Dog portraiture: Portrait of an old lady

Cover of Canis bonus pet photography photo shoot of elderly dog.
By Laure-Anne Viselé, June 2010

An old greyhound rescue

Meet Saar, an old greyhound mix. Saar was rescued years ago in a total mess: she was scared of most people, and wouldn’t let even her new owner touch her anywhere but on the snout. Years of care, love and patience have transformed this lady into a retiring, but trusting and happy companion with an unquenchable thirst for touch.

[singlepic id=2529 w=320 h=240 float=left]I met Saar’s owners, two personable and chatty ladies, while out shooting a park for a Green Secret documentary, and I took impromptu shots of their flat-coated retriever (Saar was not with them). We got talking and immediately hit it off. That’s when they mentionned Saar. Saar had to stay home due to her old age and rapidly worsening health. They were worried we were getting near the end of the road for her.  They really wanted some precious shots to remember her by.

Less than ideal light conditions

We eventually set a date for the shoot, some weeks down the line as my diary was, as ever, jam-packed. So, I dutifully went on a recon to a suitable place (it had to be safe, quiet, flat and pretty), worked out the time for the best light, and did some background research on the dog.

The week of the planned shoot, the owners cancelled the shoot. Big snag as the next possible date was weeks down the line. Given the pressing nature of the shoot, the owners decided to keep the appointment after all, but to squeeze it from 4 hours to 2, and to restrict it to a home shoot only.

Given the dog’s circumstances, I went on with the shoot in those less than ideal conditions. I got there on time, but in a sleepy haze (it was rather early on a week-end morning). While the owners were going through their morning routine, I started looking for potential shooting backdrops, doing the necessary light metering and getting the dog used to me (those behaviour therapy studies came in handy!).

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The photos below are the result of that Saturday morning’s photoshoot in challenging conditions. But in the end, I am really happy with the results: Saar’s gentle and soulful eyes simply shine through.

Any comments?

I always value your comments, so don’t be shy and share your thoughts. I would particularly like to hear from you if you:

  • Own or have owned an older dog.
    • Did you ever order a photo shoot towards the end to remember it by?
    • In what other medium would did you store memories of your older dog?
  • Are a pet photographer.
    • How do you deal with shy and/or flighty subjects who cannot eat too many treats?
    • How do you deal with strictly in-door shoots at client’s location?
  • Are a viewer and have comments on the picture.
    • Did you (not) like it? Why?

Further reading

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