Halloween Mini Sessions

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I LOVE HALLOWEEN SEASON!! 
Haunted houses, dark and scary mazes, fun Halloween decorations...and of course, DOG COSTUMES!!

Okay, confession time: I'm not huge on dressing up our dogs. I like to call myself an "outdoor dog photographer," which means I love capturing photos of dogs outdoors, in their element, where seem happy and free. So, naturally, dressing up our dogs is kind of weird to me because dogs don't look the happiest when they are in them:

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But....I can't help it with dog costumes. They're so funny, silly, and playful.

So I make an exception for Halloween.

And on Saturday, October 21st, I want to give six dogs an opportunity to be professionally photographed in their Halloween costumes.

Here are the details:

  • Mini Sessions will be only 20-minutes long
  • Dog costumes are recommended
  • In-person photo reveal and ordering appointment
  • Prints, products, digital negatives are all sold separately
  • $49 to reserve your spot

But space is limited to six dogs only.
There's a small fee if you have an additional dog to photograph (but only 2 max per photo session).

If you're at all interested, please email me steamer@steamerlee.com; and we'll go from there!

German Shorthaired Pointers

I love meeting new dog breeds. There's such an incredible variety of dog breeds out there, each with their own quirky behavioral tendencies and personalities, and diverse features and colors and sizes. Herding dogs, hound dogs, working dogs, toy dogs, big dogs, small dogs, hunting dogs, companion dogs, service dogs, therapy dogs....so many!

When my wife and I were casually thinking about what kind of dog breed we wanted for our home, we made an unofficial list. My wife loves a dog to cuddle with, and I love a dog that can be active outdoors. We love Frenchies, of course. Pugs were on the list (Fenix was a Chihuahua-Pug mix), and my wife is in love with Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with their adorable ears.

But then we met Maya. We had no idea and had never heard of the West Highland White Terrier breed ("Westie," for short), until we found out a little 7-years young Maya needed a new home. And this little Westie's affectionate cuddles, playful spirit, and musical howl stole our hearts. Now we're just obsessed with Westies. Whenever we spot another Westie on the road, it's pure joy for us. 

So I'm always on the hunt to learn about new dog breeds. Maybe I have a hidden goal to photograph all the dog breeds in the world.

Then I heard about a German Shorthaired Pointer meet-up at Huntington Dog Beach.

What in the world is a German Shorthaired Pointer?! And why is "Shorthaired" one word instead of hyphenated, "Short-haired?" (I really thought that).

I knew what a German Shepherd looked like, but had never, ever heard of a GSP. 

Interesting side story: When I parked my car for Huntington Dog Beach, I met a man with a large dog that looked like a German Shepherd. We were both paying for our parking meters, and he taught me something new. His dog totally looked like a German Shepherd to me. But no, he told me, this is a Malinoise. A lot of people confuse them with German Shepherds, but if you look at their back, a German Shepherd will round down, while a Malinoise will go up. I had no idea! 

Anyway, I crashed the So Cal German Shorthaired Pointer meetup and everyone welcomed me right away. Dog people at dog meet ups are the friendliest people. And how can you not be? You're at the beach with your dogs, with your friends and their dogs on a beautiful Saturday morning at the beach. Like I said for So Cal Corgi Beach Day, Dogs + Beach = Heaven on earth.

And what can I say? These Pointers were OVERFLOWING with energy. I talked to many GSP owners and they all told me that they need about 2 hours of exercise everyday. TWO HOURS! 

I think the average is 30 mins of walking a day, 40 mins if you're a terrier (I researched this because I wanted to know how much our Westie needed for a walk).

The unfortunate downside about GSPs is that most people who adopt them don't recognize how much exercise GSPs need. That's why they're one of the most returned dogs at animal shelters. This made me sad to hear. So I hope if you, or anyone else you know, is considering a GSP, to take into account their enormous need for exercise. 

The upside is they are phenomenal family dogs. And having seen them up close,  they were all so amiable and playful.

A Pointer, of course, is bred for hunting and helping hunters find game. They have webbed paws built for swimming and have sharp perception to notice the slightest movements of birds and squirrels at the beach. In one instance, I was trying to photograph a GSP when suddenly a squirrel caught his attention like 50 feet away from me and then, merely 10 seconds later, a bird flew right by him and off he went after the bird instead. It was so funny to witness how easily distracted he was.

One more thing (if you haven't already skimmed these words and jumped right into the photographs), I just want to express a sincere THANK YOU to all you GSP moms and dads for letting me crash your party. 
 

Okay, picture time.

Annie

Annie's a beautiful and fun GSP with tons of energy, and gorgeous eyes.

Atlas and Ajax

Atlas is the first one pictured (lighter coat), and Ajax is the one with the darker coat. They're a rowdy pair, and even their names sounds like a fun title of a buddy cop movie.

Peeps

Peeps was always digging! Anytime I turned my camera toward him, he was digging.

Trigger

Trigger's a handsome boy with a big adorable head you just wanna wrap in your hands.

Roxy

Roxy's a sweet GSP puppy with stunning eyes.

Bones

I learned that Bones is a native German Shorthaired Pointer, born in Germany. 

Mila

Little Mila was a sweetheart! While all the other GSPs would be playing around the water, she snuck around to lounge in the warm sun.

Chevy

They called Chevy the social one. 

Kona

Kona was the sweetest and gentlest German Shorthaired Pointer I met...I mean, look at those eyes!

Lucille

This was Lucille's first time in the water, and you could see her paws naturally paddling away before she even touched the water. And below, she showed us her proud pointing stance.

Bella

Bella was everywhere! In the sands, in the water, playing with the other GSPs, and then back to the sand, back in the water, and so on.

Tucker

Tucker is a rockstar, and a local Huntington Dog Beach celebrity.

Pongo

Pongo's a stud. Just look at his proud posture.

Sophie

Sophie was the perfect model for the camera. She would look right at me, and stay very still until I threw her favorite ball into the ocean.

As you can see, I have no record of Sophie being dry that day.

Hunter

And finally, Hunter. Hunter looked like the alpha dog at the meet up. He is larger than the average GSP, confident, and played the part of protector and leader of the pack.
While everyone was busy, off playing in the water, his main mission was to look out for the impending attack of the zombie squirrels.

 

I had SO MUCH FUN crashing the GSP meet up. I love photographing dogs outdoors, in their element, where they are the happiest.
My goal was to just capture them for who they are: playful and athletic dogs, in their element.

What's Next?

If you were at the GSP meet up, I made a full gallery for you! There, you may invest in beautiful Paw Prints and Portraits of your fur baby. Click right over here.

 

If you live in the Huntington Beach area and would love to invest in professional photographs of your dog, I have an awesome opportunity for you. I partnered with my friends at Uptown Paw for a Doggie Daycare + Portraits Package. If you sign your fur-baby up for doggie daycare any Monday or Wednesday in October, we'll take your dog on a walk in Huntington Central Park for a mini professional photo shoot. Click on the image below to see it bigger.

If you're interested in the Doggie Daycare & Portrait package, please get in touch.

If you're interested in the full private VIP ('Very Important Pet') portrait session experience for your dog, start here.

 

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Steamer Lee
Professional Dog Photographer

 

 

 

Dogs are family. But it's a hassle trying to take good pictures of them. Imagine how your dogs can look with professional dog photography. Dog-parents who invest in professional photography own the most beautiful photos of their dogs that they have ever seen, and their homes feel revitalized with elegant portraits of their furry family member.


If you're in the Southern California area, you should reserve your dog's photography session now.

 

The Best Dog

This is Charly!
He's my new nephew, and Maya's new cousin.

My brother had a beautiful wedding this past weekend, and Charly is now part of the Lee family. 

And we're so glad he made it! 

At first my brother and his wife were thinking of not bringing Charly to the wedding, because of the added hassle of "one more thing" to worry about on the wedding day.

But then I told them, looking back on my wedding photos, I wish Fenix was there, and that he was in them. 

Because dogs are family too.

After much thought, my brother's wife decided it would mean so much to her if he did make it to the wedding. 

And sure enough, she asked me to walk Charly down the aisle, and he even stood alongside the wedding party during the ceremony. (Or, I should say, he was sleeping most of the time.).

But before the ceremony, I took Charly aside for an impromptu portrait session. Check out how handsome this little furry thief looks. He stole all of the bridesmaids' hearts.

Welcome to the family, Charly! 

My Dog Photos were featured at Union Market, Mission Viejo!

For the month of July, WoodSnap (www.woodsnap.com) hand-picked my dog photography to be in their 'Focal Point: A Photography Exhibition', at the Union Market in Mission Viejo, CA.

This was such a pleasant surprise for both of us! Because in May, my wife and I took our little Westie girl, Maya, to a Vet Specialist in Tustin for additional information on her bladder stones.

She's had a history of bladder stones building up, which could cause her to be unable to urinate. In fact, she's on a special prescribed diet to minimize her body's natural tendency to build these bladder stones. Maya was fine at the time, but we wanted to take care of the problem before it became a serious problem. She had to get surgery once before to get them removed, but we were nervous that she'd have to go through it all again.

While they were scanning Maya, Leanna and I stopped for some delicious Portola coffee at The District in Tustin. It's hard to relax when your dog's at the vet, but we did our best to take care of ourselves. That's when I saw the The Focal Point Exhibition there, and I immediately submitted my work there on the spot, from my iPhone.

A couple of weeks later, they emailed me back and told me they wanted to feature my work at the Union Market exhibit in Mission Viejo, for the month of July. It was such a pleasant surprise in the middle of all our worry that Maya was going have to undergo surgery again.

She underwent surgery at the end of June, and she's all better and recovered now. In fact, you can see her running around the Huntington Dog Beach last week on her Instagram, @mayawestie.

Anyway, here's what the exhibit looked like:

And there's our little SuperWestie! 


Another great story that came out of this: Harley, the yellow lab in mid-stride in the middle, was recently diagnosed with cancer. Their family doesn't know much longer they'll have him, but they made a bucket list together and are enjoying every moment together with him. I told them about the photography exhibit, and their whole family with two kids went down to see it. They were so excited to see Harley there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HUGE thanks to the folks at WoodSnap for featuring these lovely furry faces. 

So Cal Corgi Beach Day - "Honorable Corgis" of the Day

After a brief hiatus, I'm back! With more dog photographs!

For those who are visiting for the first time, I went to So Cal Corgi Beach Day at the beginning of July. It was a whole lot of fun, and I got to meet so many furry friends! I made over 100 Corgi photographs that I had to break them down into three blog posts:

So Cal Corgi Beach Day (Vol. 1)

July 2017

So Cal Corgi Beach Day (Vol. 2)

July 2017

So Cal Corgi Beach Day (Vol. 3)

July 2017


But Corgis weren't the only dogs I met that day. I also met Cocker Spaniels, Huskies, Pit Bulls, Pugs, an English Bulldog, a Westie (!)...and, well, you'll just have to see the rest!

So, as a bonus blog post in our So Cal Corgi Beach Day series, I wanted to include the "Honorable Corgis" who also joined the party for So Cal Corgi Beach Day.

This gorgeous Aussie joined the aqua fun.

I believe this may be a Shiba Inu, probably in its puppy stage. 

Speaking of a Shiba Inu, I think this royal three-legged friend is also a Shiba Inu. 

This sweet Toy terrier could probably fit in the palm of your hand.

As a Westie owner, everytime I see another Westie I can't help it.

Do you know what dog breed my wife adores?

Boxers! This adorable Boxer is Zoey, and she's not afraid to lick your face and tackle you down with a hug. My wife grew up with a sweet Boxer-Border Collie mix named Bailey, so the Boxer family has a precious paw print in her heart. With that in mind, I spent extra time photographing Zoey.

When I saw Zoey distracted with a stick, I knew I had a great opportunity to make some fun photographs of her.

So I got down on her level, and was able to make these funny and charming photographs of Zoey.

Do you want to see something else really funny?

This isn't the funny one yet. It's going to be the next six images. But I loved this photograph because you can see the trail of water following the whoosh of the tail.

Okay, for the next six images, read it as you would a comic panel, like this:

1, 2
3, 4
5, 6

Can't you just hear the stick plop, and see the goofiness of this moment, and the sad (but really funny!) look at the end? Silly dogs. We humans don't deserve you.

This gorgeous, patriotic Pit Bull mix didn't hesitate to model for me. 

Neither did this little terrier.

Or this one.

This is Kimchi.
I was taking a break, enjoying some lunch, when I saw two dogs and their human family sit at a table near me.
So I stopped mid-bite, and went over to ask if I could photograph their beautiful furry kids.

And Kimchi's partner-in-crime, Gizmo! 

All of these dogs are filed under, "dogs-that-heard-me-photographing-other-dogs-and-wanted-to-join-in-the-fun."

 

"What about Huskies! I want to see photographs of Huskies!" 
Well, here you go.

I LOVED this sequence! Especially the moment of the photograph in the middle, when the dog looks over in mid-stride, and its legs were stepping at just the right moment.

And there's a closer look at each frame.

PUGS! I brake for Pugs.

This Pomeranian is Chewie, co-pilot of the Millenium Falcon.

And, finally, this English Bulldog is... (ahem)

 Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North...

...General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius...

...Father to a murdered son, and husband to a murdered wife...

...And he will have his vengeance, in this life or the next.

In the likely case that I just lost you there, this fierce face is named after the protagonist (portrayed by Russell Crowe) in the motion picture, Gladiator. 


And just like that, we've reached the end of this Corgi Beach Day tour.
Thank you for your time! I hope you were able to enjoy Corgi Beach Day through the magic of photographs.

Now, I know what you're thinking. 

Wow! These are all such beautiful photographs. I would love to have a picture like one of these hanging in my home living room or office!

Or, Hey! I know that dog! She belongs to a friend of mine, and I know her birthday is coming up! I would so love to get her a picture of her fur-baby for her birthday! That would make the perfect gift!

Now you can do just that! I made a beautiful gallery of Corgi Beach Day, filled with 200 photographs from Corgi Beach Day.

 

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So Cal Corgi Beach Day in 200 Photographs

July 2017, Long Beach, CA.

Please share this gallery with everyone you know who loves dogs.

Custom artworks starts at $20. You'll get Free Shipping for orders over $75.00.

I'd be so grateful for your business.

And so would Maya.
She's begging for some new toys.
 

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Steamer Lee
Professional Dog Photographer
 

 

Dogs are family. But it's a hassle trying to take good pictures of them. Imagine how your dogs can look with my professional dog photography. Dog-parents who hire me invest in the most beautiful photos of their dogs that they have ever seen, and their homes feel revitalized with elegant portraits of their furry family member.
If you're in the Southern California area, you should reserve your dog's photography session now.

So Cal Corgi Beach Day (Vol. 3)

This is it! The final collection of Corgi photographs from So Cal Corgi Beach Day on July 1st, 2017.

In case you missed it:

So Cal Corgi Beach Day - Vol. 1
So Cal Corgi Beach Day - Vol. 2

It was Independance Day yesterday, so let's get started with these star-spangled Corgis:

Barley and Bubbles were modeling ALL day for their country. I had to wait in line for hours (in dog time), to get photos of these two (they ran out of FastPasses by noon).

And here's another Corgi modeling the stars and stripes:

Speaking of models, here's a Corgi sporting a bowtie. Everyone else was busy watching the Corgi events, and I saw this little guy just sitting quietly:

I also got to meet other very well-known VIP's (Very Important Pets), such as Calvin the Corgi. It was a long day, and even Calvin couldn't keep up with greeting everyone. But he was a true professional. He got up and still posed for me:

Then he laid back down for his hourly nap:

Ready for another VIP? How about this Corgi named Kobe, 5-time NBA champion, sporting some Doggles. 

And then there's Ares the Corgi, the Greek dog of war, here to wreak cuteness upon mankind:

This next Corgi is supposedly only 9-months old! He totally looks fully grown already, and if he really is only 9-months old, then this one's going to grow up to be a really big Corgi:

And while we're on the subject of really big Corgis:

I know I know, they look like big stuffed animals that you would win at the county fair, but no! They are 100% real. I met them in-person and they are just as real and alive as any other Corgis there.

Now back to puppy-sized Corgis. 

This next one is Bear:

And while I was photographing Bear, this Corgi below wanted me to photograph him:

I don't know the name of this Corgi, but he or she just snuck up on me while I was taking photographs of other Corgis. I think this one's a puppy:

The next two Corgis are brothers, Dallas and Jax, "two low riding brothers." Dallas is the Corgi puppy, and Jax is the beautiful dachshund, and honorable Corgi for the day.

Thes two brothers were an absolute blast to photograph. They were so sweet and kind. By the way! Pro tip: Tying your fur model to a stake, as shown with Dallas here, is a great way to get them to stay in one place while you're trying to photograph them:

This photograph above, of the two brothers together, is one of my favorites. 

This next dog is Kal-El (Superman's birth name). I don't remember if he's part Corgi, or Corgi mix. But let's just say at least he's an honorable Corgi for the day. I was sitting down for lunch, enjoying a delicious cheeseburger, when I suddenly looked up and saw this dog with a different colored coat that I've never seen before. I stopped in the middle of my lunch, and grabbed my camera for this:

I know what you're thinking! Maybe part of the fur on his ear could've been dyed with some special dog shampoo? Nope. I asked his owners the same question, and they said it's completely natural. 

Here's another Corgi mix, and with another unusually colored coat. But what I loved best about this dog was his prominent tail:

Oh, and his bark! I love this photograph above because everytime I look at it I can hear the barking sound in my ears.

One more Corgi mix, with another beautiful tail. I try my best to remember all the names of the dogs I meet, but I can't remember this one. (If you know, please let me know).

"Look deep into my eyes...."

And now! More photos of Corgi's on the shore and in the water!

But first...this silly series of photos of a Corgi shaking his furry face:

The rare sighting of the Corgi-Shark mix:

These two silly brothers are Raynor and Winston, both aptly named after video game characters:

Ready to run into the water? This is what Corgi's Beach Day is all about!

I've said this before, but I'll say it again: 

Dogs + Beach = Heaven on Earth.

This Corgi below is Misha, and she was one of the Corgis who just wanted to run in the water again and again:

What I love about Misha is that when you hold her ball up to throw it, she waits on you in a crouch that almost looks like a downward dog:

Another one of my favorites from the day:

And here we come to the tail end of our So Cal Corgi Beach Day coverage.

Thank you so much for hanging in here with me.
I hope I was able to share with you the joy I experienced this fun day. I almost didn't get to make it. I found out about this meetup less than week before it was happening. Our sweet little Maya's been recovering from surgery so we've been staying home and monitoring her recovery process. But fortunately she turned a corner very quickly and is now her usual energetic, vocal, adorable self.

I had such a great time meeting so many wonderful people. I can't believe some of you came out from New Orleans, Alaska, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. There's something special about the dog community when you can instantly talk to another dog owner and just talk about what it's like to have a dog, and their silly and distinct personalities and antics.

I've never photographed a Corgi below, so this was a very special opportunity for me to add to my dog photography portfolio. For someone who is a non-Corgi owner, it's easy for me to say that they all "look alike." But as one Corgi owner told me, you do get to start seeing their different personalities. And that's what I find so fascinating about dogs, and other animals. They each have their own unique personality, tendencies, likes and dislikes. 

If you recognize any of these Corgis as yours, please get in touch.

Dogs are families, and I love helping families see beautiful, wonderful, silly, and playful photographs of their furry children. Especially as large pieces of artworks to live in their homes. I love seeing our large 24x36 of Maya living in our living room, and everyday it makes me appreciate her presence, her health, and her adorable ears.

 

 

Now that you've stuck around to reach the end credits of this post, here's a teaser for an upcoming follow-up blog post:

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Honorable Corgis of the Day

Photographic Collections of Honorable Corgis at Corgi Beach Day

So Cal Corgi Beach Day (Vol. 2)

Welcome back! Here's Vol. 2 of our Corgi photographic collection from July 1st's So Cal Corgi Beach meetup.

If you missed Vol. 1, click here.

Let's get right to it! Here's Sora, the Lion, that I promised to show you yesterday.

The best part about Sora's costume is that the costume completely blends in with his fur's coloring. I had to do a double-take when I first saw him. What's even more amazing is that Sora came all the way from Utah for this meetup!

Speaking of fur colors, Jetson's on the other end of the spectrum of Corgi colors:

And then there's Shelby! She's a rescue, and her owner said, "she came at an important time in my life." I spotted Shelby sitting quietly amidst the hustle and bustle of the crowd, and her color just stood out to me that I had to go over for a photograph.

And now, let's return our attention back to the beach. These next set of photographs are some of my favorites of the day. I felt like I would've wasted the day if I didn't get any photographs of Corgis in the water. When I hear "So Cal Corgi Beach Day," I think of Corgi's getting their fur soaked and their little legs paddling through the Pacific Ocean in sheer joy:

The next two Corgis are Aengus and GeorgeCooper, and they were endlessly entertaining to watch:

Happy Fourth of July! Come back on Wednesday. I have so much more to show you.

 

So Cal Corgi Beach Day (Vol. 1)

Yesterday was So Cal Corgi Beach Day, and it was my first time being part of it!

I had SO MUCH fun with everyone. Everyone was so nice, all the Corgis were so fun to meet, and the weather was just perfect for a beach day.

I took TONS of photos, so I'll break up my photograph collection into at least two parts, maybe three. 

Here's the first part of the collection, and I hope you enjoy it!

Because it was the 4th-of-July Weekend, we had some Corgis dress up for the occasion.

On the other hand, there was some hard-corgi LA Dodger fans too. Here's Emma and Higgins, representing their favorite baseball team. My favorite part here was seeing one of the siblings peek out when I came to take their photographs:

This sweet Corgi below is Penny:

And sometimes when I'm photographing one Corgi, another Corgi appears out of nowhere:

I believe this little Corgi mix is named Sully, named after the gentle giant monster in Monsters, Inc.

And it wouldn't be the Corgi beach day without photographing some Corgi with their fur still wet from the water.

And finally, we'll end today's collection of photographs with a puppy Corgi, appropriately named Thor.

I hope you enjoyed some of these! Stay tuned tomorrow for Vol. 2 of our So Cal Corgi Beach Day photograph collection. I've got some photographs of Corgi fetching sticks in the water together, and another Corgi dressed up as a lion that looked believably real!

Maya's First Birthday (with us!)

June 30th was Maya's 8th birthday in human years, but really she's more like a perpetual 2-year old nosy toddler.

I took her to Huntington Dog Beach back in May and it was the best thing. Dogs + Beach = Heaven on earth. There's something so beautiful, wonderful, and joyful to see a dog run free on the sands of the beach, leaving tiny paw prints in her wake.

In celebration of Maya's birthday, I compiled this collection of photographs I took just in the previous two months.

This was my first time taking her to the dog beach, and she loved every moment of it! I loved watching her run around and be free, and then come running right back to me.

To my surprise, she wasn't that afraid of the ocean, although the photographs may look like that. But she was tolerant of getting her feet wet. 

Leanna and I recently decided to get Maya groomed, and so here are some photos of her before her grooming, and then some more after.

And don't miss Maya's "taco tongue"! Leanna insisted I include this photograph because it just makes her literally LOL!

 

Look at that difference! We took her to The Spaw , and they were the best! 
We thought she was already the cutest dog in the world, but when we got her back after her grooming, our hearts just gushed and melted at how clean and soft and beautiful she was. Leanna literally couldn’t think straight. She just sat in the backseat of our car with Maya and couldn’t stop feeling her soft body. We felt like we got to see her as a puppy again.

As you can tell, I took lots of photographs of her after her grooming! They took such great care of Maya and did a PHENOMENAL job with her! 

Here she is at a park:

The next three photographs I almost left out because they were blurry, but they still looked so adorable and I felt even though they're not technically perfect, you can still feel Maya's cuteness and her growl come through.

These next two are my favorites! I loved seeing my wife interact with our little Maya. I loved how the sunlight outlined Maya's silly little shape.

And finally, one of Maya and I:

Happy Birthday, Maya! We're so fortunate, blessed, and grateful to have you in our lives.

I hope you make more paw prints in the sand, hunt more flies in our home, alert us when Amazon Prime shipments arrive, and turn frowns into smiles when people see you walk by.

Luc

Hey everyone,

This is Rubie and Luc, two beautiful German Shepherd siblings.

Rubie's on the left there with her black, red, and brown coloring. Luc is on the right sporting his black and tan coat that landed him on the cover of GSQ (German Shepherds Quarterly) for six straight issues.

Steamer Lee Dog Photography - Luc and Rubie German Shepherd Blog Post - 3

I've been writing a longer-form blog post about their portrait shoot together, but I wanted to take this moment to do an honorable tribute to brother bear Luc. 

Over Memorial Day weekend, the angels of Doggie Heaven inducted Luc into the heavenly Paws of Fame. He was at the full, handsome age of 11. 

If you can imagine what it'd be like to hug a big and furry and gentle and sweet bear, then you'd have an idea of what Luc was like. My favorite part about him are his ears, his silly sounds, and the fact that he's tri-lingual: he spoke Dog, English, and German. Mostly responded to German commands like sitz and platz.

Steamer Lee Dog Photography - Luc and Rubie German Shepherd Blog Post - 2
Steamer Lee Dog Photography - Luc and Rubie German Shepherd Blog Post - 1

Maya wrote a poem this morning, that I thought was a beautiful tribute to Luc.
She wrote this while contemplating the joy of getting her paws dirty on the sandy shores of the beach:

Like on the sands of the beach
we make paw prints in your hearts
in places you didn't even know we could reach

Dogs are family, and we've lost one of our own. Luc left a lot of huge paw prints on a lot of hearts. Please keep Luc's mom and dad, and Rubie, in your thoughts and prayers.

Luc, do me a favor and say hi to Fenix and Princess for me. They're smaller dogs so be gentle with them, okay?

Ava's Secret Christmas Present

Just like any loving person in the spirit of Christmas, Kristen was looking for that special gift to surprise her boyfriend's mom for Christmas. 

One day she saw my Instagram dog posts...and that gave her an idea! What if I surprised her with a big picture of their new puppy, Ava? 

And in that simple spirit of generosity, I met Ava.

Ava was 9-months young when I met her, a white Golden Retriever puppy. Joey, Kristen's boyfriend, considers Ava the favorite child in his family. His mom and dad could care less about Joey at this point. Ava was their new baby.

So, in very deceptive fashion, Kristen and Joey came up with a fake story of why they needed to take Ava out one late afternoon. I don't condone deceptive behavior like this...but I have to admit the thrill of an undercover, super secret photo shoot for a secret Christmas present excited me.

The photo shoot started out like all other photo shoots: introducing myself to the furry model and letting her smell me and smell my camera. If the furry model has never seen a large camera , it can be frightening for her. It's a large, unfamiliar, strange black box. The sudden sharp sounds of the shutter snapping every second can be a surprising experience for any dog.

So that’s why I love seeing these close-ups of Ava when we first started. It shows her kinda unsure, start smelling my camera to figure out what's going on, and then eventually ease up a bit. 

Here Ava is looking unsure of what is happening.

Now this super cute moment of Ava melting us with her expressive, puppy-dog eyes. 

Now this super cute moment of Ava melting us with her expressive, puppy-dog eyes. 

These are the kind of eyes that makes you just want to cuddle with her, or make you cave in and give her those cookies because look how cute she is. 

But in dog language, she's also telling me she's unsure and a tad bit fearful. Her ears are down, and if you look closely in the background, her tail is low.

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Now she starts using her main source of seeing the world: her nose.

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I learned that when they open their mouths like this, it could still be a sign of nervousness. Her ears are still down so she’s still unsure of what’s going on here with this stranger with the strange black box. But for us humans, it gives off the appearance of a cute smile. What I love about dog photos is that this photo can look like all other dog photos…but for Kristen and Joey and Joey's mom and dad, photos like these mean the world to them. And the same goes for your dog. When you get your dog professionally photographed, they don’t become “just pictures of dogs” anymore, they become your fur-child's portraits and you see their portraits with more depth than anyone else can. 

Now back to Ava's super secret, under-the-radar photo shoot.

Ava’s a 9-month young puppy. And in the dog world, we know that “puppy” = “endless amounts of energy.” And so for a one-hour photo shoot it was going to be quite a challenge. Of course, having a well-trained and well-behaved dog helps a lot, but for most of us we don’t have a dog that will sit, lie down, and look at the camera on perfect command. In fact, as soon as we pull out our cameras, our dogs will do the exact opposite!

If you have a puppy, or a very high-energetic dog; and you’d like to try to capture a photo of your dog, one of the very best things you can do is to get them tired. That means run them around, take them for a long walk, play with them. Get all of that energy out of the way. You can think of it like this: what if I gave you three shots of espresso before your photo shoot? If it was me, I’d feel like I needed to run three miles before I can focus and try to sit still for a minute. That's your dog. And they come with natural espresso inside of them.

For the first 15-20 minutes or so, were just walked Ava around the park and let her to sniff around to her heart’s content. It was a brand new park for her, so of course there were going to be a lot of distractions and and new scents to smell.

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And here, she's already settling down. Ava knows some basic commands like lie down, so here we have her finally being cooperative for a whole 45 seconds to get some moments like these:

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And I just want to say that I LOVE taking photos of dogs outdoors. It just feels like they’re at their happiest, natural state. Do you see that little piece of grass on her nose, and her paw on the left? That just cracks me up. It just tells me that she’s a dog through and through, and she loves to roll around in the grass. Especially after when she's groomed and cleaned.

Here’s another one of her with grass on her nose

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I especially like this image because she still has that puppy-like appearance. Her 1st birthday was two months ago, and she looks like an adult golden retriever already. So I’m glad that they asked me to capture images of Ava in her puppy stage. They grow up to be adults at only 1 year old, so there’s a small window of getting pictures of them like this. If you or you know someone with a puppy, please get in touch.

Speaking of puppies, this next series of three images is purely puppy Ava:

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To help her focus and play, I brought a toy. You can tell I'm still tugging on it because the rope goes off the photo at the bottom there.

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Now she’s got my toy.

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And....there she goes!

The next three are some of my favorites from any photo shoot.

I forgot to mention the jingle bells! I totally forgot to bring that up but you’ve probably noticed already that Ava is wearing a collar with jingle bells. This is a Christmas puppy photo shoot, so that was a fun detail to add.

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Steamer Lee Dog Photography - Ava White Golden Retriever - 17

And finally, we now come to a close of our photo shoot. 

Remember what I said earlier before, about draining a puppy’s energy before a photo shoot? Well by the end of our photo shoot, Ava’s energy was now winding down and she was being unusually cooperative.

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Would you look at that? She’s now sitting perfectly for us. Her ears are forward and relaxed, and we finally see her true golden retriever face.

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A nice profile view! You don’t always have to get the dog looking at you straight into the camera. I’m trying to capture memories for a lifetime, so different angles are just as important.

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Steamer Lee Dog Photography - Ava White Golden Retriever - 13

And alas, about an hour later, we have our Golden Retriever calendar model. Satisfied, content, relaxed, and posing perfectly for us.


So can you guess which portrait of Ava did Kristen and Joey pick for his mom's Christmas present?

On deciding a large portrait to hang in your home, I like to advise my clients that they should try to pick a size so that the face of your dog is as "life-sized" as possible.

In other words, if you were to put Ava side-by-side with her final printed photograph, her head in the photograph should be just about the same size (or larger) then her real life self. This same principle goes for humans too. Do you ever wonder how some portraits at the museum have such a stunning impact when you see it? One of the reasons is because of the size of the subject's face. Humanly, there's more connection because it feels real. Or think about a life-sized cut-out of a celebrity. How many double-takes have you had to do to realize it wasn't the actual person standing there?

In Kristen and Joey's instance, they ordered a 20x30 frameless thinwrap. So with a 20x30 size, I suggested they go with an image where Ava's sweet mug fills more of the frame than the other photos (like the "calendar model" one wouldn't qualify because her face would still look small).

And the end result turned out so good that I ordered myself my own 20x30 of Ava for our own home.

If you're like Kristen and Joey, you'd have trouble picking out your favorite among so many great moments of Ava, but they decided on this one: 

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Now his mom's house has this big, beautiful, silly, dorky face filling up their home's space.

Here's what I meant by that side-by-side comparison I was talking about earlier.

I know, she looks like a cute stuffed animal that needs a haircut, but that's our Westie-Schnauzer mix, Maya. Maya’s face is not as big as Ava’s face in real life, but the scale seems pretty close to me if we were to put those two together in real-life.

So enough of my rabbit trail. How does this story end? 

“They absolutely loved it! They actually started crying when they saw it!”

Kristen texted me that on the week of Christmas. What’s funny is the gift was just for Joey’s mom, but she said they started crying, so I’m going to guess both his mom and dad cried.

All credit goes to the fun, loving, generous, and beautiful couple, Kristen and Joey, who wanted to find that perfect gift for mom. You two were so fun to work with, and I enjoyed our undercover mission together.

Sincerely,

Steamer


For the rest of you, it's not too late to still reserve a dog photography session for the dog-mom in your life. You can still surprise her with a Gift Certificate that you bought a Dog Photography session for her fur-child.

Get mom, your wife, or someone special a different gift this year that will make her cry tears of joy: 

Dog Photography sessions starts at $500. But for a limited time you can reserve one at $300. You can save $200 AND make mom the happiest dog-mom in the world. 

Princess

Dogs are family.

And our personal photo collections and albums mean more to us than we think. 
It’s those family photos that we put on our work desk, and hang on our walls at home.

That’s why my mission as a dog photographer is to help you own stunning and fun portraits of your dogs to proudly show on your work desk or hang at home. Because dogs are family too!

In December 2016 (just four months ago), I received this email:

Hi Steamer! I was just wondering if you had any availability to have a little family photo shoot for my dogs. We have 4 dogs, all small breed and 2 of them have birthdays this month, one is turning 13 (Chispita) and the other will be turning 17 (Princess). Princess is our oldest and has always, up until now, been a very healthy dog. I love her with all of my heart and I think, before we run out of time, we should have really good family pictures.

This email came from a friend’s little sister, Andreina Huizar (pronounced ‘Ann-DREE-na’).

Now this email came in the busy month of December, when we’re all running wild holiday shopping, working, holiday parties, family parties, wrapping gifts, and trying to find time to watch Elf

Usually I would’ve pushed the photo shoot out to January when we’re more sane and calming down, but there were two factors that motivated me to do this photo shoot as soon as possible.

For one, they have not one but two senior dogs whose birthdays are in December, one turning 13 and the other turning 17.

Second, it was the last line in her email that gripped my heart,

I love her with all of my heart and I think, before we run out of time, we should have really good family pictures.”

Having lived with a senior dog, I know how quickly their health can turn even in just one week. 

So in the middle of our busy December, I was burdened with a mission to capture Princess’ birthday portraits before any new health issues suddenly turn up. This is why I do what I do.

And just like that, one week before Christmas, we did a birthday (and Christmas!) photo shoot for Princess and her furry family.


Princess

This photo shoot begins and ends with Princess. Princess is our VIP of this blog post. (VIP = Very Important Pet!).

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Steamer Lee Dog Photography 21.jpg

First of all, Andreina's family ADORE Princess. Princess is the biological daughter of their previous dog, Randy, who passed away already. Sometimes I look at Maya and wish that she had puppies, so we still have a piece of her that lives on after her time is up. In Andreina's family, they have just that, and her name is Princess.

Second, Princess’ 17th birthday was coming up, and that’s a pretty long life for a dog! For context, the average chug lives to 13-years old. So Princess is getting by with four more years. That's huge for any dog.

And finally, Princess holds a special place for me because she reminds me of my other dog, Fenix, who passed away in 2015. Princess is the same Chihuaha-Pug Mix as Fenix, and you can see the similarities.

You can tell her hearing and sight is not as good as it was, but she was still quite springy and energetic! 

Having lived with Fenix and a senior dog before, you get to see their funny antics like when they just randomly burst off in a direction without any notice. It’s pretty funny and entertaining, but you also have to be on you on alert at all times to make sure they’re not walking into trouble.

 

Now let’s meet our other furry models.

In direct contrast to Princess is Hope. She’s the youngest of the pack at merely 2 years old, she has dark fur compared to Princess, and a whole lot of young puppy energy. She was flying all over the park while we were trying to get a photo shoot of all the dogs in one place.

And then Chispita is our other little birthday girl, just turned 13:

And finally Miley, our Chihuahua, in a rare moment here being calm:

Now, photographing one dog is already a handful. But four? Uuh, yeah.

The main culprit was Hope, who just couldn’t stop running around.

So we thought why don’t we let her run around in the local dog park to burn off some energy, while we take some shots of the other three older, less energetic, dogs?

Here’s what we got:

Haha, not really successful in terms of getting them all to look at the camera.
The only one paying attention to me was Miley.
The other dogs around us were distracting Chispita.
And Princess couldn’t care less for my silly sounds or attempts at bribing her with food. At some point she would just get bored and leave the bed altogether and go on our her own journey somewhere.

After about 15 or 20 minutes or so, Hope came back to join us.

And that’s when I thought now’s a good time for a big family portrait. Andreina and her sister Kim, and her mom could all be in it. And they can all be in the image togehter with their furry family. And since they’ll be present, they can all help keep the puppies together and keep them from walking away.

And it worked!

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After some of these shots, Mrs. Huizar wanted to get some images alone with her and Princess. One of the special moments of our photo shoot together, was just Mrs. Huizar and Princess.

As soon as she cradled little Princess in her arms, tears rolled down Mrs. Huizar's face. I would guess so many thoughts happened at the same time: 

Princess’ resemblance of their previous dog, Randy.
The first time she held Princess as a puppy.
The fragile time Princess had left.
All of these emotions all at once.

The rest us, Kim, Andreina, Leanna, and I were holding back tears too. It was a quiet, intimate, touching moment.


When the mood lightened up, we got the rest of the fur family back into the image with Mrs. Huizar.

Then we did more family portraits with the daughters and their furry companions. Here are images of Kim with Miley and Princess:

And this fun moment of them lying next to each other. I wanted to re-create a moment of when they would just be relaxing in the park, enjoying the sight and sounds (and smells) of nature together.

Then it was Andreina's turn with Chispita and Hope. I like to keep the portraits bright and fun. Leanna helped with making bubbles for this image:

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By this time, our photo session was coming to a close. Both humans and dogs alike were getting tired.

Our furry models settled down for a nap session, and I was able to finally get all four of them in one photo together:


Goodbye, Princess

And here we bring our attention back to Princess. We did this photo shoot in December of 2016, and after a long January of ups and downs with her health, Princess joined her dad Randy in doggy heaven on February 12th, 2017.

The news really took me by surprise. I just saw Princess in January and she seemed even more energetic than when I saw her at the photoshoot. When I was visited the Huizar family for their photo reveal, I played a slideshow for everyone to see on their home TV. I clearly remember when I sat on their couch Princess snuggled warmly right next to me on my right side as we watched their beautiful images fill the living room.

Yet through this sadness, I'm at peace that we were able to capture these precious images of her that will live on in the Huizar household for the rest of their lives.

Goodbye, Princess.


Mrs. Huizar's Birthday Gift

Just about two weeks after Princess passed away, was Mrs. Huizar's birthday. 

Andreina, being such a thoughtful and loving daughter, surprised her mom with a beautiful calendar filled with their furry family portraits (for those wondering, the calendar starts in March, not January). They sent me a video of her mom's reaction and it was just sheer surprise and joy and love and tears. 

Dog Calendar.jpg

If I can help you own beautiful portraits of your dog to proudly show off at your work desk, or hang in your home, please get in touch.

Also...

Mother's Day is coming!

You can get mom, your wife, or someone special a different gift this year that will make her cry tears of joy: A Dog Photography Session of her fur child. Imagine a gorgeous 20x30 canvas with that silly smug face smiling over her living room. 

Dog Photography sessions starts at $500. But for a limited time you can reserve one at $300. You can save $200 AND make mom the happiest dog-mom in the world. 

The Blog Awakens

It's FINALLY here.
This BLOG. FINALLY.
I'm so excited to have this going again.

Do you know how long it's taken me to re-start this blog again?

FOUR years. 

Four years!

I love writing. (Actually, I hate writing, but that's what it means to be writer, right?)

I'm a writer first, and photographer second. Really.

Photography, to me, is an expression of writing. After all, photo and graphos means "to write with light." See what I did there? I just showed off my word parsing skills.

Four years ago, I had a blog that spanned 18 months, with 100 entries. I was just looking through that archive and enjoyed looking at life in 2011 and 2012. Some of the entries were long-reads, others were commentary on other articles and links. It was so much fun! 

Anyway, I'm SO excited to start writing again. 

I'll share fun things I find on the internet.
I'll share fun dog projects I'm working on. And I'll share some fun projects not dog-related I'm working on.
I'll share some personal things. I'll share some silly things.
I'll be sharing some tips on how you can take better photographs of your dog.
I'll share how you can decorate your home with big smiling dogs on your wall.
And of course, I'll be sharing a whole lot of dog images. LOTs of them.

Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for clicking (or tapping) on my Facebook link. 

Oh wait!!

Before you go, I must leave you with these dog images. 

These were taken at the Irvine Dog Park, "Central Bark." I love going to dog parks. There's nothing like going into an outdoor park full of joyful dogs greeting you with their wagging tails, furry faces, slobbery smiles, and endearing eyes.

 

Here's Maya at the dog park. We're trying to get her to socialize with other dogs more. She's getting better each time we take her.

Also, this image is sponsored by Mickey Mouse. 

 

Gabby, a red labradoodle. I've never met a red labradoodle before, so I was super excited to meet Gabby.

 

I just love her facial expression, reacting to my camera sounds. 

 

"I'm half-listening."

Brady, named after Tom Brady, of course. But his ears! Look at his ears!

 

I have to include a French Bulldog because they're good for TV ratings.

Also, I highly suggest clicking on this for a larger view!

 

WOOOOOOOOF. I love the barking sound of a basset hound. But probably because I don't live with one.

And my favorite of the bunch. No words. I just LOVE this image. Click for a larger view.

Thanks for your time! I hope that was fun.

And if you or anyone you know who might be interested in some gorgeous dog photos, please get in touch.

 

Cheers,

Steamer