Fam­i­lies turn to pros to cap­ture ca­nine mem­o­ries

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Los Angeles

It takes more than a squeaky toy and a cam­era to cap­ture mem­o­rable pet por­traits.

Pro­fes­sional pet pho­tog­ra­phers in the in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive busi­ness quiz own­ers about their dogs’ per­son­al­i­ties, find the ideal set­ting and use fa­vorite toys to bring out the best in the an­i­mals they shoot, know­ing that por­traits will out­live the pets them­selves.

“I spend time get­tingth­emto trustme so I can reach into their soul,” says RachaelHaleMcKenna ofNewZealand, who just re­leased her 15th book, The Dogs of New York.

Twenty years ago, most people didn’t think to put their pet in a fam­ily photo or on the an­nual Christ­mas card. To­day, both are likely to be built around a beloved an­i­mal. Andthe older apet gets, the more people think about pro­fes­sional por­traits.

McKenna and two other well-known pet pho­tog­ra­phers live con­ti­nents apart and all spe­cial­ize in candid pho­tos of dogs in their fa­vorite places, not in a stu­dio. They spend time with people and pets be­fore the ses­sion starts, and they know the im­por­tance of im­mor­tal­iz­ing ag­ing an­i­mals.

Jenna Leigh Teti of Jersey City, New Jersey, of­fers a pack­age for very old or ter­mi­nally ill dogs.

“It’s an im­por­tant shoot for me, a spe­cial thing to cap­ture for some­one,” she says. “An­dit’s hap­pen­ing­more­fre­quently.”

To catch the quirks that bring pho­tos to life, Teti and Los Angeles-area pho­tog­ra­pher Lori Fusaro send letters be­fore an ap­point­ment. Teti asks clients to pick out a celebrity their dog re­sem­bles for clues about their re­la­tion­ship.

A bull­dog owner named Tony So­prano, the mafia boss on the HBO se­ries. The owner of a small mixed breed cited Cary Grant, “be­cause he re­ally knew how to charm the ladies with his dance moves”.

Teti’s meth­ods have cre­ated last­ing mem­o­ries for Zari­naMak and her a pair of res­cue mutts.

“You know when you look at the photo that these dogs are fam­ily mem­bers and not just dis­carded dogs,” says Mak, who had the pooches pho­tographed twice and plans more as they age.

Photo ses­sions usu­ally take an­hour or so, the pho­tog­ra­phers say, and their prices vary, from $175 to $500.

Fusaro has come up with some go-to spots: an out­door dog heads to a hik­ing trail; a couch potato gets a sofa; and an ac­tive pooch frolics on a beach.

She never heads out with­out a squeaky toy, an­i­mal calls and her “se­cret weapon”, a coach’s whis­tle.

“It only works once to get pooches’ at­ten­tion,” Fusaro says.

In front of the cam­era, some dogs are timid and some are hams, McKenna says, but her se­cret for a suc­cess­ful shoot with any ca­nine per­son­al­ity is pa­tience.

“Never force an an­i­mal to do any­thing,” McKenna says. “If an an­i­mal doesn’t want to do it, you are not go­ing to get the im­age you are af­ter any­way.”

There’s not much forc­ing to getMak’s two mutts to mug. She snaps them fre­quently on her cell­phone, butTeti is able to cap­ture some­thing deeper with­out in­trud­ing.

“I could never get the true joy of them on the cell­phone,” Mak says.

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