This week’s list was a little different that usual. Nine pit bull puppies! The most adorable, sweet and cute wee things you have ever seen. Yikes! I love puppies just like most everybody else but to photograph them is tough. Usually the issue is that they are so stinking cute that they get adopted quickly and their pictures rarely make it up on the website. They require more time and the use of the pictures is so low that sometimes it doesn’t seem worth it. But the truth is that any attention that one of my pictures can bring to any of the shelter animals then that is worth it. So here are the steps I took for such a fun yet daunting task.
First we went and surveyed the pups. At this point I was mainly concerned with color. They were primarily white. With the exception of two, just patches of color here and there. Immediately I thought of the xpen set up that Bonnie and I had used some time ago. It is time consuming to set up but with this many pups it made sense. It gives us a bit more room to let the puppies be puppies.
We opened up the xpen to the largest configuration and I got inside with the pups for more of an eye level view. I also used one of our smaller storage boxes for a makeshift “stage” at one end. This allowed the pups to be elevated a bit and with me sitting directly on the floor. Covered the back of the xpen and stage with one of the kitty studio backdrops (3 yards of fleece) to create some nice soft draping. Since the pup’s primary color was white, I chose to use a soft pastel blue. These guys would have looked great on almost anything but I lean towards blue backdrops as they just tend to be more pleasing.
Setting up the lights, we had to be a little creative. Still using our 4 shop lights, we positioned them so light would fall on the faces. This took a little maneuvering and creative clipping but it all worked out in the end. Because we are using the wall cabinets as our backdrop, the challenge was purely logistics. Power is never were you need it and the most convenient place to clip the lights is not always the best to light your subject. To help the lighting a bit I did also use one of my newest camera toys. I recently purchased a flash bouncer attachment. In this situation it really helped. We had a relatively low (8′-6″) white ceiling. I will write a bit more about this flash attachment in the coming days because it is a wonderful tool.
Puppies are a tremendous amount of work to photograph. Making a fun and secure environment for the puppies to just be puppies is half the battle. Having a few squeaky toys and alot of patience is key. My handler did a tremendous job switching out the pups and keeping them in some order.
At the end of the day both my handler and I were exhausted. The puppies were all back in their kennels taking big sweet puppy naps and dreaming of their new families. After one day on the website and lots of facebook attention, 2 of the original 9 have been adopted. Hopefully they and their Momma all find loving homes in the coming days.