The Moment it all Clicked

I’m standing on the beach, it’s the end of the day and Mother Nature has graced us with yet another beautiful sunset. It’s a bit chilly and windy, but I don’t mind. After all, this is probably one of my most favorite places in the whole wide world. Not only that, but I’m here with one of my 3 furry best friends. It doesn’t get any better than this. Or does it?

I just wrapped up photographing Kita, my rescue terrier mix. I’ve had this vision for a long time now of a dog on a beach at sunset. For one reason or another, in the short time I’ve been in Florida, this hasn't happened yet. It’s either been too hot, the red tide so bad you can’t breathe or simply just an unspectacular sunset. But finally one night, it all came together for me.

I knew I nailed the shot before I even looked at the back of my camera. It’s simply the greatest feeling when that happens. But it was much more than just that. I was overcome with emotions as I realized everything I had been through in the last year led me to this moment. I picked Kita up and started swinging her around in circles laughing with delight. She was ecstatic too, though I’m not sure she understood yet why. I hugged her over and over again, thanking her for being with me on this journey. As the sun dipped below the horizon, I watched the last of the daylight filled with joy and gratitude. There was no doubt in my mind, I was right where I was supposed to be. Doing exactly what I was meant to do.

How did it take me so long to figure this out? Three things I have always loved - dogs, beaches and sunsets - at the same time in front of my camera. It can’t possibly be any better than that! Now, it’s clear to me why I felt lost for so long. Why I struggled creatively for months wondering if I would ever want to pick up my camera and photograph again. I needed to feel sadness, confusion and emptiness in order to really hear what was in my heart. It was hard at times. Maddening even. I’ve shed a lot of tears, thrown plenty of temper tantrums and oh, so many times, swore I was going to simply. just. give. Up.

But dreams have a way of nagging you, don’t they? And here, on the gulf coast of Mexico, I realized I was making mine come true. Everything simply, well, just clicked for me.

Thanks for reading!

xoxo

 
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terrier mix on Florida beach

Bark for Life of Venice FL


Bark for Life has always been a cause close to my heart. My first dog, Mika, was diagnosed with cancer when she was 9 years old. In spite of a hard fight, she lost her battle to hemangiosarcoma 7 months after she collapsed from a ruptured spleen. She was one of the lucky ones. The prognosis is usually pretty grim with a lifespan of 2 - 6 weeks from a diagnosis. We were fortunate to have found a wonderful oncology team at the University of Pennsylvania. I have no doubt it was because of them we had more time together before saying goodbye.

I was one of the vendors at Bark for Life in Venice Florida on Saturday January 12. As always, I had a blast meeting the dogs and networking with other pet businesses in the area. Here are a few of the pooches I met.

Sarasota K-9 Search & Rescue did a short demonstration. I learned quite a bit about this group and how the dogs work to find both live and dead bodies in missions all around southwest Florida and beyond.

Aries, the 14 month old Rottweiler was a huge hit with everyone. With a face like that, how could you not fall in love?!

There was a pet costume contest and this pup was a huge favorite among the crowd!

Daisy Mae had the longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen on a dog! Swoon!

Bella is one of the Sarasota K-9 Search dogs specializing in locating deceased bodies. She even has her own card to introduce herself to folks like me. How about that?

Simply adorable, right?

My tent and display of my work. It’s always a work in progress, but at least it gets better each time I attend an event.

Dogs and their owners lined up to be judged for best in show and which owner/dog team looks most alike. I don’t remember who won. I’m just glad I wasn’t asked to judge - it would have been hard to pick just one winner!

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Abby

It was another great weekend here in Southwest FL. On Saturday I headed down to Naples to photograph a friend's dog, Abby. Abby and her family split time between State College and Naples, so this was something we had been talking about for a while. I had hopes of creating some shots on the pier which is so popular and famous to the Naples residents, but was disappointed how crowded it was, even on a saturday night. I had only seen photos of this landmark, but once I was there, I could understand why folks would flock there. The beach is awesome and it is the perfect place to watch one the spectacular sunsets that Florida is so well known for.

Knowing I wasn't going to get what I hoped, Abby's mom suggested a location further down the beach which was less crowded and more interesting. I'm so glad we checked it out. Here I was able to get several great photos of Abby. I've only been to Naples a couple of times, so I have much to learn about the town. But I can certainly see why many snowbirds come down during the harsh winters. It's such a beautiful and quaint community!

I got some great ideas for photos while working with Abby, so I'll definitely be back! But here's one of my favorites from the weekend. And yes, we had a breathtaking sunset complete with wine, cheese and crackers thanks to my friend. Indeed, the perfect way to end a glorious day!

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