Monday, February 3, 2020

Short Answers Part Two

We are in the middle of posts that are 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!

Is it okay for the exhibitor to ask for help from the photographer?

I would love to pretend this one confuses me. It is my job to help you, you shouldn't have to ask. However, I know that what is expected from photos and photographers has changed so much, that people are not longer looking for a nice photo to record their dogs win. they are now looking for the "perfect portrait" of their dog and themselves. I also know, that many photographers do not, never have, or no longer tell exhibitors what to fix, or what looks "off." This baffles me, as I grew up with photographers in our sport that ALWAYS told you what to fix, or what needed doing. I was TRAINED by photographers that did, and do, the same. So, although I am often frustrated when exhibitors do not do as I ask, or when they bring a "committee" to help them, I do understand it. 

When an exhibitor tells me they "have never gotten a photo they like" I will usually ask what they have not liked. If they have an answer, then we will work to fix those issues. If they do not have an answer; honestly, the answer is usually in the behavior of the dog or the handler. It is difficult to get a picture you like, if you will not do as asked by the photographer, or if the dog is unmanageable for the photo. What do I mean by this? If I ask you to bring the front underneath your dog, do not then immediately re-stack the rear. If your dog doesn't allow itself to be hand stacked, I am unable to help you fix it's stack or often even the angle it is at and there is really only time for so many circles around to allow him to self stack again. If the dog is so intent on bait that he only looks at you I will not be able to get his head in the correct position with a toy. I will help you as much as I can in the time allowed for the photo by the judge, scheduling and other dogs needing their photo. Please listen carefully and if you need further help ask during breaks!

Are there any secrets to getting a dog to close it's mouth?

First, does this breed really HAVE to close their mouth for the pictures??  Second, is it a miserably hot day out?  
If you really want the mouth closed, then the easy answer is to let the dog cool off, take it back to the set up, put a fan on them. Let them stand on a cool towel. Dogs only have a couple ways to cool off and one is thru panting. So if the dog is panting, and is warm, cooling it off is the easiest answer.
If the dog is panting thru nerves, that of course is a different matter and we can work on it, but only the dog relaxing can truly "fix" it.
For dogs that MUST have their mouths closed for photos, there are a couple ways to close the mouth on a dog who is panting:

  1. throwing a toy, distraction when a dog is "at attention" they tend to not pant,
  2. baiting, most dogs are trained to bait with their mouths shut, so someone who knows how to bait a dog (outside of the frame) can help close the dogs mouth;
  3. touching the back of the dogs tongue will usually close the dogs mouth long enough to get the photo (there is some dexterity and luck in doing this and getting your hand back in position/the dog's mouth shut at the same time);
  4. a spray bottle with a lemon or lime/water mixture will close a dogs mouth, and if you actually practice this, (there is that practice word again) then just having someone hold the spray bottle (out of frame) is sometimes enough; and
  5. some dogs, if trained (I know there it is again) you can just "tap" or "pop" the lead at the right time, and they will close their mouth for the time needed to get that picture.
These are little tricks of the trade; however, remember if the day is miserably hot, or the photo is in direct sun and the dog is dark, or if the dog is overly nervous, or stressed, there may be nothing anyone can do to close their mouth. Our job with the photo is to get the best representation of the dog we can ON THAT DAY, so, nervous or hot dogs, or rain, so the dog is wet. That is what he looked like that day. Sometimes, it just is what it is. 

Do photographers Photoshop dogs upon request?

This is a tricky one for me. Yes, many photographers retouch dogs. Some do it upon request, some do it to all of their photos. Some will fix top lines, or move fronts back underneath a dog. They do whatever they think they need to do to sell their photo. We are in this to make money and that is technically our job.

However, and I cannot say this strongly enough, I WILL NOT PHOTOSHOP A DOG, not to sell a photo, not to please the exhibitor, for no reason will i change the dog. PERIOD!  It is to me, unethical.

I will retake the photo, I will take one you like and replace the one you do not (you like the breed shot, but not the group placement?  I will swap the dogs out.) I will change your head from one to the other, I will add a judge, or move the judge. I will not fix your dogs top line, I will not move the front back, I will not "take that dip out," I will not un-flatten a foot. I was raised in this, I still breed dogs, and for me it is a line I will not cross!  Think of it this way if a photographer is taking money to make your dog look better what is stopping them from taking it to make your dog look worse?

Also, I doubt most realize how much Photoshop has been done on your image by some photographers out there. The photographer you think is so "nonchalant" in the ring, but always seems to "get the shot somehow?" The somehow is most likely Photoshop. I have received these images as an exhibitor and have always requested un-retouched when it was obvious.

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!

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