Friday, November 30, 2012

How not to take the Christmas photo

Having recently endured a formal family portrait with four generations of the Farmer’s family (19 of us, including a 3-year-old in a very bad mood whose vocabulary that day consisted largely of “NO!”), I really enjoy the simplicity of taking pictures of my dogs.

One is an OTCh. One is an OTCh.-pointed UD with UDX legs. They can do a simple sit/stay, right? No brainer! Pose the dogs in a scenic setting, tell them to stay, get the camera, snap a few dozen frames and there you go - brilliant new pics for the blog and the Christmas card. Impress my friends and family.

Do you see any new pics here?

There you have it.

I am developing an unnatural attachment to this blog header, which I’ve had for over a year. I kept intending to replace it with a more seasonal snowy pic during the winter but we hardly got enough snow last year to make the effort worthwhile. It was the Winter That Wasn’t.

Several times throughout this fall, I set out to take new pics. All attempts met with limited success. Here is a condensed list of things that can go wrong when photographing allegedly trained dogs.

Pose dogs. Both dogs act like they’ve have no idea what “stay” means.

Pose dogs. Remind them firmly to stay. Dogs stay but give you a hateful, non-photogenic look.

Pose dogs. Jamie moves. At age 13 1/2, Jamie has decided he doesn’t need to do anything he doesn’t feel like. And why would he feel like staying over THERE when the cookies and Mom are over HERE.

Pose dogs. Jamie tips over. Although his vestibular issues have greatly improved since the episode in early October, he is still wobbly and occasionally just loses his balance.

Pose dogs. Phoenix’s ears disappear. I don’t know where they go. Apparently he can fold them directly into his skull.

Pose dogs. Dog A decides he wants no part of Dog B touching him and shifts just enough to wreck the composition of the photo.

Pose dogs. Dog suddenly feels the need to perform personal hygiene.

Pose dogs. Line up shot. Nobody moves. Perfect! Dog sneezes just as I press the shutter.

Pose dogs. Dogs refuse to look at the camera, no matter how many kissy-squeaky noises I make.

Pose dogs. Peel Phoenix off my head. Assure him "Kitty, kitty" was just a joke.

Pose dogs. Phoenix hears a command beamed from the starship Enterprise and takes off to go where no Malinois has gone before.

Pose dogs. Line up shot. Notice huge eye goobers that were NOT there 10 seconds ago.

Pose dogs. Jamie forgets what he’s doing and wanders out of the frame.

Pose dogs. Dogs look in two opposite directions. Not sayin' "Kitty, kitty" again. I don't have a death wish.

Pose dogs. Now Jamie’s ears are sideways. He looks like a Belgian version of Yoda.

Pose dogs. Phoenix decides he needs to hack up a hairball.

Pose dogs. The Farmer pulls up in the pickup and both dogs bolt to go see their papa.

I swear they are trained. Apparently very badly.

41 comments:

  1. I almost fell off my chair laughing at this. It explains why I have to take 8 million photos of our dogs to get one good one. I totally have the ones that forget how to sit and the ones that don't want to be touching each other. And my old dude decides he doesn't want to look at the camera.

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  2. Ha! I usually just tie my corgis to a fence post. That at least removes the "stay" component :) But otherwise it is almost exactly as you describe...

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  3. I'm not sure if the photographer or the dog-owner in me loves this more. I have (literally) been laughing out loud at my work computer.... :D

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  4. Too funny! Having an assistant to dole out treats greatly helps to maintain focus and keep the treats close to the dogs. The camera might be making them feel uncomfortable (eg disappearing ears, looking away) especially if you're not using a tripod. I would try rewarding them for engaging with the camera - put on the lense cover and heavily treat for nose/paw touching the camera and for just looking toward the camera. Holding up a mouse trap might keep Phoenix's attention :)

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  5. 1 to 10 on my list would be dogs do not want to touch or be near each other. Even after they have been cuddling on the couch and bodyslamming each other for hours outside. You pose them and they act like they do not know each other.

    LOL I like the mouse trap idea although I think it would be as painful as the kitty one!

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  6. LOL, to funny!! I think we can all relate!

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  7. Oh the visuals are too funny! I can certainly relate too, altho mine tend to look like I just beat them. LOL

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  8. LMAO!! Well now I feel a bit better than I couldn't get a photo of Famke and Flirty together. Famke was being very good but Flirty was being very bad. LOL

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  9. I feel your pain! Layla got hired to model for a flea/ tick company. They asked if she could sit stay. Of course she can! ...an hour later they got ONE decent shot. Apparently the dogs need to be at a very precise angle and if her legs started to move, or she closed her mouth, or any other tiny thing it ruined it. Toward the end she would NOT sit/stay and I ended up apologizing profusely and swearing that she really does know how to sit and stay.

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  10. I'm very familiar with the non-photogenic hateful stare while staying look. This year, I just pain someone to take the photo! And it was still a challenge.

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  11. Hey! Phoenix has stow-n-go ears!

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  12. Today we took a picture of three dogs and two toddlers. The fact that one was sticking his tongue out, another was making a face, the third looking somewhere off into the far right, and the fourth almost breaking her stay didn't matter (one was actually good and photogenic). All five were IN THE SAME FRAME! That counts as a successful photo shoot around here.

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  13. We just did our holiday pic with our six dogs. By the time it was over I was sweating, the air was blue with some very creative profanity and all the dogs except, for the pup causing all the trouble, look like they all had a good holiday beating before the pic. And the one good pic? I look closer and the pup's uh, red rocket is saying a very merry Howdy-do for Christmas. A fact I didn't see in enough time to artfully drape some bunting. Le Sigh.

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  14. Laughing until I cried! Yep. Sounds just like mine. Posed pictures only seem to work with one dog. Add a second or third and all bets are off.

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  15. As a pet photographer I deal with lot's of this! Gotta love them though. :) Great post!

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  16. I have tears streaming down my face from laughing so hard. Thanks for so comically putting into words what all of us have not-so-humorously experienced! :-)

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  17. LOL how funny,I understand your pain.

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  18. A friend recommended this blog today as I had realated earlier how difficult it is to get a picture of my Splash. First she is very fearful, so the camera is to be feared at all times, second IF I can hide the fact I have a camera she doesn't EVER stop moving! She wiggles and her tail is constantly in motion. So IF I can take a picture, it is blurry! I can so relate to this! LDefinitely made me laugh at my own attempts!

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  19. as a pet photographer, I truly feel your pain - and this is the main reason I send owners away given half a chance!

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  21. Getting a pic of the three of my dogs together is relatively simple (though we occasionally run into these problems too). Taking a pic of just one is a breeze. I try to refrain from making kissy noises at dogs, because I've learned it tends to elicit two responses-either a pained look or they get up to come to me. Now, trying to take a picture of 5 shy/fearful dogs who don't want to be near each other (let alone a camera) and don't really know a sit/stay-THAT was a challenging pic. I at least managed to work up to them all in the frame and a very short stay, but with multiple people around holding treats, their focus was so scattered...That's why I prefer to work by myself with the animals and send people away who offer to help (they end up being more work/distracting than the dogs I'm trying to interact with). This was a very entertaining read though-thanks for sharing! :)

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