Photo by Sam Haddix

Hi! I'm Kaylee. And I'm going to tell you something that will knock your socks right off. Ready?

I love dogs.

And oh my gosh, I wish I could say this in a sort of casual, non-chalant, “Yeah I think dogs are pretty cool, no big deal,” sort of way. But you guys… I mean it. I mean like, in a totally and completely bonafide ‘crazy dog lady’ kind of way.

So, it's kind of embarrassing when I walk down the street and audibly and uncontrollably squeal with delight over every little wiggling, passing pup I see. My friends actually try and deter me from the path of an oncoming dog as we walk down the sidewalk – for fear that we'll get stuck in a 25 minute interaction that includes me excessively ogling, squishing and kissing a strange dog with a sometimes slightly terrified owner looking on.

The truth is, I find more beauty, purity and joy inside the iris of a happy dog than I do anywhere else in the world. When all else seems to fail me – I find solace in the smile of a dog. Dogs have this perfect ability to live simply – to live in the moment. And that just fascinates me.

Luckily for me, I was blessed enough to be able to turn my copious amounts of â˜dog crazy' into passion – and that passion into a profession.

Yup, you heard it here folks – I am a professional dog photographer.

I know, I know. â˜A WHAT?' (accompanied by a cocked head, big eyes and sometimes a giggle at my expense; this is the typical response I get when people first discover my job title.) A professional dog photographer. I'm wildly humbled and grateful to say that I've turned that passion into a very busy reality that has me booked almost one full year ahead with both private and commercial shoots. Who would've thought that could even be within the scope of reality for someone who only photographs dogs?! Good gravy! Sometimes I have to pinch myself. I wake up every day and smile. I smile because life is so silly and full of wonder. I smile because Im living my real live dream. And that dream is called Dog Breath Photography.

If you told my five-year-old self what my profession would one day turn out to be – I think her head would have actually popped off with joy. If you hang on just a sec, I think I can hear her squeals of delight from all the way back in 1990. Holy banana sandwiches.

So, after being invited to write this guest post on Scott's blog (but not before I finished the elaborate robot dance of joy that I executed quite fabulously all alone in my studio with my dog looking on judging me harshly), I thought how wonderful it would be to share some of my best tips and tricks. The little golden nuggets of wisdom that I've felt blessed to have learned over the past 5 years of my dog photography adventures. While getting great photos of your client's or your own pets sometimes feels impossible â” I can assure you with the utmost conviction – it's not.

I've got some stuff up my sleeve that you just might find helpful – especially when you've got Rufus set up for the most perfect shot, arranged meticulously in the gorgeous, golden afternoon lightâ” and he suddenly runs off in the direction of that squirrel for the 45th time. (Let me tell you now, as much as you try to reason with them, dogs just don't appreciate the nuances of really good light.)

So, let's dive into some content that will help you get amazing shots of your pets, that will create the illusion that you're working with a perfectly trained dog every time.

As we all know, your average dog is anything but stagnant. No, he moves. And when I say â˜he moves,' I mean like, 65mph moves. Like with more quickness and speed than the fastest, angriest ostrich on the savannah.

And not only does he move – but he drools. He barks. He chases his tail in endless circles. He has the attention span of a gnat.

But most significantly, he speaks an entirely different language than you and I. I know what you're thinking. Not the easiest subject for a photograph, right? Precisely.

Some of the first things that people ask me when they see my images are:

â˜How do you get all these dogs to pose so perfectly for you like that?' â˜Do these dogs just sit there, hold exactly still and smile for you?!' â˜Are these magic dogs from a magical land?'

The answer to that last question is an enthusiastic â˜no.’ While I've had a few dreams about this (these elusive, magical, still dogs), I photograph regular dogs. Real dogs. The dogs you see walking down the street every day. The dogs that fly through the dog park at about a gazillion miles an hour. The naughty dogs that dig holes in their owner's tulip gardens and bury bones in their backyards. Dogs that sniff other dogs' butts. Dogs that lie on their family's couches and fart.

You know, those kinds of dogs.

In addition to working with lots of regular family dogsâ” I also volunteer my time to busy, overburdened animal shelters – photographing homeless and abandoned animals who are waiting for a new family to adopt them. Some of these shelter dogs can be rife with a whole different set of behavioral and emotional issues due to the transitionary states of their lives – fearfulness, abandonment, aggression, loneliness, confusion. Even with these sweet, sweet lost souls who lack the stability of a home and family to call their own – with enough knowledge, kindness of heart and patience â” you can get a winning image.

You wouldn't travel to a foreign country and expect them to speak your language right? The same thing goes for dogs. Don't enter a dog's world and expect them to speak your language â” you need to speak theirs.

Dogs talk through their eyes. Their ears. Their tails. Their body posture. Dogs talk with sounds – growls, whines, barks – you name it. If you want to understand the language of a dog – you need to immerse yourself in their world. Be quiet and listen. Once you spend enough time with a dog you'll learn about what most motivates them. You'll find that canines tend to go totally gaga over one or more of the following things:

  • TREATS (because, you know…yum!)
  • PEANUT BUTTER (this stuff is most dogs' kryptonite, I’m serious! For dogs that can't have peanut butter, cream cheese or canned pumpkin will also work just fine.)
  • TOYS (ask me how many Barbie dolls I had when I was 9…I totally get this one.)
  • SOUNDS (things that go squeak! The most successful way to evoke the elusive and highly coveted â˜head tilt.' And a great way to get the mouth closed and ears pricked up at attention.)
  • PRAISE (dogs LOVE praise. â˜HEY DOG! YOU ARE AWESOME!!')
  • THEIR OWNERS (oh HELLO my humans! I want to love you forever and ever and ever and ever ::slobbery kisses::)



A behind the scenes look from a recent photo shoot. Joshua, above, is wildly motivated by toys. A well-timed squeak here and there, and you're in business!

So, based on the above motivators â” I try to have something in my bag for dogs of every shape, personality type, size and energy level. The trick is to have something on hand at all times that can be used to leverage your fuzzy subject's attention.

Here's a look into what I carry in my â˜treat' bag to every shoot:

Now let me introduce you to a few furry case studies, based on their very real, and very favorite motivators / greatest weaknesses:

PEANUT BUTTER


This is Bailey and her brother Sheldon, hopelessly addicted to peanut butter. These two were over-the-moon for the gooey, creamy, peanut-ey miracle of peanut butter. A dollop of PB magic on each of their snouts, and voila! Kissing boxers!

TOY / BALL


Somebody organize an intervention for Prince, he's a downhill tennis ball addict.

TREATS


This is Logan. Or as I like to call him â˜Treats McGee: Mayor of Doodletown.' This short legged little dude couldn't get enough of the goodies on offer that afternoon, and would often be caught making this face if there was a lapse in the treat handouts. “How dare you stop the cookies?!”

OWNER


Oh, sweet Howler. Talk about a dog dedicated to his owner. Howler had hearts in his eyes for his Mom. He sat like a perfect gentleman for his photos as she directed him from behind my camera. (Howler is the exception to the rule in terms of dog behavior. Howler is actually the exception to the rule for most things. An unbelievable dog with a brilliant spirit who passed away shortly after our photo shoot. As a side note, sometimes, in this industry, your heart shatters in your chest and melts out through your feet.)

The number one priority at any photoshoot is safety. That being said, the concern of safety is amplified infinitely when dogs are involved.

When working with animals – always expect the unexpected. I can't balance a puppy on a fence, tall stump or high rock without knowing for sure that he's not going to embrace his inner Wonderdog and fly off the edge like a superhero. And, Unfortunately, since dogs don't speak English and can't tell me what sneaky and adorable maneuver they're planning next – I have to take extra precautions to ensure that we don't end up with four very cute, but very broken puppy legs or a dog that has playfully run off into traffic. (Cue the sad trombone). So, even with the most well trained dogs, there are certain precautions we always take – especially when shooting in busy areas.

Here's where some of the secret tricks come in. Believe it or not, about 70% of all dogs that I photograph both privately and commercially are on leash at the time that their photos are being captured. (The 30% that aren’t tend to be impeccably trained dogs with a very high level of obedience and reliable recall skills in quiet countryside locations with minimal distractions.)

Getting quite good at removing leashes from my images in the post processing stage of things became an early requirement for me. In order to keep my gorgeous furry subjects safe and happy – it is imperative that I have total control of the situation while shooting on-location. So, In the majority of scenarios, that means puppies safely tethered on leashes for their big close-ups!

Check out a few before and afters below!

before
after

 

before
after

Another great thing about using leashes while capturing images of dogs is that you can use them as a tool to keep your subject in a general spot that you've chosen. If you can find a very strong and stable element within your shot environment, like a tree, fence or rock – you can then tether the dog in place with his leash to keep him there. Once you have the owner free to move away from the dog and stand back behind you – it is almost a total guarantee that the dog is not only going to be placed where you want within your frame, but also looking intently in your direction.

before
after

 

before
after

If you find there's nothing in the environment you're shooting in to tether the dog safely to, there's another great solution! You may have also noticed above that I have a tie-out stake in the contents of my treat bag that I posted above. The stake is an invaluable tool and has been a saving grace at more photoshoots than I can count. Simply twist into the ground (all the way in so that it's nice and sturdy, especially for big dogs) and voila! You have a place to tie your subject that doesn't impede on the aesthetic of your shot and is quite simple and easy to remove in Photoshop later.

before
after

And of course, as life tends to go, there are always going to be situations where none of the above will work well. Situations that fall a little outside of the box. Here's an example.

We were shooting with Mia the Yorkie and Jack the Boston Terrier on a wooden dock floating on the Charles River in Boston at sunset. Here, there were of course no trees, rocks or roots we could tie the pups to. And of course, we couldn't screw the stake in because we weren't on land. In this case, we had to utilize the fuzzy duo's owners to help puppy wrangle and keep the them in their places. As you can see in the before shot, Mia was being held by her Dad, and Jack by his Mom. Once I nailed the shot I wanted of the pups, without moving too much, I asked everyone to step out of the frame. I locked my focus and proceeded to shoot a few plates of the background – images I could use later to paint back in to the shot to successfully remove Mia and Jack's parents from the final image.

before
after

We recently traveled to Australia to teach a series of pet photography workshops. While there, I was lucky enough to have the incredible opportunity to work with a few animal rescues in some of the regions we were passing through as we journeyed across the country. We met this gorgeous little Kelpie puppy at a shelter in Port Douglas and were so grateful to be allowed to take her from her cage and bring her on location to create some special adoption photos. Naturally, we decided to take her to the beach (tropical Australia by the Great Barrier Reef? I mean…is there really any other option?!)

Because we were traveling abroad, we didn't have our regular gear with us. Without the stake or any trees or fences in the area, we found we had nothing to tie this sweet puppy to to get her in place for this shot on the sand. So what do you do when you're on location with a gorgeous puppy in tropical Queensland and you need to get the shot? You improvise!

In this case, we used our 40+ lb camera bag to act as stake to hold this sweetheart in place. As a young, small puppy – we knew she couldn't feasibly drag this camera bag with her off into the sunset in a quick getaway. So we shot with her tethered to the bag, with the intention of removing it later in photoshop.

before
after

In the end, above anything else, the most important thing to remember when photographing dogs is to always keep patience in your heart. We live in such a fast paced world that, as humans, I think sometimes we forget how quickly and urgently we tend to move throughout life. Always remember, dogs don't live by a clock like you and me. And that's part of what makes them so unbelievably special. Their world is not measured in minutes but in moments. Be gentle and have patience – it will be your greatest tool. You may need to fire off 100 frames of a dog before you create something even remotely interesting and usable. And that's perfectly okay. If you can pull enough enthusiasm, passion and whimsy from your heart, it's inevitable that you will find magic.

A dog spends every one of their days on this earth spreading kindness, happiness and joy. With each wag, each smile, each paw print in the sand – they are writing a legacy. As they move throughout this world, they can light up even the darkest night with the brilliance of their unconditional love. With no voice of their own to speak their story, it is entrusted to us – their greatest friends – to capture the timelessness of their spirit. And if you've ever been lucky enough to love a dog, you know that the sparkle in his or her eye – the one that sets your soul on fire each time you look their way – fades out much too quickly over the course of their criminally short life. So don't wait until tomorrow – spend today in their joyful presence. Make memories. Freeze those tiny moments into little pieces of forever. Pieces you can slip into your pocket and hold close to your heart once they’re gone. It's your job to preserve their smile, your job to tell their story.

Because every dog has a story worth telling.

If you have any questions, thoughts or experiences photographing dogs of your own, please feel free to share them in the comments! I would be over the moon to hear from you! Thank you endlessly for spending this time with me here on Scott's blog. (and a huge thank you to Scott + Brad for inviting me along! I might explode with gratitude.) :)

With all the love and kindness I can muster up,
-Kaylee Greer
Dog Breath Photography

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

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105 Comments

  1. I absolutely loved this guest blog! Inspiring to say the least! Thank you Scott and Kaylee!

  2. Awesome dog photos!

  3. Very impressive shots!

  4. Hey Kaylee! Loved your blog. For 25 years I have photographed our bearded collies, while a home or at dog shows. It’s the one thing I love to shoot. Learned a lot of tips and tricks from your article. There have been times I have wanted to do it as a profession. But I’m wondering if men make good pet photographers? I’ve noticed there are a lot of female’s shooting pets.

    • Bearded Collies?!! Tom – we have GOT to see a photo!!! :P

      As far as men being pet photographers, I know a few in the industry who absolutely ROCK it! (I mean, the original, William Wegman, for one.) But. I think the majority of the rest of them must be hanging back to make way for YOU! :P

      But seriously — I do totally understand where you’re coming from in terms of pet photography being more of a female dominated industry. You are definitely right – as of right now, it is. I wonder if, in general, that’s because of the nurturing + sensitive types of characteristics that are required when working with a subject as fragile as animals. Im certainly not saying that men arent capable of this – but just that women tend to most commonly possess the highest values of these character traits. thoughts on this? I notice that the shelters I volunteer in are mostly female dominated as well. Interesting to think about why that might be…

  5. Kaylee, I check out Scott’s blog every day and read a lot of the Guest
    Blog posts. They are all helpful and/or motivating. Yours was inspiring.
    Really. What was starting off for me as a real “dog day” (sorry, couldn’t resist),
    really picked up with your post. It’s not only the insightful tips and
    secrets you shared about your craft. Most of all it’s the deep
    humanity you bring to your work. Your connection with these very special
    beings in our lives and helping us to see how special they are was just
    simply inspiring. I take portraits of homeless men and women to help
    them see something of the beauty and preciousness in their lives. You
    reminded me of the connection we need to maintain between ourselves and
    those in whose lives we have the privilege to register a single special
    moment. Thanks for sharing not only what you do and how you do it, but
    what motivates you and what’s in your heart as you connect with your new friends to bring out their best. Thank you so much!

    • Dennis! This just had me near tears here in my studio. :) There are no words adequate enough for me to thank you for your kindness and the warmth you’ve brought to my day. Your work with homeless people sounds like it is nothing short of amazing. The world needs more people like you — more ‘givers’, more people with a full heart, ready and willing to do whatever it takes to bring a little light into someone else’s life. I would love to see your work one day, I think the circle of inspiration would come right round!

      Thank you again for taking the time to read this and to reach out with your kind thoughts. You’ve put such a smile on my face! :)

      • Hey Kaylee! Wow. Thanks so much for your precious reply. As we say in Brasil, I don’t have words. Just thanks. I’d love to share some images with you. I don’t really have an online gallery. Because of their precarious living situation I prefer not to post most of our street friend’s photos online. I could email you a few though. Would it be okay if I sent them to the contact email for dogbreathphoto.com?

        I hope you have a fantastic day. And may that smile just keep on shinin’.

  6. WOOO HOO!!! I’ve been waiting for Kaylee to hook up with KelbyOne and that moment is finally here. I have only two things to day: #PSW2016 and KelbyOne class!!! Please please please please please please please, pretty please?????

    Oh this makes me so happy. Love your work Kaylee and thanks KelbyOne for getting her to share what’s in her bag of tricks.

    What a great way to start off my morning! Thanks again all!

    • Marie!!!!!! :) You are too darn wonderful! I can’t thank you enough for your amazing enthusiasm and support — this comment made me smile like crazy when I read it. I would absolutely love for you to be my VALS one day, even though I actually have no idea what VALS stands for!! (haha! Am I crazy for not knowing that?) But whatever it is, I’m willing to bet you’d make a great one!! Hugs to you!!! :P

      • Wanted to find you a good reference and while searching online I discovered that I got it wrong, it’s VAL (without the “s”). Joe McNally coined it: Voice Activated Lightstand. Assistant. :) :) I offer jokingly just in case they don’t pay you to bring one along when you are teaching at PHOTOSHOP WORLD after your online KELBYONE CLASS has proved so popular that they just have to add you to the roster of instructors!! People would line up to assist you :) :)

        Very moved by the time you have put into responding to the comments on your post. Your loving kindness shines through. Blessings on you and just keep on keeping on. I’ve commented on your blog (or maybe Facebook page) that I believe your work is going to be hanging in museums one day. Truly astonishing.

        I look forward to meeting you some day.

        All the best,

        Marie

  7. Kaylee, These are some really really great dog portraits! Super clean, vibrant, and creative! I really enjoyed the overview shot of what’s in your bag; the dog treats and such haha. Again, great work!

    • Brian – you should have seen me outside my studio in the grass taking that treat bag contents shot. People were passing by with questionable looks on their faces as I climbed on a friend’s shoulders to get the ‘birds eye’ vantage point. Someone looked at what I had lined up and asked me if I was getting a new puppy and if I needed any tips on being a dog owner. It was awesome. :P

      Anyhow – thanks so much for reading the blog! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your compliments! :)

  8. Probably my favorite article to date!
    Amazing photos, and props to her for her amazing PATIENCE! I would buy these as prints just cause!

    • That is so cool Alexandra — I’ve thought about opening a store to sell limited edition prints but never knew for sure whether or not people would purchase photos of other people’s dogs. haha. So it’s great to hear one vote for ‘yes’ in that arena! :P

      Thanks for your kind words and for taking time out of your day to read the blog!

  9. Thank you Scott for choosing Kaylee as today’s guest blogger. My work as a pet photographer is very rewarding, but it also has its moments… This post helped me start my day with a smile. Thanks Kaylee!

    • Oh man, does it ever have it’s moments!! I hear you, girl! But, as you know, hanging on through all the unkempt silliness and frustration and getting that winning image is what makes the process so unbelievably rewarding. Keep on keepin’ on! :)

  10. All I can say is WOW! These are the best dog portraits I have ever seen.

  11. Wow – Kaylee!!! Love, loved your guest post! Your passion shows thru in both your images and your writing. Such a fun, uplifting post – thank you!

  12. What a fun and uplifting post. Thanks for sharing this Kaylee. Great stuff!

    I was not a real dog guy growing up, as I had allergies to animal dander, cats being the worst. For many years I said no to letting a dog into our family. I was concerned about the fur being everywhere and the furniture and floors getting beaten up. About six years ago my wife and two boys persisted though, did some research, and presented me with a picture of the perfect breed for our family, a Klee Kai (miniature husky). I fell in love with Juneau immediately and have enjoyed her being a member of our family every day since. Yes, the fur is pretty much everywhere, but the furniture is fine and she’s become a perfect house dog. I’m so glad I gave in. They truly are man’s best friend.

    • Juneau is an absolutely perfect name for a Klee Kai! And holy moly is she ever gorgeous!!!! This image, with the snow gleefully decorating the tip of her snout, is absolutely priceless! What a beautiful moment — that looks like Juneau in her happy place. :) I’m so glad to hear that you’ve let a dog into your life and have gotten to the experience that amazing canine brand of unconditional love – there’s really nothing else like it on the planet! :) Thanks for taking the time to read and comment Bill! It made my day to see your gorgeous Juneau!

  13. Kaylee, you are my heroine!! I take photos for two different rescue organizations but normally can not stage the images due to time limitations at adoption events. You are an inspiration. Keep up your enthusiasm and wonderful work. I am including an image that was part of a fund raiser during christmas. Thank You so much for what you do.

    • HOLY BANANAS!! Look at these little squishy guys!!!!! GAH! This is the happiest thing I’ve seen all day. You’ve got a beautiful image here Dale — 4 dogs all making eye contact with the camera AND wearing festive garb?! I know how challenging a shot like this is and I commend you! Amazing — thank you for sharing!! (Also – please tell me there’s a Dachshund calendar somewhere out there with this as their December image?!?!?) :P I could use these little elves in my studio – let them all know I have openings…

  14. Kaylee, What are you using for a lighting setup on most of these? Looks like one light with an Octo or beauty dish? I checked your blog too, but didn’t see any sort of BTS shots. Great work!

    • Hi Matt! Thanks for your kind words! As far as lighting goes, I typically shoot with an Einstein E640 with either an octabox or 22″ beauty dish modifier. I also play with optically triggered speedlights (3-4 of them at a time) usually set up as back lights, especially in some more of my urban nighttime work. I hope that helps! :)

  15. Wow these are amazing! I’d love to know how you do the lighting on some of these!

    • Michelle, I agree, they almost look animated, would love to know the secret, a Kelby One class sounds good to me! :)

      • Hey Michelle + Kent! :) I shoot a portion of my sessions with off camera strobes – which helps to give the images that ‘cartoony’, ‘vibrant’ sort of effect that I’m always after. (if you couldn’t tell, I ADORE color and I want it as bright and wacky as possible at all times. This applies in my everyday life as well. haha!) Namely, I shoot with Einstein lights and either an octabox or beauty dish modifier. (depending on the location + dog). :) Hope that helps!

      • Thanks, love your hair BTW!!!

  16. I am continually reminded of how talented you are Kaylee! I share your photos with everyone I can a. because you deserve all the recognition in the world and b. it gives me a chance to look back through your photos!

  17. My favorite Pet Photographer in a Kelby blog! How cool is that! Great images and Awesome article. Like others here, I would love to know what type of lighting equipment you favor!

    • Hi Arby! :) You’ve got me blushing like crazy over here! I’d recognize that gorgeous bird in your avatar photo anywhere — that’s my next hair dye job!! :P

      I’m in a bit of a transition with lighting at the moment, (eyeballs on the ProFoto B1s!) but I’ve used Einsteins for years now and LOVE them! I can’t get over how amazing Paul C. Buff’s customer service is – so there’s no doubt that whatever I use next, I’ll always have at least an Einstein or two in my kit! :)

  18. LOVE LOVE Your photos have been following your FB page for a while. I love your style you bring such personality. Can you tell me what lens you use for those close ups? That looks like a fish eye but doesn’t have as much coverage as a fisheye? Like the dog on the beach or treats photo? Thank you!

    • Hi Lisa! (LOVE your avatar photo! GAH!) :) Thank you so much for your wonderful words regarding my work! The lens that was used in the photos you’ve noted was my Canon 16-35mm f/2.8. So, you’re right – not technically considered a fisheye – but at 16mm, pretty darn close! :) Hope that helps!

      • Thank you so much for sharing! I’ve been looking at fisheyes but they seem too exaggerated. Lenses are so expensive gah!! Always looking forward to your posts…thanks again!

  19. Sorry to gush, Kaylee, but your dog photographs are the best I’ve seen. I’ve followed your blog and Facebook page for some time, and am continually dazzled by the expressions and actions you elicit from your subjects, as well as the lovely light and colors.

    One aspect of your photography that sets you apart is your use of back-light and edge-of-day light combined with flashes. The results are beautiful Based on the directional lighting, I always assumed you had an assistant who popped a little flash from the side. But in your behind-the-scenes photo, you’re carrying both the camera and the flash. Phew! :) My hat is off to you! I’ve tried to manage both the camera and off-camera flash myself with my own dogs, and the results weren’t anywhere close to what you achieve.

    Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your process and for sharing tips for improving anyone’s dog photography. Your love and compassion for dogs is a delight.

    • Oh my gosh would you just look at that sweet little face!!!! Mark! That little pup is stinkin’ gorgeous!!! Also – you’ve managed to capture the most amazing, swirly purple sky above her (him?) :) – such a lovely photo!

      Also – are you kidding!? Don’t you apologize for gushing! Your kind words totally made my day! I can’t thank you enough for taking the time out of your day to read this and chime in. :) Means so much to me!

      Oh, and as much as I’d love to pretend I’m a complete and total superstar – don’t let that one image above fool you, I do have an assistant who comes along to most shoots as a second hand. :P (I just lost superhero points, didn’t I? womp womp!!!) :P Anyway – hopefully that will make you feel a little better, knowing that sometimes, it does take two. :) (or three! or four! haha!)

      Thank you so much again for reading and sharing your beautiful work! I wish you so much luck in your own photography adventures!

      • Pudgie says, “Thanks Kaylee!” He’s a sweetheart.

        It’s so very generous of you to take time out of your busy schedule to write the guest blog post and then add such heartfelt replies to comments.

        In your business, I imagine it’s nearly impossible to complete some photo sessions successfully without help. But now that I know you do sometimes manage your lighting by yourself, it gives me hope. :)

        Be well.

  20. Hi Kaylee! I follow you on facebook and look forward to every time you post. I cannot say enough good things about your photos of the doggies, your passion, beautiful spirit and your devotion. This world is truly a better place having you in it. Keep on doing what you do best because you are amazing.

    • Leslie, you are so unbelievably kind. I’m so humbled by your words and your incredible warmth. Thank you endlessly for taking the time out of your day to read this and share your thoughts. I appreciate your support to the moon and back! Hopefully one day we’ll cross paths and have the opportunity for an in-person hello! :)

  21. You really are the best and I love your passion and your photos. Wish I could take even one like yours! Looking forward to seeing many more.

    • What an amazing, happy little sweetie! I love this photo! Look at moment of pure bliss! The sun on his face, the wind in his hair, and the fabulous toy that’s bigger than his head bouncing gleefully about! This is what it’s about. Dogs being dogs. Perfect capture. Thank you so much for sharing Jacqueline!

  22. Awesome post Kaylee! Here are 2 of my best pals, Buddy and Holly!

  23. Kaylee, I loved your blog post today. It started my day off with a smile early this morning and I kept thinking about the photos all day long!!!
    Your work is wonderful and like several others have posted I’d love to hear more about how you do your lighting.
    This is our beloved Maggie, taken about a month before she passed…we still miss her very much!

    • Gary, I think my heart just melted out of my shoes. Maggie is so unbelievably beautiful – she is the brightest star in the universe!! Her pink ear bows make my heart happy.

      I can’t tell you how sorry I am that you had to say goodbye to your sweet girl. It’s hard to believe this photo was taken so soon before her passing — she looks very young and healthy. I have a sinking feeling that she was taken from you far too early in life. :( My heart goes out to you. I know how much it hurts to lose a best friend. So much purity and joy sucked from your life all at once, it takes a long time for the heart to rebuild after a loss like that. As they say: ‘an exceptional dog is exceptionally hard to lose.’ She was lucky to have shared her life and her love with you, and vice versa. They make us better people just for having known them, don’t they? And for that, we are so blessed.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post and share your beautiful girl with us.

  24. I loved this blog. Love your passion and photos! Here is one of my little man, Gino, from x-mas.

    • Oh, the cute overload is REAL.

      this is TOO much, Im squealing over here! I LOVE the christmas light bokeh in the background of this one. (Christmas light bokeh is exactly what I did with Howler’s photo – the Rhodesian Ridgeback in the forest, in the article above.) I really REALLY hope Gino made the starring role in your Christmas card last year. :)

  25. Kaylee, I’ve made this same comment on your FB page, but will repeat here for others to see. As great as your images are, and they are GREAT, your writing is equally as engaging. That’s a huge talent unto itself. It’s no wonder that you’ve built a tremendous business in this genre. Suffice to say, I’m envious and jealous.

    • Gregg! :) First of all – AMAZING shot! GAHHHH! That face! Those colors! That scene! Absolutely perfect. I’m completely in love. If that pup is your boy, you’ve just GOT to lend him to me for some photos someday! What a DREAM model! :P

      Second — you are far too sweet with your kind words for me work and my business. I can’t tell you how much it means to me. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and share your thoughts and beautiful photo!

  26. This has to be one of the Top 10 posts that I have read on Guest Blog Wednesday! Awesome photos, and great advice and tips. I’ve passed on the link to this blog post to a friend who loves to take pictures of his dogs, as I’m sure he will love it, as well. Thanks for sharing some of your work, Kaylee!

  27. Awesome stuff. I’ve followed and learned a lot from your work (which is by far the best dog photography I’ve seen). It was a relief and insightful to see that many of your subjects are actually on leash because I’ve struggled so much trying to get mine to sit still! Great post-work too.

    • Oh I just LOVE this shot, Bill. Nothing like a good snout in the lens. (I spend most of my life wiping puppy snots off my lenses, and really, I wouldn’t have it any other way.) :P Truly though, the expression and character in this image bring me such joy. That’s a face that was made for kissing and squishing. Thank you so much for sharing!

      (oh and YES! Leashes! Leashes are your friend. Try that tie-out stake too – Im tellin’ ya – a couple bucks at Wal-Mart or Target and it’s a total and complete lifesaver for puppy wrangling!)

  28. Kaylee! I cannot tell you enough just how much your images WOW me when they pop up on my news feed. You are so talented! I have a quick question – how do you go about shooting 4+ dogs at once? I have one coming up and would love to know if you have any tips. Having them burn some energy prior would be a good start I’m sure.

    Also, this is my frenchie, Oliver.

    Thanks for such a great post :)

    Sarah
    Little Pixels Photography

    • Hi Kaylee,

      Love your dog photography. I take pictures of a lot of shelter dogs to help them find their forever homes. I’d like to make my photos more interesting. What type of lens do you use?

      The one attached is my favorite of my 2 rescues Bella and Chanel. It takes so my clicks to get one good shot. They are so fast. Thank you!

  29. I was thrilled to see you as Guest Blogger today! I’ve followed your work for some time now via one of my former animal shelters. I’ve commented before that you’ve been my inspiration to become a better photographer on behalf of the animals in my current shelter in Virginia. Despite wrangling all manner of critters, mostly without assistance, and in the most awful light to be found, nothing makes me as happy as adopters showing up for a pet because they saw one of my photos and it’s happening almost daily now. :) Thanks for continuing to inspire me to always learn something new and thanks from my many homeless animals who are no longer homeless because of a photo. You’re helping to save more animals than you’ll ever possibly know. You are rock star! Congratulations on all of your achievements.

  30. Kaylee, this is one of the best guest blogs I’ve ever read! You are so honest, open, and down to earth. Just reading it and looking at your pictures made me smile. You really made my day and I can tell you’re very passionate about your work. Your photos are amazing and really bring out the character of the dogs! Thanks so much for sharing…you’ve inspired me to pour my heart and soul into my own photography. I wish you all the best in the future! By the way, I love your red hair…if only I had the opportunity to photograph it someday… : )

  31. Lovely photography, you seem to be able to capture the dog’s soul. Any tips on photographing black poodles in a way that their eyes don’t disappear!

  32. I have followed your work for quite awhile. I love your style and appreciate the insights and great tips you have given. I’ve been photographing dogs for a couple of years, working with a rescue and hope to feel confident enough soon to strike out on my own, You share your knowledge so generously, please know that it is greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Jen! :) Thanks so much for your kind words! So grateful to know that I’ve got your warmth and support behind me. Love this shot you’ve posted above. The background was a wonderful choice, as it so beautifully compliments the fur color of that gorgeous baby! Now that you’ve seen a few before and afters, check out the ‘content aware’ fill in Photoshop and try giving removing that purple leash a go! You’ll find that, suddenly, the photo and the power of the dog’s gaze will have quite a bit more impact! This is a beautiful shot!

      • Jennifer Grant Jones

        Oh thank you – hearing that from you means so so much!! Going to remove the leash :) Have a great evening.

  33. That was a great post, thanks for taking the time to share it and your energy for your work :)

  34. Excellent, interesting, and valuable post on a unique part of this industry. Well done, Kaylee!

  35. Kaylee – I have to say I am very MAD !!! I am mad because you are so good at what you do and the way you wrote this is exactly how you are as a photographer and more people are going to fall in love with you and your work. This will make it harder for me to continue to get photo shoots scheduled with you for my dogs. Mad, mad, mad … but happy for you and the beautiful photos you take of our companions and friends. Your words and photos are so inspiring :)

  36. Now i think we need a KelbyOne course about dog photography with Kaylee :)

  37. Kaylee, I have been following you for a while now and love you work. Porgi, another little white fluff you have photographed is the baby of a high school classmate of mine! White fluffys are my weekness and I love to photograph mine. Here are the two I have now after loving and letting go of 5 others in my life. This is Larry a little malite poo ( on the bottom) and his younger, but bigger brother Snoopy a 23 lb Bichon. Both are rescue dogs, as where all the others except one that I rescued from a puppy store! I have had up to 5 white dogs at a time and truly am the “crazy white dog Lady” here in the Florida Keys where I live! Thanks for sharing and keep up the wonderful creative work. If you are ever in the Keys give me a shout! I would love to see you at work!

  38. Hi Kaylee,
    Thank you for your post! I am just a beginning photographer, but am quickly learning that I could spend HOURS just following around my (and let’s be real…other people’s!) dogs with my camera :)
    Your post was so completely inspiring, and your personality just shone through your wriitng and photos. Thank you so much for what you do, your love for these precious little wonders, and for your willingness to share your tips of the trade with others!
    You have earned a forever fan! If you ever offer courses, I’d love to learn more from you!

    (here is one of my little stinkers. His name is Taxi….we adopted him from a rescue oraganization and is the absolute love of my life!)

  39. Kaylee, I’ve been a fan of yours for years now. What a great blog post! I am working on starting my own pet photography business in my small little Texas town, and I am always looking at your work for inspiration. You ROCK! Would you recommend a good starting camera for someone wanting to photograph primarily pets??

  40. Kaylee, I’ve been a fan of yours for years now. What a great blog post! I am working on starting my own pet photography business in my small little Texas town, and I am always looking at your work for inspiration. You ROCK! Would you recommend a good starting camera for someone wanting to photograph primarily pets??

  41. Kaylee- this post blew me away for several reasons. I’m an aspiring photographer, been a published writer, and always a dog lover. You have the gift- not only in your photos, but your writing pulled me in just as much. On top of that- the ability to slide the bar from left-right and see the before/after on the pictures is outstanding. Of all the reading I’ve done lately, none hit me like this did. Excellent work and thank you so much for sharing your heart- the sincerity and love for what you do is clear and inspiring. Here’s one of my little dude with a huge personality. Fortunately I didn’t need to edit a leash out :)

  42. I didn’t just like this…I loved it! Great ideas. Well written and organized. Wonderful examples. Thanks for sharing.

  43. LOVE your work. Well done :)

  44. I am very impressed by your photos! Specifically the really close up and intimate ones between flowers! If you don’t mind my asking, what are your go to lenses for these photos?

    • Hi John! I dont mind your asking at all! :) The images that you see that are quite close up are mostly all shot with my 16-35mm – always at 16. (you gotta love a good puppy bobble!!!) Thanks for your kind words regarding my work, and thanks for reading!

  45. And the praise keeps coming ;) Thank you again for sharing some pet photography tips to all of us.
    I also shoot with einsteins but never thought to lug those things around to shoot my puppy but after seeing your post, I can’t wait to dust ’em off and put it to good use.
    Here’s a quick share of my grey boston terrier when she was 13 weeks old.

    • Oh WOW! Diego she is just stunning! That little face was basically made for kissing. And not only is your sweet girl just gorgeous, but your photo is as well! The lighting is so lovely, it makes me think of an oil painting by an old master. That beautiful dark floor she’s on absolutely lends itself to the overall atmosphere and the superstar of the shot just shines like a little gem — just incredibly done! :)

  46. What a GREAT blog contribution! As a dog lover and owner as well as photography enthusiast, I greatly enjoyed this. I would have to say you have my dream job. :-) Thanks for these wonderful tips. If anything, I will use them on my crazy three pooches!

    • Oh, Jennie! You are dogs are just gorgeous!! Love, love, LOVE those squishy little faces! Thank you for sharing, they made my day a little brighter! :) So glad that you enjoyed the blog, and I hope you’ll find some of the tips and tricks useful with your furry trio! :)

  47. Amazing photos!!! It’s so alive. It seems that the pictures are moving=) It must be hard to make a photo of dogs,especially to get their attention . I want to become a master in photography too. I like making a picture of cats=) And I read a lot on this theme and find a lot of awesome pictures on https://keepsnap.com/directory . Such kind of photos are really inspiring me=) PS Picture makes emotion it’s true=)

  48. I tried writing something last week but the comments weren’t showing up.
    Kaylee, I really enjoyed this post and was happy to learn about a new (to me) female photographer that does some fun and amazing work. I might be more drawn to the way you play on color with your subjects. All cool!

  49. Omg! Your work is stunning and you clearly capture there personalities! Like you I am proud to call myself a crazy dog lady and am always that person at a party who will spend more time with the dog lol. My passions are animals, especially canine) and photography and just starting my dream of being a dog photographer. I am owned by three rescue golden retrievers, and a special needs cat I found in a parking lot. I volunteer for a golden rescue and take pictures of shelter animals as well. I would love to speak with you. Do you do any sort of mentoring? Also, any tips on how to
    Shoot a dog/cat with eye issues? My cat is missing one eye and her other isn’t normal. Would love to chat if you can! This was just a quick pic w my cell…

  50. I two have been asking for Kelby to do a dog portrait class. You are the perfect person for it! Better yet I would love a workshop with you . None on your website listed. Your talent at getting dogs personalities, the patience I know it takes, and your exuberance is just awesome. I understand. When I go on vacations I take photos of local dogs. Drives my travel companions crazy and they do not understand.
    Your colors and exposures are just so good. So darn good.

  51. I would LOVE to know what kind of lighting you use…Beauty dish? Reflector? Soft box? It would be helpful to know…Thank you..

  52. Kaylee,
    What an absolute inspiration you are !!! I came across your post in my facebook feed last night, and I am , to use a familiar term… “like a dog on a bone”. I can’t get enough of your images, written word or tips and tricks ! I am a fan forever. I started my pet photography journey last year and am learning every day. I would definitely be interested in a workshop if you are planning any ! And I LOVE Boston, I have a bunch of buddies up there and I am constantly up in your neck of the woods. Thanks for the blog, YOU ROCK !

  53. Your photos are so beautiful, thank you for the tips. Do you offer any real video tutorials? Especially for the amazing lighting you are using. I have a passion for photography and a love for dogs and trick training. You inspire me, thank you. Here is one of my furr babies. He has made such a difference in my life and I am so very blessed that he came into my life when he did.

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