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