My photography started as a way to capture some of the locations I visited on roadtrips. I was inspired by photographic artists like Thomas Mangelsen, he photographs animals and landscapes in their natural environment. When I would look at his photography, I would start to learn composition and lighting. I started to learn photography by trial and error. I bought my very first camera and quickly had to upgrade. My first photos were terrible, images taken of a ghost town in Nevada. I then started taking roadtrips to national parks, and attempting to photograph wildlife. I have photographs of hummingbirds, bison, bighorn sheep and a few bears. I would also photograph landscapes at sunrise or sunset.
I started to learn more about lighting and the golden hours for photography. I had my photographs entered into contests and sold some limited edition prints. I started to learn studio lighting from a friend. I spent all of my free time learning retouching and portrait studio lighting. One day I was photographing someone and they said can we add my dog into the photo? I have always loved animals and I thought YES of course. So this seemed like the best way to combine my love of animals and photography. It's a lot easier to photograph domesticated pets than a wild deer.
I realized that pet photography was something that just came natural for me. I often have to remember to greet the humans when I meet a new person. I wanted to read a bit more about animal behavior and I did some research on dog training. This would be the building blocks for me to capture wonderful portraits of family pets. Dogs are currently the family pet that I photograph the most. I have photographed hundreds of dogs over the years. I am able to quickly get the dogs attention to the camera. I prefer the dog to have attention towards the camera unless he is chasing a ball or toy.
Pet Photography takes a lot of patience and animal behavior knowledge. I also have a love for all animals so that helps with getting great photos. I often donate Bark sessions, and my time to various animal rescues in Las Vegas. When photographing rescues I am trying to get as many done as possible. So my knowledge of pet behavior helps with getting the shots needed for advertising the available pets. Rescue portraits is also a time for me to try a few ideas.
I started photographing a lot of pets in natural settings. I started with action photos of dogs running at a local park. I started thinking of other scenic locations in the Las Vegas area, Red Rock Canyon came to mind. I started scouting locations out there, I listed it as one of my favorite places to photograph pets (Favorite Locations for photographing Pets). It's a personal choice if you like the scenic photos with a beautiful background, or a nice clean studio portrait. Some people choose two sessions, outdoor and indoor.
The one consistent thing with pet photography is it's always new, engaging, and always different. Every time I meet a new dog, cat, or other family pet, I have to quickly socialize with them to be able to engage them. This process is really a lot of fun. Dogs are usually the best greeters as they are excited for people to come over (maybe they sense the squeakers and smell of treats?). When I do studio to you sessions the dogs get some time to investigate me, and my photo equipment. This makes the process for me a lot easier as they are more comfortable and curious about looking towards the camera.
Rick Vierkandt- Bark Gallery