I know this is a line that’s probably really expected from me, but I’m gonna say it anyway:

I am so EXCITED!!!

Why, you ask?! Because I just recently got back from spending an amazing week down in Tampa, Florida with the KelbyOne crew filming my new class, and somehow, by the power of the god of lightning and those little greek shoes with the wings on them that make things go really fast, the video has already been edited, made into magic and released!!!

We designed this new class around the one question that I get asked most often when people see my images:
“How are all the dogs you photograph so incredibly well-behaved?”

You want to know the big secret? They’re not. :)

We thought – what a brilliant idea it would be to take a look behind-the-scenes, to pull back the veil and show you what it’s truly like to photograph dogs in real world situations. (And not just any dogs – no, we’re talking extra challenging, extra wild, extra wacky dogs!) The class was an absolute blast to make and, harkening back to my earlier sentiment, I am SO excited to share it with you! Here’s a quick way to get there if you’re dying to see!

I thought – before I get into telling you about all the things I really want to tell you about today – it would be fun to share a few behind-the-scenes shots from the class filming. (forgive the quality of these photos, they’re just iPhone snaps. Because, you know, why would you use one of the 6 or 7 high end DSLRs that were just hanging around within a 10 foot radius of you when you could use a cell phone? HA!!) Oh, and you should be especially excited about that puppy. Because I am.


Now let me get in to what I’m here to talk to you about today:

The Immeasurable Importance of Personal Work

This is a really, really good time for me to be writing this blog post and I’ll tell you why.

In January, everything feels new. I get to start again, wipe away the slate and build everything even bigger and better than I ever have before (of course, I could do this at any time, during any month or any day of the year  – but like the rest of society, seeing January 1st pop up on my calendar usually kicks my butt into gear in a way that any other date on the calendar could only dream of). So all of this being said, in January, I tend to do a lot of dreaming. I do a lot of thinking up big ideas, of making tremendous plans and setting goals that are so high they scrape across the sky. I have all these wild schemes to travel here, to journey there, to chase the last bits of yellow light across faraway landscapes, to follow my heart to shelter dogs across the world. I want to share more stories and give a voice to countless more voiceless.

I guess what I’m trying to say is; I have a heck of a lot of things I want to do. :)

So what’s my point here? When I think about all of these big dreams and adventures, I realize that almost every single one of them wouldn’t fall under the category of ‘commercial’ or paid client work. I suppose that’s the thing about chasing down that flickering light that’s causing such a burning in your heart – its intentions come from a place unmotivated by money or material things.

So, I have this great big pie-in-the-sky dream for this year. And that is to do more personal work.
And when I say ‘personal work,’ I’m talking about the kind of work that sets my soul on fire. The kind that makes my heart beat just a little bit faster. The kind that fills my stomach with little yellow butterflies just thinking about it.

See, here’s the thing about commercial and private, commissioned work. That stuff is great. Brilliant, actually – and I’m endlessly grateful for it. It pays the bills, keeps me sheltered and warm during these miserable New England winters, and keeps my favorite little four-legged dude’s bowl full of food.

However, commercial work can be creatively limiting. Commercial work means having a client that you have to please and whose preferences and opinions must be considered. There are deadlines and invoices and approvals. And most times, this translates to creativity and vision being controlled and ultimately, compromised.

But personal work? You know what’s so impossibly beautiful about personal work? It’s all up to me. I can make magic as big and as colorful and as absolutely unapologetically ‘me’ as possible. It’s limitless.

I have had the lucky privilege of traveling quite a lot and working all over the world. Throughout my adventures, I’ve been blessed to have met a lot of talented photographers. But here’s one thing I’ve found quite commonly in a lot of the creatives that I meet: It strikes me to discover that a lot of photographers seem to forget the immeasurable, unmatched value of personal work – only shooting for their clients, but never for themselves.

So here’s my secret for you: You don’t have to be being paid to be shooting. Just go outside and shoot.
When I was sitting in my studio today, thinking about all of the things I wanted to say in this blog post – something really big hit me. But don’t worry, I’m okay. …

(That was a joke. How’d I do?)

I realized that I have built my entire career on a foundation of personal work. It is at the very core of how I got to where I am today.

Say Whaaat?!

It’s the truth. I got my start in photography by volunteering my time at my local animal shelter. There was no motivation for money. There was no end game or specific intention to do anything other than share the stories of the animals that I loved so much. I watched them as they patiently waited for their families to come find them and I was fueled by passion. I was fueled by the way I felt when I looked through the bars of those cages and saw the big, round eyes of the forgotten looking up at me. Nothing more, nothing less.

If you have enough passion for the thing you’re photographing – for the moments that you’re capturing –  being paid or not being paid to make those images is an irrelevant detail. Because you can’t fake passion. You can’t change it. You can’t control it. And that is what’s so brilliant about it. That kind of authenticity brings people from miles. When you’re shooting personal work – you’re shooting something you’re passionate about – no rules or restrictions or regulations. It’s the closest you’ll ever come to your one true voice as an artist. And thats why it’s just so damn important.

So you’re reading this and you’re probably saying — “well, this is all well and good Kaylee, but I’m a professional photographer, and I need money to live, I can’t just be shooting personal work all the time.”

You’re right.

But here’s the thing. Personal work pays off in a huge, huge way. It’s the magic in your body of work that moves the hearts and minds of clients.

It’s the icon – the face – that defines you and what you stand for. It’s the visual representation of exactly what it looks like on the inside of your heart, and it will very likely be the most moving reason that a client will dig into their wallets and hire you.

You know when you wake up in the middle of the night with an idea? And that idea is so big it fills your head and spills over the edges of the piece of paper you’re furiously scribbling on to document every last detail? And you think of it for days and days and it makes your heart beat faster and it makes your head buzz with the feeling of possibility? That’s where the magic is! Put your finger on it and hold it right there!!! That’s exactly the thing that you need to be shooting! Money or no money. You go, you chase that idea down and grab it by its tail and you create it. You breathe life into it. JUST SHOOT.

So, getting back to that whole ‘extreme value in personal work thing…’ I thought, sure, I could write this blog post and rattle off all my thoughts and feelings and leave you with a million pretty adjectives about why I think personal work is important, but maybe I should put my money where my mouth is and actually show you some real life examples of what personal work has done for me.


This sweet girl here is Abby. I met Abby last year when I was visiting a friend’s ranch property down in Southern California. We were there to relax. Hike. Have campfires. Walk under the stars. You know, just generally get away from the madness of business and emails and deadlines, etc. We were there to be simple. To ‘vacation’.

Here’s the thing though — a funny little thing I’ve found throughout the years —  you can’t take a vacation from passion.

I saw Abby happily chasing the rancher’s tractor as she was transporting bails of hay out of the barn. I looked up and saw that fairytale sky – those sweeping clouds, dancing through the deep blues of the late afternoon. The California sun was sparkling overhead, swirling through Abby’s fur and warming our skin. When I have moments like this — moments where inspiration strikes me like a dagger in the chest – they feel so familiar. My heart begins to slam against my rib cage in a syncopated rhythm – reminding me that moments like this don’t come twice. So I shoot. I just need to shoot. That’s passion. There’s no rhyme or reason or formula that can make any sense of it. No. It’s nonsense of the absolute best kind. It’s actual magic. So, I did what I needed to do and was suddenly on a mad chase back to my cabin as quickly as my feet would carry me to grab everything I needed to make Abby’s photo.

I spent about 20, maybe 30 minutes, photographing Abby that day. The resulting images brought me no money, no fame, no special awards or accolades — they just brought me joy in my heart. They simply brought me pride and satisfaction for bringing and idea to life and capturing that spirit of canine that I love so much. That’s all.

Well, fast forward a few months later – I got a call from the editor of one the biggest dog magazines in the industry. My heart skipped a beat when they told me they had seen Abby’s photo and wanted it on their cover. Not only did that opportunity bring me a paycheck – but it also brought me that unbelievable feeling of walking into a Barnes and Noble and seeing my work staring back at me from the shelf.


How about this next one? This is my own dog Joshua. That basically means that every photo I take of this magical little creature is really just personal work. It’s me wanting to document every moment of silliness and joy that he so selflessly brings me on a daily basis, just as one would want to document their wedding or vacation. No one is paying me to photograph my own dog. When I create his images, all I know for sure is that, while not getting paid in dollars, I’m getting paid in beautiful, tangible memories that I’ll be able to put in my pocket and hold close to my heart for the rest of my life. And that’s all I need for motivation.

Well, one hot Summer day, I took Joshua to his favorite lake for a swim. We got into the water and started splashing around, playing fetch and just being generally silly and carefree, as we like to do. But then, minutes in – I got that familiar feeling again — that pang in my heart and that pounding in my chest when I know I absolutely must capture a moment. So right then and there, I left Joshua with his Dad and I hopped in the car, wet bathing suit and all, and went flying back home to grab my gear just as quickly as I could so I could return and make this image.

Since then? Not only has this image brought me countless smiles on a personal level – but it’s also been featured in multiple commercial ad campaigns across the world – – bringing me a sum of well over 5 figures in licensing fees to date.


If you’re not convinced on personal work yet, hang tight, I have a few more for you…

Here’s Joshua again. It was another one of those times – the kind of vision that would wake me in the middle of the night. An idea that brewed in my head, taunting me in every quiet moment, until I took the time to give it life. I took Joshua to a local park, bought a comical amount of balloons from the local party store on the way, and with the help of one of my best friends  – made this image. (If you’re thinking ‘it cant be that simple’ – you’re right — don’t let me fool you –  this image was an absolute marathon of frustration and obstacles and audible cuss words to make. ha! But I suppose that’s another post for another day.)

Now, I have this photo of Joshua as a 40 x 40 piece of artwork hanging in my studio. I look at it everyday and his joy and spirit infiltrate and inspire me like absolutely nothing else does. But, what has this image done for me, professionally, you ask? Fair Question.

Last year, it was featured in an ad campaign by a large pet food company bringing me income and brand awareness. It was also the cover image on The Unexpected Pit Bull calendar — an organization whose work I care very deeply about.

It was an interior image in my 2016 calendar ‘Pawsitive Thinking’, it’s in circulation on the front of a Birthday greeting card, and it’s printed on the new Dog Breath Photography clothing line that was just released this past Fall. WHEW! (oh, and shameless clothing line plug: BOOM!)


Okay. As I said above – what’s all this personal work talk without real life examples, right? Right. So, I saved the best for last, because here’s my favorite one ever.

A little while back, I took a special trip down to a quiet little city in Florida called St. Augustine to visit my grandmother. When I was in town, I got in touch with an old friend of mine who I knew lived in the area and we made time to meet. This friend of mine has 4 beautiful dogs and we decided to take them on a walk. I casually brought my camera along, thinking I might be able to do a little practicing of photographing multiple dogs together while we were out there. I snapped this photo on the forest path just as we started walking in. I delighted in the image as I looked at the back of my camera, but then counted that moment as nothing more than a documentation of a special afternoon with a dear, old friend and 4 beautiful canine souls. And that was all I needed.

I never, in a million years, would have imagined that this image from our walk in the forest would soon be solely responsible for making one of my longest-standing, most surreal dreams come true. Earlier this year, I was contacted by National Geographic who had seen this image and wanted it as their cover photo for the premiere issue of their brand new magazine  – Nat Geo Wild. (hang on a second while I go sob joyfully and uncontrollably for like 30 or 40 minutes..…)


So, here’s the thing. Personal work MATTERS. It matters more than I can ever say. It creates untold opportunities. What is inside your heart is far more important than any client plan or commercial call sheet for any shoot that could ever happen. So, that’s why, this year, I plan to do a heck of a lot more of it.

If I could recommend one thing, it’s this: Don’t sit back and watch your email inbox, waiting for something big to happen to you. You go happen to IT. Go make yourself opportunities. Go find those dreams.

‘Cause heres the thing about dreams; they can be elusive, sneaky little devils — but take it from me, if you chase them down with every last breath in your chest – you can catch them,

…and they do come true.


Now that I’ve inundated you with some of my favorite images, I would LOVE to see some of the personal work that you’re most proud of. Post away in the comments and I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for your work! I’m excited to see what you’re all up to!! :)

From the very bottom of my heart, thank you for reading this and for filling this world up with color and creativity. Grateful to be living, breathing and creating alongside all of you!

-Kaylee

You can see more of Kaylee’s work at DogBreathPhoto.com, and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, 500px, and Twitter.

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53 Comments

  1. Kaylee – Awesome post! Thank you for sharing your insights into personal work and inspiring me. As photographers it’s so easy to forget about what caused us to pick up a camera in the first place, doing personal work is a great way to stay connected with those feelings. Here’s a link to a few of my personal projects: https://adobe.ly/2jiFtpt

    • Oh I love this Brian!! That action shot of the dog with the leash in his mouth! I laughed out loud!! hahaha!! Too cute!!! I also adore that close up image of the horses eye — that is so, so beautiful. It’s easy to tell that you are passionate about animals when I look at your work. We are most definitely kindred spirits!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and share those images with me. It just made my day that much brighter! (and the sun sets like really, really, depressingly early here in Boston this time of year – so I can truly use all the brightness I can get!) :)

    • Great images!

  2. I love your work – it just makes me smile! And, now, I love the story behind some of my favorite images. Thank you for the encouragement to do the personal work. As a portrait photographer, I have 7 “grand” reasons for personal work!

    • Does that mean you have 7 magical little grandchildren Margaret?! I think thats what I’m reading! Yup, if thats not the most beautiful reason for personal work, I don’t know what is!

      Thank you so much for your kind words, I’m so grateful to be able to create images that bring smiles!

  3. Amazing post as always! A few years back, I photographed a friend’s wedding for free, as a gift. Although I didn’t make any money from the wedding directly, the creative freedom given to me allowed me to make some of my most creative wedding photos ever. It’s photos from that very wedding that most of my new clients cite as being their deciding factor in hiring me. Maybe there is something to this whole “personal work” thing after all… :)
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b2f6b763d2481cd1b599eb5f3576143ab9f38c794834a3c32ce431b1a9d2a824.jpg

  4. Is Joshua just an outstanding model, or does he work with the other dogs to show them how its done?

    • Joshua didn’t come stock from the shelter as a great model, but with enough peanut butter cookies, he sure did learn his stuff over the years. :) I think these days, he should think about opening a modeling school so he can teach his findings to fuzzy canines across the globe.

  5. I absolutely love your work. The energy & passion really shines through.

    There’s this bridge that’s along the shoreline that my dog (Joshua) and I used to walk across all the time. I had always wanted to work it into an awesome sunset, but I could never (for lack of better words) see the whole story.

    Fast forward to 2015. Joshua was now 15 and in the end stages of a disease called Degenerative Myelopathy. He had lost all ability to stand on his front or back legs. One Sunday morning, I took him out to “our spot” and we had breakfast in the rain. Due to the distance of getting out there, I had stopped taking him. But we bought him a cart and I pulled him out on the 1/2 mile journey. He loved laying out on his blanket and enjoying the air. I took my camera with me because I wanted to document our time. When we packed up and got ready to leave, that’s when this image popped in my head. It was a bit of a walk for both of us, so I only had one real chance at this. I set my camera up to take a shot every 2 seconds and we just walked. Sadly, I had to help him “cross the bridge” just a few weeks later.

    While it took years for this to come to fruition, it only took a moment to capture one of my favorite photos. I’ve always called it “heading home”.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/468be7b69c4a2681f8e310cb209e010b3f467bd15abde69fc92c837d37f37e45.jpg

    • Oh, Steve!!!! I am in tears over here! What an absolutely beautiful story — and the image – the image is so, so special. My heart breaks for you that you had to say goodbye to your Joshua. I’m so, so sorry to heart that. AA Milne once said, ‘How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.’ I believe, with all of my heart, that the dogs who come through our lives and journey alongside us leave us better, and more whole, when we come out on the other side. Of course, that doesn’t make it hurt any less. (By the way, I think we must have talked before because I know of only one other person in the world who also had a dog named Joshua, and I think I’m remembering you from another exchange we had once before! YAY for having dogs with the weirdest dog name ever!!) :P

      I love this location, I love this bridge, and of course – most of all – I love your Joshua. It’s so special that you took the time to make this image, because it will serve as a part of Joshua’s legacy until the end of time. Your bond with him is so evident in this photograph – and the two of you there, in conjunction with that epic sky and those cool blue tones, tells such a special story. It is such a beautiful and emotional metaphor. You are both so lucky for having known each other.

      Oh, and thank you so much for your kind words regarding my work – there is nothing that I am more passionate about on the whole planet than capturing the infinite joy that is so uniquely canine, so your compliments mean more to me than I could ever say!!

      (also, I am not opposed to you posting more photos of your Joshua here….just sayin’….. :P )

  6. Yes! I love your enthusiasm Kaylee, it spurs me on (alongside a gazliion other people I’m sure!) It’s wonderful to see how many of your personal projects have paid off – just shows how import it is to do something for yourself – for personal development and for creating those images that are truly meaningful. You inspire me to chase my dreams, no matter how impossible they seem, hats off to you for that.

    Speaking of inspiration, you directly inspired this image of my little princess Poppy. Living in Britain our skies are probably a little more cloudy than across the pond, but seeing all the wonderful skies in your images I thought hey, lets give it a go! So we climbed to the top of this chilly hill and put Poppy on a rock, bribed her with biscuits and voila! Thank you for influencing me to try something new! :-)

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c4f09a1f4723d9641f5bb4a891de1d224da41a3e6648c43f5b518ec54ad41871.jpg

  7. Kaylee,

    I am so in love with your work. Reading your blog post i felt like i was writing it when you described that rush feeling you get when you have to stop and run get your camera before you miss that perfect moment. Animals are my passion as well. Feel free to offer any advice you have for someone who is really just getting into the photography world. This photo is my friends dog that she rescued a few months ago. Her name is Barkley and this picture just makes me so happy so i wanted to share! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/68f1cb02cc909b74002ec0b9a422cf48d8616e6af1f8aab1d8db78d0dbf35342.jpg

  8. Congrats on all your success ! it is quite incredible to witness, i can only imagine how humbling it is to know you inspire and spark that light of hope for others. Fabulos , thank you Kaylee!

    • Thank you so much Jenni! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your kind words! :) I am floored, humbled and just plain grateful to be in a position where my work has the ability to inspire others. If there’s only 1 thing I could ask for in life, it would be that. (oh and also to earn the love of a good old dog. There’s nothing quite like that, too.) :) Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment!

  9. Kaylee

    I love your work. Your pictures are beautiful and always makes me smile. This is a picture of my girl Chance. Took it on my phone. But it’s the last picture I took of her. She passed away over a year ago. But this picture brings me so much happiness. I call it her supermodel pose. This picture captures how silly and full of personality she was.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/01a3b467100041fc171445941568ecfc8a1427d8e192b3237c9c1b6519bf2314.jpg

  10. Hi Kaylee. Wonderful article from you! Inspiring as always! I’m a huge fan!

    Here’s a nice story for you.
    I have been volunteering for an animal shelter in Ireland for 18 months. One day a dog turned up in bad condition, very bad mange, a heart murmur etc (Photo 1). She was named Precious.
    I soon fell for her as she was just so sweet natured. Nobody would adopt her due to the heart murmur.
    I tried to get some family members to adopt her but they couldn’t.
    I regularly walked a westie for a family who couldn’t walk him much. I sent them the photo and a video of Precious, they loved the look of her, and were sad to hear of her bad luck story. To cut a long story short, they adopted her and they adore her, and she them. She is still called Precious and is the happiest dog in the world. She is very healthy and has been off her heart medication for a while now, and thriving. I regularly get to walk both of them. I love them both. See below for photos!

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c730ada6ca71cf2b36dd2d5f6a208c4d0182261b4cff8746b73b261e3a55717f.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e9f1cbfd69b2be8a77ef87290631bd7c2b0dc84c2b11b5a6e00132578fd67265.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fb74a4a0953fa08ed581f88ebe966ce95c2e40c1b3b74cfc78aa537822e80589.jpg
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ba20890fc987eecba3d7f0c30eccb28bb8d870894dd8f92b62dc235f7290700d.jpg
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/01c6a061ff3b080b5d807b37464135c439069f6a6ca64af4e1ae15affcc9de46.jpg
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ff1a4de68fe52cfc424ad6ad524d1559ba8566079d3295889b33bf0ff3ede00e.jpg

  11. Kaylee, such a great post! You are an inspiration to us all. I’m looking forward to seeing you again at PSW Orlando this year!!!

    –John

  12. Kaylee, you are amazing! This blog spoke right to my heart! As I was reading this on public transit my eyes were tearing up and I was saying “yes, yes!” to all of it! I have been volunteering at a cat sanctuary since 2009 that houses almost 500 cats that cannot be adopted out for various reasons. I started taking pictures of the cats over those years. I now have a page dedicated to those kitties called Feline Friday (cause Friday is the day I volunteer there).
    But it was my Max who really inspired me and brought out this passion. He only lived for 5 years due to heart issues. He was a silly, goofy, happy boy. He made me laugh every day. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f16ed1281a3db0ce0d7bb6f16f737e5747a61f300af1b0897f5ec1d5f1939147.jpg He was my heart and soul and will always hold a special place in my heart. The picture I have attached is my Max. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1513d7bbcc44fabc7ad20466b3d833eadd3103fdbeaf71640e25eb9a1db66aa5.jpg
    I still take a lot of pictures of my 2 babes (kitties) I have now. Photography and animals are my passion (especially cats) and I couldn’t imagine my life without them. The time I am taking pictures of animals is the only time I feel totally at peace. It is definitely my passion and I am so happy that I have that passion!! You are really an inspiration to me and I hope one day to see your work in a book, maybe? ;) Thank you for your words and your amazing photos! <3

  13. Hi Kaylee, your work here is so very awesome! Congrats on that Nat Geo cover!!!!! Both of your Kelby classes are awesome as well. You make it look so very easy! I love this blog article. I have a daytime job, and pretty much photograph for myself as a hobby. Shelter work is fun and rewarding and I’ve picked up a ton of experience there. My big enjoyment is taking Arby Macaw out for hikes or travels and photographing my best buddy. I can totally relate to the fun of photographing and later time spent making the photos come to life. It’s the best!!!! I wish you the best in 2017 and look forward to following your adventures!!!! Lance and Arby https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c94d20bbd2ca36b97bdb2bb71bfdc27b6f73be3bff88e196a0b74657c418945c.jpg

  14. Kaylee, thank you for the inspiration. I have followed you for a while, and you, your work and your words always make me smile. Photographing dogs is my happy place, and 98% of my work is done in or for our local shelters, whether it is taking adoption photos or doing fundraisers to help take care of those sweet babies. I want to encourage people to donate their time to shelters–nothing is more rewarding! This sweet girl shown in the picture is Pebbles. She has had a tough life and is currently available for adoption. Here’s a link to another picture of her that I took, published on People.com. http://people.com/pets/adopt-me-pebbles-needs-a-family-to-show-her-what-being-loved-is-really-like/ Maybe one of the readers here will want to give her a home! :)

  15. An infectious message from one of the most infectious personalities in photography right now. Well done. And congrats on all your success; it is well deserved. Keep dreaming big.

    My passion has always been image-making. But after college life took me on an extended detour – a 12 year extended detour. I stopped drawing, printmaking, and didnt pick up a camera once in that 12 years. Notta once :(

    Feeling unfulfilled in my day job, I sought out new, better, more fulfilling ways to invest my time. And started volunteering for an organization raising pups to become guide dogs. It changed my life. And got me back image-making.

    On a lark, I entered a contest for a photo grant to pursue a personal photo project related to the guide school. Somehow I won and got to document a little of the schools inner workings at their breeding and whelping kennels – an extraordinary place. Something I always wanted to do.

    You can see some of the images here :

    https://family.coseedphoto.com/guiding-eyes-for-the-blind-an-inside-look-part-1/

    This project and others like it kickstarted leaving the other job to shoot more fulltime. And I’m thankful every day for it.

  16. I am in tears as i read this blog. I am in awe of your work and as I’ve commented several times on your posts, you are living my dream. I started volunteering at a local shelter about 5 or 6 years ago and this volunteer work (and my dogs) are what gives me a reason to open my eyes in the morning. I opened a small studio to support my rescue work and it brings me such joy. Growing up, I, like you, had dreams of shooting for national geographic, so you really are living my dream life.

    I’m sharing a picture of my foster Bear that I shot last week. I fostered him for just a few weeks a couple of years ago…and he was a perfect senior…friendly, quiet, happy and confident. He was adopted to what was sadly NOT a perfect adopter, and after about 8 months Bear came back to the rescue as a different dog. He had been neglected and / or abused and had lost his joy. Foster guilt is powerful and I took him back into my home and swore to keep him for as long as it took for him to get back to his old self. After about 18 months now…I have realized that probably isn’t going to happen…and he is going to bark for no reason, wake himself up with a nightmare and lash out at me in the middle of the night, bite for no reason (with the one tooth he has left in his mouth), and to generally be a grumpy monster especially if there is a stranger around. So this weekend, this Bear is adopting me. [I didn’t want to be a foster failure, so he filled out the application to adopt me instead so my record is still clean!]

    Bear and my other rescue dog Mya love to go to the studio with me for shoots…they come in early with me to get the lights set and to pick out the props, beds and backdrops, and then they go to the side and wait patiently as i coax the smiles and head tilts from the rescue pups. Then when I’m finished, they scurry about, helping clear up any stray treats that my “clients” might have missed.

    I hope someday to have the chance to meet you…but until then I’ll be following your work and being in awe at just how amazing you are!

    Lisa Binns
    http://www.ShelterDog.photo
    http://www.facebook.com/ShelterDogPhotography/

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/72d8b4b5febdac7b4d1af2836acb4451a93789b162bf494abc3eb3d941e652b3.jpg

  17. Hello again Kaylee, I’ve been following you for quite some time now and I’ve watched and learned from your kelby one courses. Thank you, thank you. I may have shared a photo of my little boston terrier whose name is Sofi on your FB in the past… She’s gotten used to the camera and I absolutely love trying different lighting techniques to get something a little different. Both shot with a fuji X-T1 mirrorless.
    Hhttps://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6b1ad00c3cb517fc4f64936d65be6c21d337dcb92ca849c0fd6dbd6614fabb7a.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b9e7dd9f7fdf9f7624ad2f2a73ea65112e7a0b44fe7d94b5e5c555681af68fc0.jpg

  18. Your work is so inspiring to me! My new goal for this year is to try pet photography. We have a 7 month old puppy named “Lady Bug” (named by my daughter) and last summer when Lady was 8-9 weeks old I took some “newborn” photos of her. I’m so glad I took the time to do it. Not only because it was a fun little challenge but it sparked my creativity and she grew SO FAST!

  19. Hi Kaylee,

    Love your work, it was my dog Abel that got me more and more into photography as I wanted to capture most days with him. I have now undertaken a 365 photo challenge to try and improve overall.

    Your work is an inspiration and your story is one every can relate to.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0e173ac680ec3883863e89df55c88b638a3be33dc724ee5f05c54741f2a8a41a.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6159d7870d3ffa4511b2843ccc4d26e6d9000dfdd2de266f58b7b8bf0b844589.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/86b4ae4023b1586492ea9d567b25851f7c5b4399298aaeb62edae403db50f814.jpg

    Managed to capture these with D3100 and kit lenses :) Hope one day to capture special moments like yours… although I don’t think I’ll be swimming with him anytime soon!

  20. […] post It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Kaylee Greer! appeared first on Scott Kelby's Photoshop […]

  21. I love your stuff. Had a chance to meet you briefly at Photoshop World.. and your hubby… he’s also a great photographer but seems more… ummm… NOT A CRITICISM.. more in control. He’s gotta be the business end of this duo.

  22. Hi Kaylee

    Great post and love your work and you’re right, there’s nothing like photographing for personal reasons to bring out the passion and beauty in what see before us. It particularly helps when you have wonderful ‘subjects’ to capture and be creative with, not only allowing us to fully immerses oneself into their passion completely but the joy and pleasure you get from it is immeasurable at times.

    These three little energized bundles of joy are my furkids and I guess like yourself, every opportunity I get I’ll be taking photos of them. The one below by confession is captured using my iPhone, as I didn’t have my camera with me that on the hike, it may not be a feature worthy image but its one that brings a smile to me every time I look at it. And isn’t to bad for a phone photo :)

    If I could ask you one question, it would be where do you outsource your ‘personal work’ how do these multinational companies hear or even see them?

    Keep up the stunning work … in what form it comes in :)

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/891aa3df4272d08bb2366e1abb41cdc104d43a43557f8b7b271aa8c64b471614.jpg

  23. Oh Kaylee! I don’t have words for how badly I needed this post. I’m at my desk in my day job a day after seeing a CPA about starting my business – a day after excitement and fear and doubt and a million other intense feelings – with tears running down my face and very concerned co-workers asking if I’m OK. No. I’m not ok. I’m an emotional mess because I’ve had an a-HA moment from the deep places that passion and childhood dreams and pizza leftovers live. Starting a photography business is … terrifying? overwhelming?… and after weeks of thinking about how I would present myself to the clients, what clients would want from me, what that client relationship would be, client, client, client, client, I’ve come across this message that has me thinking back to my own deeply personal take away from the business and why I love photography in the first place. That in all this process I shouldn’t lose sight of where it started and why I run back to my house for a photo that will surely make me late to my job and the worthy risk of standing knee deep in creek water with my dog barreling at me. I shouldn’t lose sight of the personal joy and the pride I feel from something I created on my own, for me. I’m bookmarking this post, because I feel I’ll need to refer to it when I feel lost in my own business adventure. Thank you for what I can only refer to as needed reassurance.

  24. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ea1eda4 8001ec73546697f3566b2ecd451793f225a4be3b9df94b8d7b76d1462.jpg
    Hi Kaylee,
    What an awesome inspiring post! I truly believe that we do our best work with something that we are passionate about. Your work is amazing and inspiring. I plan on doing more photography of my two black labs this year. Speaking of which, this is one of my favourites of my Black lab Nikon. It was taken shortly after we got him home (probably 9 weeks old). He is 3 now and we have given him a brother from another mother…Shadow now 6 months old. (in truth they are brothers…same dad different moms).
    Thanks for all that you do and continue us to do. All the best!!

    Paul

  25. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/29dbc84c7e784ecfa067fec3d99557c9cc6afd05dbe783b334e01a89dbba6421.jpg I love your work…the photos are beautiful but also your love for the dogs show through every single photo. I love dogs too….and cats.. and horses. Dogs to me however put forth their personality in their photos the most. I am not a professional but seeing a creative opportunity brings that same pounding of my heart that you expressed in this blog post. My dog who is 12 is so used to my camera that he will get into any position I ask. Of course he is given treats. Every good model must be paid well. This picture I have attached is what immediately came to my mind as I was reading your post. I was visiting my cousin in Montana and her 4 dogs were playing outside. They were all rescues but this particular dog had a story that still sits with me. A bus was passing through town where it broke down. Inside the very hot bus dogs were discovered packed in up to the ceiling. The dogs were saved from what surely would have been more misery and were adopted out. This is Bella, who had a giddy smile on her face for the 4 days I was there. I captured this shot after all four dogs were having a blast running around playing. She was resting for a moment nicely framed by the barn. I think she is so beautiful inside and out.
    Thank you so much for sharing your work, you really are an inspiration to me

    • Sharon! You are amazing! This shot is amazing!!! I LOVE Bella! My heart absolutely broke reading your story and thinking of this sweet girl stuffed inside a hot bus, likely destined for a very sad fate. When I look at this image I see her second chance, I see a smile that speaks joy, and eyes that hold stories. She is truly breathtaking. You did such an incredible job with this shot – I love that barn in the background! So grateful to you for taking the time to read my ramblings (haha!) and for posting this beautiful photo – you just brought me such a smile!!!!

  26. Hi Kaylee,

    I just wanted to thank you for a great blog post. I think that your work is great. I have watched you first class on Kelby One and I am looking forward to the new class. I also went to your class at Photoshop World last year and i thought you did a great job!

    Below is a picture of my girlfriends lab Hazel, we went to the park one day when mom was at work to play in the snow and I got a few pictures while she was running after her toy.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8cbbeb953fd3b3cbce5cdf3bc5cd145d43c05111cc0da9d6711991c2eaa64819.jpg

    • Her eyes!!!! They are like two amber gemstones shining there in the middle of her little velvet head!! She’s absolutely mesmerizing! Oh man, I love me a good Chocolate Lab like Hazel. They are so endlessly photogenic!! This photo is fantastic – you caught such a great moment here. It’s really hard to nail exposure in the blinding white snow too, so huge kudos to you for that!

      Rich, I can’t thank you enough for coming to my class at Photoshop World!! I can’t begin to say how much that means to me! Seriously, I looked out into the crowd at every little face staring back at me and gratitude just smashed me right in the chest. It was completely surreal to me that people would come out to hear what I had to say. ME? Just little ol’ Muppet-headed Kaylee. Oh my gosh, I was so excited and nervous and nauseous all at once that day! hahaha! It was such an invigorating experience and one that I’ll never forget! I’ll be back at Photoshop World again in April and I couldnt be more excited!! (and this time, I’ll be a little less pukey, I think!) :P

      • Kaylee, Thanks for the complement on the picture of Hazel.

        I just bought my tickets for Photoshop World and I am excited for April in Orlando. I saw that you are teaching 3 classes this time, congratulations! I am sure you will do great. I have teaching background and will never forget the first time I taught in front of a middle school class and how nerve racking it was, I literally could not stop shaking as I tried to demonstrate how to do something to the class. I think that it is so awesome that you are willing to take time out of your super busy schedule to share what you have learned and your experiences.

  27. Thank you so much. What great images and such a supportive, inspiring message. I often feel guilty for just wanting to shoot for fun, that I should somehow be striving to go professional. I can’t imagine there’s a spot for what I do, never mind being good enough, but reading your fabulous article is affirmation that I should just do it – immerse myself in it, live the moment. For me, it’s like the need to breathe. Thank you ?
    http://facebook.com/BlinkUK https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9c7a9d36f736d55a587e5bf02b96ec37cdfad5eab03fd09aa84c34441f3975de.jpg

    • WOW!!! Oh my goodness, this is incredible! That dress is outrageous! The whole thing just makes my heart skip a beat! I’ve always wanted to photograph dancers, and this image reminds me of exactly why. Your work is breathtaking. You should be so proud of this. Thank you for sharing it Karen, and don’t you stop making this incredible magic!!!

      • Thank you for your incredible feedback, Kaylee – I am truly stunned. I want to create images that make people go, “WOW!”, just like your image of Joshua and the balloons does for me. I’m still grinning now and I’ve looked at umpteen times! It’s an inspiration.

  28. Aggg!- I’m going to read this over and over and over. I Love your writing!
    Your work is amazing and so inspiring. I’m new to Pet Photography and spent a good portion of last year waiting for everything to happen around me (LOL) Over the Christmas period I decided I was done with that and started to work on my own things. This photo is the start of something awesome! My own girl- photographed for no one but myself and the response I have had from it on my own social media page has been amazing! I cant wait to do more me stuff! and thank you for writing such an awesome post!

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f8a709e17d1120f6de00978118d9754ba78abb977d815e2ca6c468b9cb45ed74.jpg

    • Rochelle – this is SUCH a special image! Those stars!!! What a scene, wow!! Yes – this kind of work – doing something so outside of the box like this – THAT is what is going to get you noticed, and eventually that is what is going to bring in all those clients. I am so happy to hear you got up and got into gear and made this happen! Amazing what kind of magic you can find when you simply go out looking for it, am I right?!

      Thank you so much for saying such nice things about my work and my writing – and thank you for taking the time to read and share this image!

      (PS – Your girl is STUNNING, and I love your photography business name too!)

      • Aww thank you! I never thought Id actually be able to pull it off! Amazing what happens why you try!
        Sapphire is THE reason I picked up my first camera(Dark Sapphire is her Kennel name). Shes got some old age healh issues now and we are running out of time. I owe this opinionated Dobermann everything. These moments captured are the most precious things I own. XX

  29. Kaylee,

    What a terrific post. Spot on by the way. Fantastic images, Bravo! It was my dog Logan that got me back into photography. That personal thing that made me happy. Documenting our journey together. Although I do stray sometime with commercial shoots, my guys are always around whether at the beach or at home processing images. Again, thanks for a great guest blog post. It made my day!

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/34742eb04bcb8d275eda8ec5a3a7454bab3d1bcf7c77d8212635ffc4f6906aff.jpg

    • These two faces!!!!! GAHHHHH! Oh MY what gorgeous Goldens!!! You know what I love too? I LOVE when long-haired dogs get wet like this and get that amazing crimpy texture to their coats! Goldens do it so well! And also – these guys have a set of smiles that could save the world! Thank you so much for sharing this Scott – you should have seen how big I smiled when I clicked to open your comment and saw this!! :P

  30. Hi Kaylee!!
    What a lovely post! I, too, am a January super-duper planner!

    Thanks for sharing your light with the world! You are a true gem!

    This pic is of a Victoria Crowned Pigeon at the North Carolina zoo. It’s memorable to me because the bird truly posed in all sorts of positions down on the floor of the aviary for my camera for about ten minutes. :) https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1de4eb5b4d5eb56a9896948ee69acf8baa04fafa2009ef7e57b4a71a2dbb2f9e.jpg

    • Oh Wow!! Heather!! This is so gorgeous!! What an absolutely breathtaking little avian friend! And his hair style is fabulous too!! :P But seriously – what an incredible image! This little guy just brings me so much joy! I would print and frame this sucker so I could look at it everyday!

      And thank you so, so much for your kind words! They mean so, so much to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read and share the story behind this beautiful photo!

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