Preparing for your outdoor photoshoot with Doggy Dates Toronto

Never work with animals or children they said…..

I have been doing dog photography for over 3 years now, but like anything that’s worth having, what we are trying to do is not always easy. I am a perfectionist, I dream about photography, and work obsessively at being the best I can at my craft. I control as much as is possible about the session which I structure and time around the sunrise/sunset. That being said, and in order to manage expectations, I stress to every client that this is outdoor, off leash dog photography and dogs will be dogs (which is why we love them so much)! 


Training and tricks 

The most important thing that we need from your dog is to be able to hold a sit or down position for at least 5 seconds. If you can spend some time practicing this in the lead up to your photoshoot it will be the most important investment in the session. If you can get them to hold this position for even longer, even better! If you want to incorporate a high five, a treat catch, a roll over, or any other tricks you might like your dog to do feel free to practice in the lead up to the photoshoot session. These extras are absolutely not essential, these are just for fun if you wanted to try them. If we cannot keep your dog in a stay position - no problem, we will use a leash (which will be removed in post production.)

Grooming

If your dog is regularly groomed, it would be great timing to get a groom done in the days leading up to your shoot. A quick nail trim also looks great.

The morning of the shoot

Please arrive no later than the agreed time. The different locations/backdrops of the session have been purposefully chosen to work with the position of the sun, so if we start late, we will not only miss the sunrise, but the rest of the shoot won’t be as ideal as it can be. The beautifully saturated colours of the sunrise only last 15 minutes or so and we need time to acclimatize your dog to the camera and flash. Whilst I know it’s tough to get up so early, it’s not only the best time photographically in terms of light and colour, but also there are less distractions around for your dog at this time.

Treats 

We go through a lot of treats during a typical photos shoot so I strongly advise against feeding your dog prior to the session. Please bring some peanut butter and a selection of your dogs favourite treats. I will bring some liver treats, but it works well having some high value treats on standby. You will need more than you think you will need - we go through a lot of treats!

During the shoot

I will acclimatize your dog to the flash/camera and once they are comfortable we’ll go straight into the session. When I am doing close up work with your dog, your best place to stand is behind us and just enjoy the show. The close up shots work much better if I can get your dog to focus solely on me (hence the treats!). During the action /running segment of the session, you will be involved in getting your dog running towards me at high speed! If you wanted to take any behind the scenes photos or video we always welcome any footage you can send or tag us in!

Collar

Think about the collar your dog is wearing. I will leave it up to you if you want the collar on or not. If you are comfortable with it being off for the shoot I believe the images look better this way, but it is totally your call and comfort level. 


Extras you might want to bring

Water - there is one location during the shoot where your dog will not have access to water so during the hot summer months, you might want to bring some extra water. During the colder months, you may want to bring a blanket / coat for your dog, particularly if they are small or not winter loving dogs.


What happens after the shoot, when and how do I get my images?

Within 24-48 hours after your photoshoot I will send you a gallery of approximately 30 unedited images for you to pick your favourite 10, 15 or 20 (depending on package) that you would like edited. 

Editing times vary, but I should be able to send you your final high resolution images within 10 days to 2 weeks after I receive your choice of favourite images. 


I love the images so much I want to print one - what now?

If you have chosen a package that includes prints, you will have a meeting or call with me to discuss printing options. If the package you choose does not include printed products, we can still do an ordering session with you. There is a considerable amount of additional work involved when printing images which is why I handle this in house.


Payment

I take a 50% deposit to secure your session. The balance is paid after the photoshoot has taken place and once you have decided which images you would like me to edit.  On receipt of the balance of your package the images will be edited with a typical turn around time of 10 days to 2 weeks.

These last two years have taught us many things, one of those things being how much our dogs have been fundamental in helping so many of us during the pandemic. Hell yes, let’s celebrate them.

For more stories about unconditional love and the transformative power dogs have on our lives check out the Don’t You Want Me Project.

Feel free to share this blog if you want your doggo pals to get in on the Doggy Dates action!


Dock Diving at Maplelane Farm

Last weekend I was commissioned to do a photoshoot at Maplelane Farm - a private 3 acre off leash park with agility courses and a dock diving pool - this my friends, is pure bliss to a photographer who loves action photography and very happy dogs. I’d been lucky enough to take my own dog Jet for a practice session just a couple of weeks prior and was so impressed with their set up that when Sarah reached out to me about doing a shoot I jumped at the opportunity.

Because the farm is an hours drive from Toronto, and because dock diving is physically demanding for doggos Sarah got two of her good friends to join us for the afternoon so that the dogs could take breaks and wouldn’t get too tired. 

Introducing you to our flying doggo team - Percy, Cora and Chip.

Percy

Hi, my name’s Percy, Prancing Percy to you. My mum is a trainer at When Hounds Fly so as you can imagine I am impeccably well behaved. I also have many additional talents - tricks and painting being two that I particularly excel at. I sold my first painting for charity last month, obviously I am also a philanthropist. 

My absolute favourite part of the shoot was high speed doggo diving into the water. I have a very special (superior) technique that Jack hadn’t witnessed before, it’s called the run, stop and jump maneuver. I run to the edge of the dock, have a quick pause to think about how epic I’m going to be, then I fly. 

My technique put Jack and his photography skills to the test, but he seemed to like the challenge, so I’ll definitely bring him along to capture my elegance next time my mum takes me dock diving.

Cora

Hi, my name is Cora, and did you know, even though I had never done a dock dive before, I did my first ever dive when Jack was there to capture it! 

My mum is a dog trainer at Dogs on a Path and she’s just the best thing ever, so naturally with her guidance I felt brave enough to jump! Now that I’ve jumped once, you bet there’s going to be nothing stopping me. My favourite thing (after making mum happy) is a nice piece of buttered toast! Also, excuse me, but did you see my eyes?!

Chip

Hi, my name is Chip and I have never been dock diving before - looks very scary. My mum is a groomer at Timmie Doggie Outfitters - you can check out her work @petstylingbycassie - she’s very talented and is also the reason why I look so incredibly handsome. 

My favourite thing to do at the photoshoot was to run laps around (and definitely not in) the pool. Because my mum is amazing, she made a little outdoor jump for me too. Am very good agility doggo. I also prefer bananas to the expensive raw food mum gets for me. Am very special doggo.

If you’re interested in doing a shoot at Maple Lane Farm please get in touch with Jack via the website to arrange a session. Please note, it’s very rare that dogs will jump from a dock straight away so this likely wouldn’t be a shoot for any new to dock diving dogs.



Stories of hope and transformation - a new antidote for pandemic times

Stories of hope and transformation - a new antidote for pandemic times


Think Humans of New York except with queer people and rescue dogs. This exhibit is bringing people to tears. 

If you’ve been to Cherry Beach or Withrow dog park recently you might have noticed a new outdoor art exhibit. Not in the east end? No problem, the Don’t You Want Me photography exhibit will be on display at Stackt Market from August 4-18.

The Don’t You Want Me project examines the lives of queer people and their rescue dogs by creating a visual global platform for them to tell their stories. Finding strength and purpose in the unconditional love given by dogs we watch the project’s subjects heal and transform. 

The project’s aim is to highlight what happens when the marginalized receive unconditional love and support. This bond and the subsequent personal growth form the backbone of the Don’t You Want Me project. 

A quick Q&A for you!

Why rescue dogs and why queer people?

This was simply the combination of our life experience, Deb, my project partner was involved in dog rescue and is a portrait photographer, I’m a dog photographer and happen to be trans. The narrative side of the project documents the transformation of each of the subjects, something that I drew upon from my own transition. 

Why now?

People need art now more than ever and with the drive to hold more events outside and a visual project that embodies people overcoming great adversity, the timing was perfect. I know the pandemic isn’t the worst time in some of our participants’ lives and that in itself might prompt a much needed discussion.

Do you think the pandemic has brought more awareness to the vulnerable in our community? 

Yes and no. Because of the news people are more aware of how the pandemic has impacted our most vulnerable, but oftentimes the thought stops there. Perhaps more powerfully however, I think people have been forced to be a little more introspective. 

Certainly when the pandemic first hit, people were scared. Scared about losing their jobs, losing their businesses, scared about how they were going to pay the rent or mortgage. Alcohol sales rocketed at the onset of the pandemic, and continue to be considerably above average so I imagine people may have more insight into how it feels to experience more uncertainty, not to work, not to have routine, not to have those support networks around them that so many took for granted, yet the more vulnerable simply don’t have. Isolation and poverty are their own pandemic.

I feel like we are living through a revolution and people are no longer tolerating discrimination and injustices or abuse of power. I believe the events of the last few months have taught us that we need to radically change how we support and help our most vulnerable. 

The project has just announced a partnership with Wild At Heart Foundation - a dog rescue, education and advocacy organization whose values align so perfectly with the project that we’re working together to offer a first of its kind grant. The grant will provide ongoing support to individuals from the LGBTQ community who desperately want and would benefit from having a dog, but who can’t afford one. The grant will also include dog walking services (courtesy of Doggy Dates Toronto) for a community that often earn less, live alone or are without family help nearby. We will also be integrating DYWM’s mission into WAHF’s education curriculum! How cool is that?!

Move over pharmaceuticals, all some people really need is love.



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