard. I’m partial in part because my husband rebuilt the fence a couple of years ago and it turned out fabulous. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into this project. But it was well worth it.

The rental home we’re living in now does not have much of a yard, let alone a fenced in area. Which means we have to walk the dogs every time they need to go out. It’s good exercise for all of us, but it’s not exactly enjoyable when it’s raining out. Really, what we miss most is allowing the dogs to run freely, playing, chasing balls and each other. There really is truth to the saying a tired dog is a well behaved dog. I can tell they have more pent up energy because walking isn’t the same. And I feel bad that they don’t get to spend more time outdoors.

In addition to watching HGTV, I also enjoy looking at homes during open houses. It’s fun to think about what would make a home perfect for my family and I. My husband and I have been spending part of our weekends touring homes in the Venice and Sarasota area. It’s a great way for us to get to know the area better. We’ve discovered parks, shopping centers and parts of the town we never knew existed before. While we are touring the home, we always chat about what we like, what we don’t like and what we would do to make it the right home for us. This process has really made it clear that one of the most important features for us is having a fenced in yard. Because some neighborhoods have deed restrictions that don’t allow fences, we are also learning where we would not want to live.

I haven’t found my dream home yet, but I am getting closer to knowing what it must have. And I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that the number one requirement is being led by my dogs!

Are you living in your perfect home? How much do your pets play a role in determining what makes your home the right one for you? Leave me a comment and tell me about your home!

Thanks for reading!
xoxo

 
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Australian Shepherd on southwest FL beach


Outdoor Adventure: Myakka River State Park

I’ve always loved spending time in Myakka River State Park. One of the oldest and and largest parks in the state, I’ve been coming here ever since my husband’s parents took me and the rest of the family on a boat tour one holiday season. Even though it was a cold winter day (when the northerners are wearing parkas, it’s definitely cold!), the beauty of the mostly undeveloped land left a huge impression on me.

Myakka River State Park Spanish moss canopy

We didn’t see any alligators that day, but the experience was enough to make me want to go back and visit again. Each time I went, I discovered something new I hadn’t seen before. Now that I’m living in southwest Florida, it’s been fun exploring the 37,000 acre park. Recently my husband and I brought our bikes so we could hop on and off the many trails to hike giving us a new and different perspective on scenes we had only glanced at before.

Myakka River State Park spanish moss

I’m fortunate that several of my co-workers are also photographers. We’ve chatted often about getting together to shoot one day and quickly settled on Myakka for our first adventure. None of us had been to the Deep Hole - a place in the park I had only recently learned about. It involves getting a permit as soon as the park opens and hiking about 4.5 miles round trip. The day of our photoshoot, it was a cloudy morning, something we were all grateful for as the day quickly became hot and humid. This is an adventure you definitely have to plan for, which unfortunately I had not done. But at least now I know what to expect and how to make this a better experience the next time I visit.

Myakka RIver State Park Deep Hole

The hole is known for dozens of alligators that congregate on the water’s edge. It’s estimated that the sinkhole is about 140 feet deep which is why the alligators come here when the waters recede in the dry season. We didn’t stay long enough to see what others have photographed, but we did see the alligators moving toward land during the time we were there. One fellow was close enough to the edge that we were able to get some really great shots without needing a super long telephoto lens.

Myakka RIver State Park alligator

We made sure to get a group shot before we left the park. It’s not like we saw a lot of folks out here, they only give out 30 permits a day, so dragging a tripod on the entire hike was worth it! Now that I’ve learned more about this mysterious Deep Hole, I can’t wait to go back!

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xoxo

 
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