This image was based more on the prop than the dog – as most of my images are.
For this photo, I wanted 1960’s era red truck in mint condition. I looked all over and, while searching the web, I came across a forum where someone mentioned this truck on a certain corner in Queens, NY. I Google-mapped the street corner, drove to Queens (about an hour and a half away from home) and hit the pavement to find it. I found the truck and a sign with a phone number so I placed a call, offered the owner some cash for his truck to “model” for me and got the shot.
I had this concept of a pair of water-loving dogs, paddling downstream in a vintage wooden canoe in pursuit of a prized tennis ball. The hardest part of this image was finding the ideal canoe. I am a stickler for the perfect prop and was having a really hard time finding the right canoe - so I made one. Actually, I made just the front half of the canoe since it was faster to make (and easier for my poor assistant, who sat in a cold stream, to manage).
As for casting, I wanted labs. Labs to me are an iconic dog for photos because of their happy nature, boundless energy and constantly wagging tails. They seem always up for an adventure and I liked the connotation of having a black and yellow lab as partners.
This image actually started it’s own series within my Loose Leashes line. We did a tongue and cheek nod to adventurers, naming them Lewie & Clark and I continued to add more pictures to their collection.
The picture that started it all. My lab, Indy, starred in my annual holiday card to my commercial clients and the crowd went wild!
This image involved a cast of many, from the ballet dancer we hired to pose for the paper, to a friend who let us shoot in his vintage barbershop, to my wife who wrote actual dog-centric articles for my fake newspaper (using family and friends names for fodder). Oh, and one straight faced Boston Terrier.
I always want my images to tell a story. The concept and story behind this photo just cracked me up. I was so glad that what I had in my head translated perfectly into the final image.
We live close to New Hampshire's Lake Region so I thought for sure that a day trip around one of their largest lakes (Winnepesuake) would score me what I needed - a few pictures of an old school wooden floating dock. No such luck. Almost of all of the floating docks now are made from plastic composite or in private owner's yards. However, I did score some nice nature pictures of a baby black bear that showed up while standing lakeside in a state park (I didn't stick around to see if Mama was near).
I finally resorted to scouring vacation lake home listings to see if anyone mentioned or had pictures of one. I struck gold in Sweden, Maine with one perfectly situated on this small, pretty lake.
This was taken at sundown...and there was not a bear in sight.
The countercultural notion of a dog dressing as it’s arch enemy can be host to a bunch of different interpretations. Cat burglar? Cat napper? Catman? All of the above!
The original concept for this was to be a dog looking up at a signing bird on a wire but when I went to shoot the elements, it was fall and the location had this gorgeous tree.
The lab we casted for this shoot was such a good boy and had incredible focus for a 4 month old puppy. He captured the moment and concept perfectly - to always keep your head up - no matter what may fall.
The battle in this was casting. I needed a bunch of tough looking dogs that could play the role of a roughneck gridiron team. I wanted to cover all of the positions from the Newfie playing offensive lineman, to the Whippet as the fleet-footed wide receiver. I even included a flashy, blue chip running back with the Rotwieler by leaving his "bling" around his neck. Of course, my dog is in it too - #1, the quaterback.
Did we put a dog in snowsuit? No - that would be insane. It does look like we did though and that is what is most important. I want my images to be believable but never want to make my model uncomfortable.
The trick to this was a life-sized lab wood cutout that I fabricated and one amazing seamstress. This image has been unofficially called “Santa Paws” by many young fans, but in my mind, it’s “Fargo” – a lab in search of a hydrant on a blistering cold day.
I love an old dog and I wanted to capture that feeling of pure pooped out. The picture tells that story.
Key to this image was finding a flower and a dog that matched. I wanted the dog to blend and look like it was hiding in the scene. The flower head that matched best was the hydrangea so I took a little poetic license by taking something that typically grows on a bush and sticking it in a window box.
As with all of my images, we name them. This one is Posy, The Wallflower.
The inspiration for this image, another in my Lewie & Clark collection, was the vintage RV.
I am always a fan of the vintage look and want my images to portray that quality when possible. I researched Airstream Clubs throughout the eastern seaboard and found this amazing RV in Upstate state New York. The owner had such an incredible passion for Airstreams that he agreed to let me shoot his so it would be immortalized in a photo.
I drove to the owner's working farm, which was simply beautiful. He tractored the trailer to an ideal location that I had scouted, we waited for sunset and got to work.
Imagine 6 Boston Terriers, blocks of cheese smeared on glass to lure the pups to lick the window and an assistant who was allergic to dogs. Yeah - that was some crazy shoot but it worked out perfectly.
I license many of my images from my Loose Leashes line for use on stationary, calendars, wall-decor and publishing. I currently work with Hallmark's Sunrise Greetings line for greeting cards and created this holiday scene for Lewie & Clark, who are in awe of the "star" on the top of the tree.
Tiger came from a book idea that we were playing around with about chew toys. What is considered a toy? What becomes a toy and what’s off limits?
In this scene, the Boston comes across a forbidden zone of well loved stuffed animals. I liked the idea of a gang of stuffed cats alert and ready to pounce. It makes the viewer wonder who is the predator, who is the prey and what's next?!
The old metal quarter rides that were found outside grocery stores are iconic to me. If I had the space, I would collect them. Finding them is hard and finding one in a specific shape (like a rocketship) is even harder. With a little MDF, black pipe, automobile gaskets, grease boots and some computer rendering I was able to create my ideal quarter-ride.
I wanted to capture the pure excitement that’s on a kid’s face when they are on one of these rides. I think this lab’s expression says it all. Now, if only he had a quarter….
While planning this image, I saw the most amazing cakes at Magnolia Bakery in New York City. We were not going to be able get a cake back to the studio intact for the shoot so we did the only thing we could think of - we hunted down the recipe and recreated it.
We actually made two cakes – one vanilla and one chocolate. The chocolate one won because it worked better with the concept: “When there is something you absolutely can’t have, you want it more!”
My goal was to capture what we think our dogs are doing when we are away – eagerly waiting for us to return.
I created this from a sketch I drew of a lab in a birdbath - which doesn't seem too silly a notion since labs love water...any kind of water.
I located a beautiful garden where we were able to move the birdbath into this lush spot. With a hose, 3 lab puppy models and a little magic - voilà - an instant outside spa fit for a dog.
Originally, this picture was going be of a dog lapping up his owner’s lemonade on a hot summer’s day. I decided to take it to a more personal level – with the dog preparing his own cold drink, complete with accoutrements.
This golden was such a great model…he literally worked for meatballs!
Living near a school, I often get to see kids in the back of bus windows. Someone is usually making a face, waving or instigating the group around them. It seems like the back of the bus is where all of the mischief happens!
With that, I had this concept of a pack of troublemakers being whisked away to be reformed. I had a clear vision of a school bus pulling away - almost as the last scene of a show or movie.
My favorite part of this photo are the shapes I drew in the dirty windows that convey each dog’s inner personality – including an angel that lost its way.
We shot this on location at a great park in central NJ that I’ve used often for shoots. We didn’t have running water at the park so I shot the water element separately. Through the magic of computers, I cut out the water drop by drop and placed it into the final image (although I think this hot dog would have appreciated a sprinkler that day).
In this image, I hoped to convey what happened prior to the picture being snapped. You can see the mud line on both dogs and viewers (especially kids) have all kinds of takes on how they got muddy. That is one thing that I love about the photos I create – they can tell a story or create a story.
From my idea book came another Lewie & Clark image about their on-going search for the illusive tennis ball. I started brainstorming ways that would prevent a dog from retrieving a ball and imagined this high fence with the ball on the other side.
With concept in place, I started building sections of fence in all different sizes and colors and decided on a blue fence that looked like it could have come from town ballpark. We wanted to make the dogs exude jubilation at finding the ball so we used treats, lots of treats, to capture that expression.
When I originally conceived this image - I envisioned something like an old fashion doorknocker - the large lion’s head and brass ring but with a dog’s head instead. As for something round, I thought a powdered doughnut would be interesting and what better contrast to a powdered doughnut than a black dog. And yes, many doughnuts were eaten that day!
I love the wrapper of a cupcake – the crumbs that stick to it and the challenge of not eating it just to get every last morsel. You could say this image is me, as a child, as a dog.
Labs feet are already webbed and I exaggerated that effect by adding swim fins. From above, the black dog and the black fins almost create the image of a four legged seal…the ultimate water dog. The name of the print, Jacque, is after one of the seas’ greatest fans – Jacque Cousteau.