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.