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Tag Archives: Photography

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If you’ve ever shot dogs in studio before, you know you have about 90 seconds of their attention and that’s it.  Show dogs on the other hand are much easier to shoot, they are predisposed to holding a position and being in the spotlight.  Police K9s?  Well, they obey well, but they’re high strung because they think they’re going to play… and to them “play” usually means chasing down some crook and chomping him like a chew toy.  That’s rather intimidating when the only thing  between you and them is the camera – especially when they are looking at you as though they are aching for the command to pounce!

Remember when I said I was worried the K9s may have issues with the table?  On cue those beasts leaped effortlessly on it as if they were cats.  Of the five dogs, only one seemed to be in hurry to jump off the table.  The others hammed it up pretty well.

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Using the table setup certainly was the way to go.  Once the dogs were done, it only took a few minutes to get through the handlers.  The only challenge there was getting good expression… by nature, cops strike an “infallible” pose.  I wanted to show their human side in these portraits and save “infallible” for the group shot.  It wasn’t easy.  I had to pull out some really corny jokes to get them to relax and smile.

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It was now time to shoot the group as a whole and I saw this as an opportunity to use a lighting set-up I had never used before, but wanted to try.

I was envisioning outdoors in the evening, but needed soft light.  I also needed a secluded place, with power available to run my strobes.  Fortunately, the management at PPD allowed me to use their employee parking deck.  I had scouted the building the previous week and selected my area… I can’t stress enough the importance of location scouting.  On this occasion, I discovered I would need approximately 300’ of extension cord and about 200 pounds of sand bags for the light stands. Larger groups mean larger light sources; with even a small breeze, large light sources become sails.  Since we were shooting on the top level of the deck, weighing down the lights was paramount.  Losing a light to the wind is one thing, having it crash on a person six stories below is another.

The last major challenge was the dogs.  K9s are alpha dogs and don’t always play well in groups.  Shooting at sunset means slower shutter speeds and trying to keep five dogs tightly posed and still just ain’t gonna happen.  The solution was to shoot the handlers alone and then bring in each dog individually.  The final image is a composite with all the dogs.

When all was said and done, the results of the shoots exceeded the expectations of the department.  As a result, we have a number of future projects planned for additional department units.

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