Monday, January 27, 2020

Short Answers!

The next couple of posts will be multiple questions that don't require longer answers. I am limiting these to three questions so there isn't as much information to take in! I would like to thank Kim and Odebt for these questions.  Please, without questions there is no blog so ask, ask, ask!

What is preferred? To have the judge and handler look at the dog, or the camera, or vary it? Some handlers are so proud of their accomplishment and can't help but look at the camera, but is it considered more appropriate to look at the dog every time to bring attention to the dog? 

One should always look at the dog, it’s a dog show, technically, the dog won! Most judges already do this; some even move out, and turn slightly in, to "see" the dog better in photos. If all people in the photo are looking at the dog then anyone looking at the photo, will be drawn to the dog as well and dog shows, after all, are about the dog. (All of this said even experienced handlers and judges have been known to watch a toy right there with the dog!)

Can the photographer ethically change the judge/or add one?

Well, I have added judges or moved dogs from one photo to another, I am not sure there is an "ethical" here question. Other than making sure the judge actually DID put the dog up. Truly, many judges have hit the point that they really prefer to NOT stand for pictures. I have heard rumors of one judge who does not want his image Photoshopped in, and when I work with that person, I honor their wishes. In general though, if the people are willing to pay the fee I will add a judge or swap the dog from another photo.

There are a couple of advantages to this, first, you can get the picture taken anytime the photographer, handler, and dog are available at the show. There is usually less rush, and less stress meaning the picture is sometimes easier to get, as everyone including the dog is more relaxed.  Also, if we took a photo and you are unhappy with it, the dog moved, hair was not combed correctly, etc. we can retake it and add the judge at home without bothering the judge for a second round of photos; as was very common (and annoying to judges) when digital cameras first began to come to dog shows. There is significant time involved doing it right, so MOST photographers do charge for the service. Fees will vary.

Is it okay to request that the photo be taken later at the podium?

Yes! Just realize that the podium is for group placements first, and then the class dogs, and that this is up to the judge. There are a couple of judges out there, that feel the podium is for "groups only" and do not take class pictures there no matter what. That is their right and prerogative. We usually have a photographer still set up at group time and they can go with you to get the photo taken in the ring. I have noticed that fewer judges feel this way. With the number of photographers that no longer work ring to ring, and instead require the photos at the podium, I suspect there will come a time that there are no longer any judges that have this 'requirement' for the podium. 

All of that said it is NOT okay to expect your photo before the group winners, even if you have waited longer or to expect the judge to leave his/her ring to go to the podium to get the photos at every break if it is set up prior to groups. There is a protocol for the podium and it is always wise to follow the lead of the judges and the photographer (often a photographer will know if a judge is willing and when, so ask us). There are times, even with Specialty photos (concurrent or afternoon/evening Specialties), the photographer will ask everyone to step aside to grab a couple group photos, then continue with the Specialty ones. This allows the show that is ongoing to not be interrupted. Also, the podium is intended for the group dogs and there was a time, not so long ago, where those were the only photos allowed on one. Although I have no problem taking anyone at the set up (podium and backdrop) we must honor these protocols. There is also the fact that if we get the group winners done and out of the way then we will have more time to get the 'perfect' photo of those Specialty dogs.

Finally, honestly the photos are much easier to process at home if all of them are taken in the same location and lighting, this is why so many photographers do not travel to you any longer in various locations around the country. However, I still find that the convenience of having a photographer come to them regularly throughout the day does make the judge more amenable to photos in general.

Have questions? Ask them! Follow us on Facebook for more information. Interested in having us photograph your show? Contact us at either location!  We have updated our website! See our calendar to know where we will be next!

Monday, January 20, 2020

What can I do as an exhibitor to help the photographer get that great picture? I get so nervous after a good win that it is hard for me to relax enough to make sure the dog is properly stacked etc. It must be that rush of adrenaline. Plus it always seems so rushed. -JO

It is an exciting time, the few minutes right after the win! A photo can seem rushed for sure, as there are usually 4 rings per photographer and with most superintendents, they all break around the same time.

First and easiest for you, is to make sure you are ready to go. Take a deep breath and relax!  The photos are truly the easiest part. Remember, the judge has signed the book and cannot "take it back."  Thank the judge on the way to the ramp, podium, table or mats for the photo. this gets everyone back into the excitement, but is still relaxing.. (helps you get your thoughts out of your own head).. remember, you did this already to win!  If you have a coated dog, bring someone to help brush/comb the dog out, and to make sure things are lying the way they should. Then look at the dogs "feet" make sure they are set fairly well there.. I will tell you what to fix for the picture.  

If for some reason you have not liked what you have received on a particular dog so far, then, let the photographer know what you haven’t liked in the past. "This dog pulls back at the last second" or "for some reason, even when we think the front is far enough under, it just does not seem to be in print" is much more informative and gives the photographer a starting point. “I need a nice one” or “I have never gotten one I like”  does not tell me what you have not liked or what you have noticed so far on this particular dog.  

Try and make sure your dogs are used to being hand stacked. It is important that they are used to having their feet touched, for something other than toenails and that they are used to being on tables/podiums etc. 

Sadly, photos ARE often rushed, the judge has a start time, and the photographer has more rings to get to in a small amount of time. Although we want nothing more than to get you the perfect picture, we have less than 30 seconds per to do that! Sometimes, waiting until the next break or even group times allows you to breathe and calm down, it is always an option to wait. You do not have to get it taken the end of the “hour” you are in, wait for the next break. Use that time and find the photographer, tell them you have had issues before, let them know what that issue is and what you hope to accomplish. If they have a podium and backdrop set up (often at the discretion of the club) and it is not in use, ask if you can stack the dog on the podium for practice. This will allow you to see if the dog is comfortable there and the photographer may even be able to help you more in the more relaxed period of time.  Talking to the photographer, will also give you an idea of timing. A photographer will often know when the judge took their last break, if they took pictures at that time, or if they are rushed, etc that day.

Finally, like so many things, practice makes perfect.  Setting dogs up in front of a mirror can tell you what you are doing/not doing that you should not/should be doing. Remember, cameras "flatten" the image I tell people, set the dog like you would to show them, it is my job to tell you what to fix for the photograph. I take my whippets at a slight slight 3/4 or 3/8th as they have really nice rears, but a solid profile leaves them looking "short coupled" and the slight angle removes that illusion. They are not short coupled, but the photo is a one dimensional image of a three dimensional reality so the depth of the image is changed giving that appearance without the angle.

Have questions? Ask them! Follow us on Facebook for more information. Interested in having us photograph your show? Contact us at either location!  We have updated our website! See our calendar to know where we will be next!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Exhibitor etiquette with photographers?-MH

I didn’t understand this question so I answered it many different ways, then I re-read it and least I answered the question in here too!

My etiquette, as a Photographer?
I must always ask for permission to enter the judges ring. I must be quick, and concise. I must NEVER put a judge behind, or in a "bad spot in anyway." It is helpful if I know which judges run behind or ahead. If they want to walk to a podium, or prefer to stay in the ring. I should be conscious of judges that are not feeling well, that need to get to lunch (first because it’s part of their pay, second because they deserve to eat, and finally, because some of them need to for health reasons!) I must also be conscious of the group order, who is judging what, and how far along the groups are.

Photographers etiquette to the club? 
Clubs hire us, but they do not pay us; the exhibitor does. Having said that, however, it's the judge that controls whether or not we are allowed in the ring. So we are between the club, and the judge who we must please first, then the exhibitor. Our responsibility to our clubs vary depending on the type of club. All breeds, our job is to be quick, never hold up a ring, or judge, to know where we are needed next, and to be on time!. Stay out of the superintendent’s way, and do our job without being noticed! If you notice the photographer, they have done something wrong. 

Specialties? Here it is more about the judges and exhibitors. The clubs might pay a small fee to help offset our costs, because, sadly, we truly do not make money at most specialties, even Nationals. IF we are lucky, we might break even at larger specialties. (Honestly, even all breeds under 700 dogs become “we are lucky to break even” events) We must be aware that at most specialties judges have been judging for anywhere from 2 to 8 hrs. They are tired, hungry, and probably need a "bathroom break". Standing for upwards of 3 hrs of photos is truly not the highlight of their day! (The longest stint of photos I have ever done, was a Whippet National where we took picture for 7 hours straight. We were still film then, it was a marathon after being there all day, to say the least!). So, the photographer must be ever aware of our judges needs, as we try to do the best we can, getting a win photo, what is normally a 30 second time frame. Making a judge angry means you get noticed and again, being noticed or a problem is not a good thing! 

Exhibitors etiquette to us, the photographer? 
Be on time at your ring (to show and to get your picture taken) and please realize the person carrying the camera is probably the photographer!! I hate to tell you how many times I am at a ring, chatting with the judge, no one is there; I go to the next ring, only to be called back, now you have to wait because I am already doing photos in that next ring. This also risks putting the judge behind which makes them want me to rush. It also moved the judge who should have been my "third stop" into fourth place though no fault of their own. Have your ribbons, brushes, combs ready, and know what you want on the sign (yes, it can be digitally changed but it shouldn’t have to be). Be ready to get this done! We all have less than 30 seconds to "make that perfect picture".

It is also helpful if your dog is trained. This means if it is a table dog it should be used to standing on a table. Free stacking breeds need to be used to hand stacking for the best possible photo. A judge can move to you, a camera can only do so much/go so far; especially at an outdoor show, where we are fighting sun, hills, and backgrounds. 

Remember, what you wear does matter! Black with that black dog? Usually not a good choice! Own a table breed and wearing a breed related top or tie? What do you think you will notice in that picture? The three-headed dog from that top or tie being melded into your dog! When the three dimensions of real life are transferred into a one dimensional image, it changes things!

Exhibitor etiquette to everyone?
Stand in line, politely, wait your turn, if you have more than one dog, and no one to help, get a pic done, then let someone else go, while you get your next dog, ribbons, grooming set up for the second. If you have help, and want to get them all done at the same time, have your help ready, with appropriate dog, and ribbons. Allow for all table dogs then all ground dogs (or vice versa) don’t expect the judge and photographer to move tables, signs, and setup tripods back and forth, it is time consuming, disjointed, and, by the last day, exhausting! 

Exhibitor etiquette to the judge? 
Be polite to the judge! He/she just put you up, AND let you in the ring on HIS/HER personal time for this photo! Remember that! This is their bathroom break, lunch break, check on spouse break, grab a snack and check sugar break, Blow one’s nose break, or even just sit a minute and get off their bad knees/feet/back break. Remember, most of our judges are aging just like us! They showed, or handled before becoming a judge! Breaks are sometimes a must! 

Realize, some judges have bad days, they hurt, they don't feel good, they were iffy when they left but did not want to put the club in a jam so came anyway only to get worse on the flight! I had a photo returned one time because the judge looked like "death." Well, hello!! They went to the hospital right after that round of photos! They felt like death!! 

Be polite in general. Treat others the way you wish to be treated and realize that we all have “jobs” to do on the day of the show. Please wait until I am out of a ring to ask questions, and if I say I have to get to another ring understand I am trying to make sure everyone gets the best photo possible in the time allowed by making sure there is time allowed! 

Have questions? Ask them Follow us on Facebook for more information Interested in having us photograph your show? Contact us at either location!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

“What is the best stack for each breed? And why are they stacked a certain way?” -MH

This is a “there is a general rule and then there are the exceptions” kind of question. Most breeds are at a slight angle (we joke and call it a ⅞ on occasion) so you have an overall look at the dog, all four legs, both eyes, both ears and the tail are all visible. Having the ears alert and mouth shut are also common. Small dogs on a table or ramp allows the photo to center on the dog, when you put a small dog on the ground and then stand you are going to have a hard time with this and many of our older judges cannot kneel beside you. Large dogs can be shot on the podium at the back drop but the largest should not be as it often is too short for a Great Dane or Mastiff to stretch out properly.

Now for the exceptions, and the why for each:

Three breeds are “three legged stools.” The Pug, French Bulldog and Bulldog They should show two front legs, and the camera side rear. The camera side front should "hide" the exhibitor side rear. These are small “head breeds” and this has become the standard format to exhibit this.

The German Shepherd prefers full profile or slight profile with off camera (handler) side rear leg flat to the ground.

Doberman Pinschers and Great Danes prefer a full profile, this gives the appearance of one ear, one eye, two legs and tail. Much of this preference was set in the 1980’s by specific dogs.

There are many breeds that need a strong 3/4. Most of these are seen as the larger head breeds but, unlike the smaller dogs mentioned earlier, all 4 legs/feet should be visible. Bull Mastiffs, Mastiffs, St. Bernards, American Staffordshire Terriers (and other “bully” terriers), Collies, Belgians, etc.

Ears and Mouths are again general, Ears “up” and mouths closed is the preference over all but some breeds or “groups” of breeds prefer different looks. Setters, Spaniels, and Scent hounds are generally ears down. There are exceptions to every rule! Some Clumber Spaniels prefer ears up, Dachshunds should have their ears up certain sighthounds (Borzoi, Irish Wolfhounds, and Scottish Deerhounds) prefer ears down for various reasons. Great Pyrenese, Bulldogs, and Old English Sheepdogs are all also breeds that tend to prefer ears down on their dogs (my sister used to chant Pyrs no ears when going into photograph them to remember not to throw a toy).  Mouths shut is at around 90% German Shepherds, many of the Belgian breeds, Keeshonden, and Samoyeds prefer the mouth open for a “smile” or to give a more massive muzzle look to the dog.

All of this is subjective and should be open to adjustment for your dog. Does your whippet have a bad ear set? Or even “coursing” ears when that toy flies? Tell the photographer no ears! Want the mouth shut on your bulldog or want to show off your dog has correct ears? Ask for it! On hot days sometimes we aren’t going to get the mouth shut. There are days at outdoor shows it seems the only dogs I can get to shut their mouths are the ones who shouldn't!

No dog is perfect. Want to make it a little closer to that though for the photo? Consider changing up what is normal! Your dog is usually a profile breed, but your dog is long or even short? Add some angle, it will give the appearance that the length is from the angle. Soft rear? Angle, strong front? Angle. The pics you are getting not to your liking? Flip the usual and go the opposite of usual. Even try backwards if your markings call for it!

So, breed determines the "standard" way it is done, but each dog should be taken to its advantage. Don’t get stuck in “this is the way it should be done;” but listen to your photographer because they are at the camera and the professional! I have over 35 years breeding, showing and photographing dogs. I promise you I want to take the best photo of your dog possible in the time available! 

Have questions? Ask them Follow us on Facebook for more information Interested in having us photograph your show? Contact us at either location!

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