Bonjour to Barkjour | An Out Of This World Pet Photography Retreat

Hi everyone,

There are a few things that I am always into improving… my photography skills and business knowledge.

Why would an established professional pet photographer want to improve their photography? Because there is always something new to learn. New lighting, new poses, new editing practices, trying different gear and working on your style are the things that make good photographers great photographers. I work incredibly hard because I want to be a great photographer so every chance I get I find a way to improve my skills.

Creating a better client experience is also extremely important so learning new business skills whether it be better client communication or learning about new products. I want to know as much as I can to serve my clients better.

Recently I had an opportunity to go to France for “an out of this world pet photography retreat” called Barkjour. Barkjour is an incredible experience made for improving the photography and business skill sets for pet photographers. Amazing pet photographers from all around the world travel to these retreats not just to learn but to spend time with people that are just like them… crazy dog people that are also in love with photography.

What an experience it was. The location was an amazing chateau in Provence, France that’s almost 900 years old. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to stay in and photograph dogs in such a spectacular location.

The perfect location, a chateau in Provence.
Barkjour was located in the perfect setting a chateau in Provence.
The Chateau courtyard.
The Chateau courtyard at The Chateau Provence.

The food was pretty darn amazing as well. Celebrity chef, Theo Michaels from www.theocooks.com prepared local food for us at Barkjour.

Amazing food by Theo from theocooks.com
Food prepared by Theo from theocooks.com
Yummy local foods from France.
Yummy local food from France is prepared at barkjour.

 

Don’t be fooled by the amazing location and food. We worked all day and night. Here Kaylee Greer and Sam Haddix from Dog Breath Photography are taking sunset photos of Cat from CatsDog Photography and her pup Poppy and helping us improve our sunset portraits so we get the most gorgeous colors and fantastic light in our images.

Working into the night with Kaylee Greer and Sam Haddix.
Working into the night with Kaylee Greer and Sam Haddix from Dog Breath Photography.

When we weren’t in classes we were busy shooting in stunning locations in southern France. Vineyards, small villages, and Pont du Gard included some of the spectacular locations we were able to photograph dogs in.

We all work together to capture each dogs unique personality.
Working together to show off a dogs best side.
Making the perfect pet portrait in Provence France.
Getting the perfect dog portrait in a vineyard in Provence France.
Charlotte Reeves herding puppies so we can get fun photos of puppies running.
Charlotte Reeves herding puppies so we can get fun shots of them running in the village.
Barkjour instructor Nicole Begley cozies up to a puppy with pet photographers Natalie Williams, and Craig Turner-Bullock.
There’s still time for puppy love. Instructor Nicole Begley takes a break from teaching so we can all have a little puppy love.

One of the best and most amazing things about attending a retreat like this is meeting other pet photographers from around the world. We worked hard and worked together to get the most amazing portraits of dogs. We learned from each other and found people we can relate to… The dog crazy, photographers that travel the world, and spend their days finding the best dogs (and sometimes cats or horses), the most amazing light, and perfecting their skills. We do it not just for us but for our clients so they can have photos they love of their furry best friends to cherish forever. It’s quite a tribe of people and I’m thankful to have found them.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my behind the scenes look at Barkjour, an out of the world pet photography retreat. Be sure to follow along on Facebook and Instagram to see additional photos and don’t forget to subscribe to our blog to see the photos from these amazing locations and hear about my adventure photographing dogs in Paris.

XO,

Deanna

 

 

Winter is Here | Behind the Scenes of Our Game of Thrones Photo

We’re pretty excited about the new season of Game of Thrones. Last year we created a photo of Boo Radley as Jon Snow. We had more than a few people ask how we did it so I thought I’d show some behind the scenes.

My husband made Boo’s costume and fit like a harness. The collar buckled and there was a buckle under his chest. He made it that way so that we wouldn’t have to put anything on over Boo’s head.

Here’s a photo of Jamie putting the costume on. Boo knows he’s getting some pretty yummy snacks for his hard work so he’s pretty tolerant with the costume.

Boo getting his costume put on.
Boo getting his Jon Snow costume on.

Typically for the kind of a portrait I’d use studio light. But this day we just set it up in the backyard and used natural light.

Most of the photos Boo had his mouth open and was looking straight at the camera. I had my husband move off to the side with Boo’s treats to get him to look in another direction. This is the photo I selected. There’s still some work to be done.

A look at the photo before photoshop.
Boo snow before final edits.

Retouching the photo was next. I normally don’t do this much retouching on pet portraits but the wall scenes from Game of Thrones has such a specific look to it I needed to make a few changes to make it look a little more like I wanted it to.

First I desaturated the photo and darkened it a tiny bit, then I created snow in photoshop. Now Boo is looking a bit more like Jon Snow. So that’s how we created our little tribute to Game of Thrones.

I’m thinking this year I may need to make an Iron Throne for Boo Radley.

Alright GOT fans, tell me… who do you think is going to sit on the Iron Throne?

 

Boo Radley the dog dressed as Jon Snow.
Winter is Here. Boo Radley as Jon Snow.

XO,

Deanna

 

Fireworks and Fear: Helping Your Dog Cope

Fireworks aren’t fun for the dogs in our life but could they be? Probably not, but maybe they could be a little less awful.

If you’ve read any of our posts about our dog Boo Radley you would know that Boo is afraid of a lot. The vacuum, the laundry basket, the heat vents. You name it he’s worried about it.

When we first brought him home he was terrified of thunderstorms and fireworks as well and he would literally try to dig his way into the drywall. It was very upsetting for all of us. I couldn’t find a way to calm him. I’d shut all the windows to try to reduce the sound, turn music on for background noise. We bought a ThunderCoat for him and he chewed threw it in about 10 minutes. We thought the only thing that was going to work was medicating him.

One night there was a storm coming and Boo was getting nervous so we started playing a game with him. It was a game a dog trainer taught us when we first got him. She called it puppy popcorn but really it’s more of a hide and seek game.

My husband and I each have treats and my husband sits with Boo while I hide somewhere in the house. Once I hide I call the dogs name and he comes to find me. Once he finds me I give him a treat. While Boo is trying to find me my husband hides. We play until he’s tired and usually he’s so busy he forgets about the storm or fireworks. That game has worked miracles for Boo and for us. It’s fun too. We have a good laugh when he runs past us or finds us faster than we thought.

The amazing thing about playing that game is that now even if we can’t play the game when fireworks go off near us he’s not trying to dig himself into the drywall. He still doesn’t love them but he’s no longer a danger to himself either.

Relieve the stress from fireworks by playing games.
Playing games with your dog could relieve the stress from the noise of fireworks.

It can be a long week if you live in a neighborhood where people are lighting off fireworks every night for the first week in July. I hope this game helps you and your dog relax and have fun.

Remember hide, call your dog, reward them when they find you, repeat.

XO,

Deanna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Not to Say to Someone That’s Lost a Pet

When I first started my pet photography business I thought I would be romping all around Denver with the cutest of puppies and active teenage dogs taking photos of them with their sweet fresh faces, playing, and running around with tons of energy. It wasn’t long before I realized many people don’t think of getting professional portraits until their dog is older. I would say more than half of all the people that hire me want me to take photos of their senior pets or even pets that have had a recent diagnosis of a terminal illness.

Because of that, I’ve had many conversations with people who have just lost their pet and after years of listening to their stories I can tell you what not to say to someone that has just lost a pet.

“It’s just a dog.” I think this is one of the most heartless things you can say to a grieving person. The translation is, “your dog didn’t mean anything to me.” Our dogs are with us all the time, they are our sidekicks, our best furry friend, our fur-kids. We protect them, feed them, train them, walk them, cuddle with them. They are the family we choose, it doesn’t make them less important.

“They’re in a better place.” Honestly, we thought they were in a pretty great place when they were living with us and saying something like that makes us feel like we didn’t do enough to care for them. It’s kind of like saying our home wasn’t good enough and we could have saved them if only we would have done more. We know you probably meant to say something along the lines of, “I hope you find some relief that your dog isn’t suffering any more.”  But, even that phrase isn’t quite right because it makes it sound like our grief is selfish. We didn’t want them to suffer, we didn’t want them to get sick in the first place.

“This other dog needs a home.”  We know you think another pet will distract us from our grief and make us happy but the truth is sometimes it can make our grief worse. We adopted Boo shortly after losing our dog Cleo and for a while I felt guilt for liking Boo. If Cleo meant so much how could we replace him so fast? The truth is you can’t. So while I was busy taking care of a new dog, I really wasn’t ready yet and it made me frustrated that Boo had so many behavior problems and wasn’t as easy going as our dog Cleo. The comparison game was unfair to Boo and I just felt like crap all around. We aren’t replacing worn out shoes. We need time to get over our loss and time to decide when to move on.

grief from pet loss.
My soul dog, Cleo.

“How long are you going to be sad?” The translation for this is both, “you’re bumming me out, I don’t want to hear about it,” and, “you’re over reacting.” It’s very similar to saying, “you aren’t normal for being this upset.” Grief is different for every person. Some of us are heartbroken and sad for a month or two and some of us will be heartbroken for months or years. There is no normal. Grief is different for every single person.

After all these years I admit I don’t always say the right thing, in fact I rarely do. So I’m trying to say less and less. Maybe that’s the best thing you can do. Tell them you’re sorry for their loss, ask them if they need anything and then let them do the talking.

XO,

 

Deanna