If I make a dog look a little goofy, I’m praised. If I make a person look a little goofy, I’m told to delete the photo immediately. Though I love photographing people, dogs are my favourite models.
Two and a half years ago, I told Crash (my pug) to sit down under my lights and I started snapping some photos. I had no idea what I was doing. I wouldn’t have dared to ask a human to pose for me, afraid of making them look bad. But Crash was patient, cute, her schedule was open, and she was very affordable (treats and praise go a long way with her).
We created the above image together that day. The pale blue background and her orange eyes complimented each other well and I felt proud of this image. I shared it on my Instagram and soon after had a friend commission me to capture her dogs too. Suddenly, I had a new job as a dog photographer.
At the time, I was inexperienced with posing human subjects. I had no idea what to tell a person to do—whether they should put their chin up, turn their head to the side, look here or there. I was essentially blind to what made a person look good in a photograph.
Dogs however, presented a beautiful mix of innocence, confidence, vulnerability, depth, and emotion without requiring me to coax anything out of them. I wasn’t intimidated by the challenge of bringing out their spirit as a photographer because they shared it with me so willingly in the first place.
While continuing to gain experience behind the camera with dogs and the odd landscape, it was in the midst of my Yoga teacher training course that something interesting dawned on me. As an aspiring photographer, I may not have known how to make a person pose and look good (yet). However, I realized that I was surrounded by perfect models that needed no direction—Yogis.
My Yoga teachers were essentially masters of posing. I understood that they could perform an asana (pose) for me and all I would have to do was put them in the right light and compose a shot. So I found the courage to photograph them. I had now discovered another unique kind of model that I could work with, in addition to the dogs. Together, the Yoga teachers of Kaulika Yoga and I created some beautiful images.
With experience from photographing the Yogis, I overcame my fear of making people look bad and started to find the confidence to pose people on my own. I began exploring portraiture with friends and family. I appreciated their willingness to be patient with me. Together, we created some timeless pieces.
From there, I’ve been photographing nearly every subject that I’ve been invited to, always with the intention of capturing their beauty, uniqueness, personality, and spirit. From business/professional headshots, to events, to engagements, and more, I’ve come a long way as a photographer since I began with Crash that one evening in my bedroom.
Though I’m no longer afraid of making people look goofy, I’ve still got things to learn and challenges to be overcome, of course. Maybe you (or your pets) will be a part of that one day.