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Tag Archives: K9


Jill Greenberg does some amazing things with light.  Studying the work of the best, regardless of your field, is an excellent way to improve yourself and advance your own creativity.  Having your work emulated by others can be the greatest compliment.  With that said, the shot above was not intended to be a copy of Jill’s work, though her lighting style was part of the inspiration.

My assignment was to photograph the local police K9 unit and was allowed to shoot them in any style I chose.  For years they’ve had more traditional images taken and this year they wanted to go in a different direction.  I decided on the type of look I wanted and mapped out my lighting.  Given dogs and humans stand at different heights, I wanted to save time and create a set-up where I didn’t have to keep moving lights up and down for each subject. The design was a plywood board set upon two sawhorses.  I could place the dogs on the board for their shots, then easily move it out of the way for the handlers…. problem solved.  I decided to use my roommate’s golden retrievers as stand in models and soon learned something I would learn no other way.

The board I was using has many coats of white enamel paint, making it a tad slick.  Once the dogs were on the board, they were terrified of the footing and immediately lay down. No amount of coaxing could get them to sit up.  Simple fix… clamp down a rug to the board.  But even with better footing, the dogs still didn’t like being 3’ off the ground.  So enter my 15-month-old model, Owen.  He’s the son of a friend who my roommate was babysitting for at the time.  I turned to her and said, “throw the kid up there”.  Once she let go, Owen started crying… I quickly snapped a couple of shots and viola… Jill Greenberg rip-off.

With the lighting set, I was left to wonder if police K9s will be worried about being on a table.  So I called the lead handler for his opinion… “Three feet?  That’s all?”… Apparently I need not worry.