WPSU Connoisseur's Dinner Auction Winner

Five. Five dogs total. I thought to myself, oh, this will be nothing. After all, I photograph 5 kittens at a time at PAWS often during kitten season. And dogs are usually easier to work with. Plus, I have acres and acres of land at my disposal. This will be fun. And it was!

The more sessions I shoot, the more I’m learning each one needs time for all of us (that’s me and the dogs) to get into a groove. Some dogs aren’t sure of the big black thing in front of my face. Others aren’t sure why they are being asked to sit over and over again. Some don’t care because they learned quickly that treats are involved. But all of my sessions usually start out with a bang when the dogs are intrigued by my nosies and then the end of the sessions when we’ve all figured out how to work together so we each get what we want. For me - that’s great photos. For the dogs - it’s playtime, rewards and treats! 

And so that’s how it went with this session of five dogs. The winner of a session I auctioned at the WPSU Connoissuer’s Dinner last February. It took some doing since the dogs are used to having free roam on their several hundred acre farm. And they obviously were quite attached to their mom who runs with them on a regular basis. But eventually they warmed up to my husband and I and we were able to capture probably the largest variety of images I’ve ever taken during a session. 

Because 4 of the 5 dogs were younger and more energetic, I focused largely on action and journalistic style photos. This really allowed me to capture their personalities. I got some goofy facial expressions too as they attempted to catch treats we tossed and chase toys into the fields. Ultimately, as they slowed down and became calmer toward the end of the session, I was able to capture the best images during our two hour fall evening together. 

It took several weeks to get this day to happen. Mother Nature had other plans most of the days we scheduled the session. Plus busy schedules which inevitably meant those nights were the best days weather wise. So common here in Happy Valley, I’ve learned patience will reward my clients if we just go along with it, even if it means waiting weeks, sometimes months for it all to come together. And it always does. Opening the files on my computer the next night, I knew we had done the right thing by waiting for just the right light. Fall sunsets are just so glorious with the golden tones against a backdrop of rust, yellow and brown foliage. We missed the peak of fall, but had just enough left that it wasn’t quite winter yet either. 

Here are a few favorites from this session.


Silent auction winner

You may recall earlier this year I donated a couple of sessions to silent auctions to raise money for local charities. I photographed one of the winners recently. After we met for their planning sessions, this family decided they wanted a fall session. I suggested the beautiful Penn State campus which was the perfect location since they have ties to the area dating back to childhood. 

Expecting cooler weather in October, we ended up scheduling the session during the heat wave that hit the northeast feeling more like a summer day instead. In spite of it cooling off in the evenings, I think all of us were plenty warm by the end of the day! We were at least prepared and brought plenty of water for the dogs. 

I can't remember if Tillie, Toby and Trixie had ever been on the campus before, but they definitely had fun watching all the little critters run around. It took a great deal of effort to convince them that what was going on in front of the camera was far more interesting! 

Like many dogs, it took this trio a little while before they settled down and began working the camera. But once they did, they were fantastic models and we were able to get some great shots. I'm happy to report that no squirrels or chipmunks were harmed in the process! Being terriers, which are bred for rodent control, the drive to chase and hunt small critters is pretty high! And there were plenty of small animals running around as they busied themselves preparing for a long winter. 

Here are a few images from their session! If you'd like to bid on a session for your own pets, stay tuned! I'm excited to announce that I will be donating a couple sessions to local fundraisers again next year. Details will be coming soon! 


Happy Halloween!

I don’t watch much TV and when I do, I usually fast forward through the commercials. Except when I see a dog or a cat. Like in the Subaru car ads. Or the amazon prime ad with the golden retriever and baby who is scared of him, but not her stuffed lion. You know which one I mean, right? Because you can’t help but watch it over and over again feeling sorry for the dog. The baby’s dad notices how sad the dog is and orders a lion halloween costume from amazon prime. Suddenly the baby is no longer afraid of her dog anymore. I’m not an amazon prime member, but this makes me want to sign up. Almost. But I still love this ad. 

Yes, I couldn’t help myself. I bought Izzy her own lion mane so she could dress up as a lion for Halloween. Now, isn’t she just the most adorable dog/lion you’ve ever seen???

Happy Halloween!!! 


Hayley | State College pet photography

I ask every client why they are choosing to get professional photos taken of their furry family members now. It’s important to me to know what is going on at this time in their life that prompted them to call me. After all, we don’t hire professional photographers often. Sure, we take photos almost daily with our cell phones, but hiring a professional photographer is generally reserved for special occasions. When Hayley’s family called me, they felt it was important to have a family photo now before it was too late. Hayley is 11 and in greyhound years, that’s getting up there. She’s still healthy and active, but they’ve noticed signs of her slowing down. So we set up a session for this fall. 


Our original date ended up being too overcast and frankly, too warm. So we rescheduled for a few days later when the temperatures dropped to a more typical range. It was a beautiful sunny day and as the earth rotates, I find the golden hour even more spectacular in the fall than in the spring and summer. 

Hayley was a former racing dog who was rescued when she was about 2 years old. Retired because she was too slow, she found her way to PA and into the hearts of one couple. They had dogs before, but Hayley was their first greyhound. It didn't take long before they saw how special this girl is. They doted on and treated her like a princess. Here in central PA, we have a wonderful organization, Nittany Greyhounds, that has found homes for over 1000 retired racing greyhounds. Hayley was one of them. 


Hayley was a little nervous and anxious when she got to the park. Lots of kids were out playing on the basketball court nearby. She wasn’t sure of all the brush under her feet in the field either. So I had her owners walk her around a little bit to shake off some of her nervous energy. Always on alert, it was hard to distract her with noises and flying objects as we tried to get her attention toward the camera. After a while, I swear she felt she was too mature for these kinds of games and tuned me out completely. In spite of that, we did get some great shots of her relaxed and ears perked forward. In fact, I might even go as far as saying she is smiling! 

Hayley's family portrait all hang on the wall next to an older family photo taken when she was much younger. It's sessions like this that I am grateful for being a part of capturing a moment in time that will be cherished for many years to come. 

Lessons from the Dog - Never Hold a Grudge

Has your dog ever stomped off because you said he couldn’t share your dinner? Or stopped talking to you because you stepped on her tail? Or threw his toys at the wall when you came home late and didn’t immediately feed him? Dogs ability to forgive and not hold grudges is one the biggest lessons we can learn from them. 


Think about it. One stressful day I took it out on my dog when I yelled at her because she ripped her toy apart. Nothing she hasn’t done plenty of other times. But this time it angered me because I had just finished vacuuming the house and was waiting for guests to arrive. She didn’t hold that against me. In fact, if you believe dogs ask for forgiveness, that’s exactly what she did. She sat down by my feet and nudged my elbow trying to get me to pet her. Which I did. And told her I was sorry. Later that night I apologized again and gave her extra belly rubs and kisses. She probably thought I was crazy, I seriously doubt that incident was still on her mind a couple of hours later. But it was on mine. 

They say dogs’ short term memory is a mere seconds to minutes long. Which is why when your dog meets someone new and finally accepts her into your home, but after a trip to the bathroom, she goes through the greeting ceremony all over again. This also explains why you punishing your dog hours after they had an accident in the house doesn’t work. They have long forgotten they did this and have no idea why you are so angry.

Humans on the other hand, can remember details for days, weeks and even years later. If it was something that caused feelings to be hurt, we’re very capable of holding a grudge. How many times have you let your day be ruined because of a petty fight with a co-worker? Or showed up at the office angry because a driver cut you off on your way to work? Or snapped at your child because the store clerk was clearly upset that she had to stop what she was doing to ring up your purchases?

Our dogs are excellent teachers. I’m sure I’ve given my girls Izzy and Kita plenty of reasons to be mad at me and hold a grudge. But they never do. In fact, I’m going to take a cue from them and work harder on being more forgiving.


Lessons from the dog - never hold a grudge