Gus' Rescue Story

Gus here was 1 of the 140 Shih Tzu’s rescued from that horrible hoarding story you’ve heard about. In May of this year, police found 140 (!) Shih Tzu’s in one home in Orange, living in terrible conditions. They were all covered in their own filth when they were found.

But thanks to O.C. Animal Care and volunteers from as far as San Clemente, they rescued the poor pups. Gus was one of the rescued pups, and is living his best life now!

I met him at PetPoint Medical Resort in Irvine, while finishing up another dog food project. I asked the staff if there were any dog models available for fun before I disassembled my mobile photo studio, and Gus was roaming around with his bushy tail. They told me his story, and I had no idea such a crazy thing happened earlier this year. Now look at him! I’m so glad to hear he’s in a better home now.

This is why Gus is my feature today for #NationalDogDay.


First image is Straight-Out-of-Camera (SOOC). The wonderful magics of shooting in RAW allowed me to still come out with the second image.

First image is Straight-Out-of-Camera (SOOC). The wonderful magics of shooting in RAW allowed me to still come out with the second image.

What is a "RAW" image, and why is it important?

If you bought a DSLR or a mirrorless camera to take photos of your own dogs, then you've probably asked yourself a question like, "what's the difference between shooting in RAW and in JPEG?"

And, more importantly, "which one should I pick?"

The short answer is RAW.

Let me try to explain RAW vs. JPEG in the context of food and recipes. Bear with me here because this is going to sound silly.

Imagine you're craving a delicious bowl of guacamole. I'll give you two options.

Option 1: I can give you anabundanceof raw ingredients for you to make your own guacamole.
Option 2: I give you a pre-made guacamole, but you can't add or subtract anything from it. Let's pretend there's no seasoning available in this scenario. You have to eat it as it is.

If you want to save time, and give up control -- you'll pick option 2, the pre-made guacamole. The upside is, you get a guacamole right away. The downside if you don't like how it tastes, you can't add or subtract anything to it because it's already made.

But if I give you option 1, you have all of the raw ingredients to create a guacamole. That means, with time and effort on your part, you'll create your own guacamole. In fact, because you have an abundance of raw ingredients, you can make 3 or 4 more bowls of guacamole just in case you messed up the flavor the first time. And, you can even try something different on the fourth bowl like adding garlic salt instead of regular salt, which I would personally recommend.

In other words, choosing Option 1 (i.e. RAW) gives you room for failure and creativity.

I know! This is such a bad example and the logic doesn't make perfect sense but here's what I'm trying to say about RAW vs. JPEG.

JPEG is fixed, while RAW gives you the creative control.

When you pick JPEG, you're asking the camera to make the final photo for you (i.e. the guacamole). You'll have very little say in how you want to edit the photo later, like making some parts darker or some parts lighter.

But with RAW, you have full and complete creative control. And that's where the above example comes in. Do you see that before/after picture? I couldn't have rescued it if I was shooting in JPEG.

In my "before" photo, I really messed up the camera settings so the photo came out much darker than I expected. But because I made a RAW image, I had an abundance of "raw ingredients" to work with, which allowed me to still create a jaw-dropping, stunning image out of it.

So when you take out your own camera to make a portrait of your dog, try shooting in RAW instead. You won't regret it.

Now, excuse me, I'm off to go make myself a guacamole.

Happy Weekend,


Are you letting Instagram limit you?


If most of your own dog’s photos are in the Square aspect ratio, or vertical orientation, then the answer may be yes.

Don't let Instagram limit you.

I'm talking about the vertical orientation of it.

I know, I get it.

We want to share images for those feel-good chemical spikes in our brains whenever someone likes our image.

But the Instagram interface is limited.

Don't let Instagram be the final destination of your image.

Let the print be the final iteration. Let your vision lead the way, not the Instagram interface.

Instagram, the most popular image-sharing platform right now, is limited by the vertical orientation of everyone's mobile device.

Earlier this week, I shared the photo you see above on Instagram. And I was so excited about it! As I finished my editing touches on it, I couldn't wait to share the joy of it with everyone.

But, sharing it on Instagram fell short of the true image -- my "author's intent."

Here's what I mean:

Optimized for instagram viewing

Optimized for instagram viewing

vs. this:

The actual photo.

The actual photo.

Now if you're reading this image on your mobile device, the first image will look better to you, of course. Because your device is biased for the vertical aspect. But if you have a large iPad, or monitor at home -- check out what the full landscape image looks like.

But can you see what's missing now? Two-thirds of the real image! Imagine going to a movie theater and seeing only a third of the movie.

Could I have included the landscape in my Instagram post? Sure...but then it looks so tiny now!

If I'm going to print this photo, there's absolutely no way I'm cropping this down. It's meant to give a bigger feeling.

You see, some images are meant for the horizontal, landscape, sweeping view that I love -- especially with images I like to create.

Instead of asking, "how do I create an Instagram image to get the most likes?" ask this, "how do I take a mobile phone image that truly reflects the personality of my dog, and truly projects the vision I have at the moment?"

Because, you see, tomorrow Instagram could disappear. Some hacker could take it all down. Some Instagram employee could accidentally wipe out all the code. Someone could hack your account (this happened to me). And all of your photos may be lost there with it.

If all your dog photos are just intended for Instagram, you're going to have mostly only square and vertical photos of your dog.

I don't know about you, but to me that's boring.

So when you take photos of your own dog, don't think of Instagram as the final destination. Think of a lifelong, lasting print as your final destination. Because those will always outlast whatever social media platform comes next.

If you're not paying for it, you don't own any of it. And it could all disappear tomorrow without warning.

Let the print be the final iteration. Let your vision lead the way, not the Instagram interface.

Happy weekend!

- Steamer