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Westminster: Take 2-or Why I Enjoy Pet Photography

Posted By: James Morrissey

Westminster: Take 2-or Why I Enjoy Pet Photography - 04/07/14 12:40 AM

New York City Pet Photographer, James Morrissey, of Wild Coyote Studio, shares some more photos from the 2014 Westminster Dog Show and talks about why pet photography is important to him.

Posted By: James Morrissey

Westminster: Take 2-or Why I Enjoy Pet Photography - 04/07/14 03:20 AM

The 2014 Westminster Dog Show was a banner year for us. While I shared an awful lot about the mechanics of the 2014 show already, I thought it might be fun to share some more photos. However, in this article I thought it might be nice to talk a little bit personally about what brought me to pet photography.

I am not sure if people know this, but prior to focusing on pet photography, most of my professional photographic work was in event photography. One year, I photographed 28 weddings and Bar and Bat mitzvahs while carrying both a full time and another part time job. Pet photography, either professinal or personal, never crossed my mind. It was not until 2005, when one of my pets passed away that I realized that I did not have one good photograph of him. Not one.

Losing Roger (our cat) was difficult for me. In many respects, the entire process felt a bit schizophrenic. LOL, I am not saying that in a psychiatric sense, but in the sense that I felt I received a lot of incompatible responses from other people in my life who knew how I felt about my pets. My favorite responses were from well meaning people who would suggest that I just "get a new cat." I even heard, "It was just a cat" on a couple of occasions. If this had been a human life, I don't think anyone would be so cavalier. Don't get me wrong, I really do understand that my pets are not humans - but that does not lower their value for me. If anything, it just creates a sense of marginalization on the value of their loss. Almost 10 years later, I can still picture him in between my wife and I, ever so gently, so that he could be in the middle. Lol.

It was during this time that I guess I realized that I really am one of those 'eccentric pet people.' I started photographing the rest of our beasts extensively at home and I realized just how important the photos were to me. I also realized that I am probably not the only one in the universe who feels this way about their pets and decided that this could be seen as a valuable service to others.

While I have a varied clientele, I believe that the majority of my clients are those with older pets. People who realize that tomorrow is not necessarily a guarantee for their pet. I have gotten a bunch of calls from clients after the events stating that they had to put their pet down - and those moments are always so difficult.

Believe it or not, this is one of the reasons why I enjoy the Westminster Dog Show so much. Sometimes my work can be a bit sad and photographing all these young, healthy and well taken care of pets in the prime of their lives is a thrill. It can be so much fun to photograph the 'uber' dogs at the peak of their careers.

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