There are few tasks that I am not fully prepared for. Very few. Some that come to mind are loosing my video server in a hurricane the day before I go live at a one of a kind “first-in-the-industry” event with the scientific community in San Diego; having a celebrity show up to a video interview hammered on Jack Daniels and to proceed to throw bottles at your talent conducting the interview; A SNL legend telling me he won’t “go-on” unless I find him marijuana to smoke at 6 A.M. in Boston; But never have I felt more frozen than when I needed to take professional images of my Boston Terrier, Copley, for a sample to send to ArleePet, one of my new clients under management of Red 13 Media.
Everything started off great. Copley got up early with me to come into work. I felt really great about taking my little guy with me on business. The first time ever. It was his big chance. His “shot” as we would say in the industry. I gave him the usual fare, chicken and rice. Always fresh and home-cooked. Gave his coat a wipe-down. Cleaned him up nice. I spoil my Boston. He’s a 14 lb mini-Boston with 200 lbs of attitude. He is larger than life. Definitely a big dog in a tiny package.
I never gave it a second thought. I figured he would crush this. As he is trained and a really good boy in most scenarios. But little did I know that wrangling a pet for a photoshoot are waters I have yet to navigate in my career.
I got to R13M and the set was still up from the Susan Warnick shoot from the day before. Score. Jimmy hadn’t taken it down as of yet, and I basically could use it for the living room scenario. I pushed it all up against the wall with Anthony, the CEO of R13M and we juxtaposed everything nicely. Arlee had sent us a few products to choose from to shoot some of our dogs. There was a smaller Rover Rest™ doggie bed that fit Copley perfect. For the record, their beds are super nice. Hand made in the USA. Soft and warm. Copley liked it instantly. Curled right up into it and made himself at home. Until I sat down next to him. I had positioned myself to the left of the bed to position him, but every time we tried to get him to sit still he moved. Or awkwardly positioned his body to play. Shot after shot we got foiled by Copley’s short attention span. “The next time I do a shoot with a pet, I will definitely hire a trainer” I said to Anthony. Wondering in the back of my mind if I would ever get a shot that looked good enough to send to the client.
I came back time and time again during the course of the day. Trying different techniques to get my little Boston to sit still. We played for a half hour or so with hopes to wear him out. No luck. Until Anthony sat down and checked his phone in the chair. Miraculously, Copley sat next to him, ears back and just sat there. I picked up the D5 and started blasting off shots. Anthony went to get up and I said “wait bro, he’s chilling… I’m getting some good shots”. Anthony repositioned as to get his legs out of the picture. This made it easier for me to get the effect of a living room without having to photoshop out the knees in the photo. “I’m getting some keepers!” I whispered, as to not provoke Copley into moving or walking away. In about 90 seconds, I had got what I needed. Plenty of samples for the client. And as soon as I was just about done, he walked off and jumped up on Anthony for a little scratch and horseplay.
What I had thought would be a 10 minute ordeal, turned into an all day event. Two lessons learned. When I go to get more pet photographs for Arlee, I will most certainly get the right professionals in the room, and by that I mean a trainer and dog. And that Copley is no super model. He may be one of the cutest terriers this side of the Charles River, but that doesn’t mean that he’s a model. The learning experience was priceless.