'Twas a big day yesterday.
I had the privilege to be a pinch hitter for my sister Jill -- who's a very talented photog up in Tofino, BC -- and help out with a palliative session for her friend. One of her two beautiful rescue doggos isn't well and has been going through tests and treatments at a local vet clinic, but there's not much more medicine can do so it's now about enjoying what's left.
Of course I accepted... how could I not?
It was very last minute, but that's how these are sometimes. So much unknown can make planning hard, but when it needs to work out, it does. We met at a local beach, but with strong winds and pouring rain, it just wasn't going to work. So we took a little drive to find some shelter and hoped that the weather would give us a break... and it did. Two dogs, two humans and one photog (me) found a window of space and time amidst a rain and windstorm where sun shone through the trees onto a magical rock covered with moss under trees covered with lichen.
Thank you L, P, K + J.
UPDATE: December 14/21: I just found out lovely, little Lily passed away. Much love to her humans for rescuing her and giving her a life of unconditional love.
A few hours later I was off to photograph 3 dogs. These would be former sled dogs coming into care of a local rescue. Three more dogs who were now going to be covered until animal protection laws. Bamboo, Meso and Saturn are #s 206, 207 + 208 in my decade-long project advocating for the adoption of former sled dogs. But numbers aside, they were beautiful beings, understandably nervous of all the newness in one day, but whose lives are going to change for the better with the love, care and support of a huge community.
I'm no stranger to photographing dogs who aren't feeling well - both mentally and physically. I think most of my work follows that commonality. I try to branch out, but I'm always drawn back to them. "Them" being those who've been discarded, left behind... utterly in need of help. And this year, well I just realized that the bookends of my work this year have been palliative pup sessions - as well as one in the middle too. So when I think back over the year, along with the last 10+ too, it becomes more clear, that this is me. My place. I want to be that person who can be there with a camera, capturing moments that may be otherwise unseen. Being a part of that sadness while being able to see some joy in the memories that are created. To take that pause and hold that space in time. It may take a bit to understand it all, but having lost one of our dogs this summer - not unexpected, but more quickly than expected - I wished I'd had someone there near the end, capturing our little Bella Boo surrounded by us and our love for her.
It was almost a year ago when I reached out to Mel and the Victoria Bulldog Society (VBS) to see if they'd be interested in participating in a piece for Wunderdog Magazine. They said yes, so we met up a couple times (in December 2020 & January 2021) for some photos and chats. I've known Mel for years, but this gave me the chance to really hear what her day-to-days are like running a rescue from her home. The piece made it into Issue #5 and is keeping company with the likes of Nowzad Rescue, Wuhan Rescue and sooooo many other like-minded people around the world who are doing their best to help dogs.
Thanks to Tonic for being the star of the piece and to Gerty and Tanker (RIP) for letting me photograph them for this piece.
VBS going global!
You can get a copy of the magazine through Wunderdog Magazine's website as well as Barnes & Noble stores (in the US only).
Since this piece, VBS has taken in so many more bulldogs and they could really use your help! To see what they're up to and to donate, visit them on social media (their website is under construction):
Here are some photos that didn't make it into the piece.
I bought a new camera last week, then returned it the next day because the lens stopped working.
It was smaller and lighter and meant to be easier on my body - the days of lugging heavy cameras and lenses around are numbered for me sadly.
Long story short, I decided not to get a replacement, but now I'm second guessing that decision. It ticked a lot of boxes on my wishlist, but it's kind of taking a step backwards in the gear world in some respects. And I didn't fall in love with it when I took that first image like I've done when pressing that shutter release for the first time on my other cameras.
As well as the camera tech stuff I take into account when photographing, there's also a connected feeling I get. It may be a wee bit different, depending on which camera I use, but it's always there, no matter what camera I'm using. I didn't feel it during that short visit and I questioned if it will ever come?
I know photography isn't just about the camera -- there's knowledge of the gear, the gear itself (camera bodies, lenses, filters), the human behind the lens, their unique perspective to their subject, post processing, etc. - reminding me of a story:
"a photographer goes to a friend's house for dinner and the host says 'you're a wonderful photographer, you must have a fantastic camera!'. At the end of the meal, the photographer says to the host 'what a wonderful meal, you must have a fantastic stove'!"
For now I'm mired in indecision so am sharing some of my test images, to "put them out there and add them into my work" to see if that changes anything for me. Some of the images have had post processing, some not.
Thanks for looking!
Moro + Saru on film
Thetis Lake, 2014.
After many years, I’ve finally confirmed who this dog is and who his human is (thanks M!) and sent it to them outta the blue because I know I’d wanna see other people’s of my dogs. Moro’s mom said it made her day, so yay!
So just to clarify, if anyone has of my dogs, I wanna see them!
More from this outing HERE!
A few weeks ago I got to meet Pow Pow.
The opportunity came from an old friend, who wanted to gift his humans with something to celebrate him, as Pow Pow wasn't well.
For dogs like Pow Pow that have been through the shelter system, re-homed, given away, discarded - I want to make sure they get to take up space in this world. I want to share their stories, their names and some photographs that give a glimpse into a moment of their life. If they were forgotten about at one time, I want to do my part to make sure they won't be again. And part of that storytelling is providing the photos in a digital monograph format so families can scroll through images in a way that helps tell the story of their pet, as I saw them.
For Pow Pow, this was him on April 15, 2021. Whatever health issues he was fighting, he had this evening to show me a part of him. He shared with me his silly, fun, inquisitive side. How he loves rolling on his back in the grass - sometimes with his frisbee in his mouth. Sniffing the ocean air. Chasing sticks into the water - and not bringing them back. Barking for treats. And moments of quiet and rest in the shade from the sun of the warm spring day.
Here are some of those moments... of how I saw Pow Pow and his family.
Thanks to his friends (M+L) for providing me with the chance to meet this special guy, and to his family (L + P) for taking such amazing care, catering to all his whims and fancies and showing him true love, during this difficult time.
Meet Massa, the bulldog with two perfect bottom teeth.
Apparently they're the only thing that won’t need vet intervention at this time. Actually, her teeth and her weight. Massa has a great body shape and is a comfortable 69lbs.
Sweet Massa had been living tied up outside until recently and if you know my advocacy work for sled dogs, you’ll know how I feel about this. (if you don’t, I invite you to visit www.iwasasleddog.com)
Massa is now in the care of the Victoria Bulldog Society (VBS) and being treated for ear and skin infections. She's also getting much-needed cartrophen injections and will be getting some big work soon - entropion surgery for both eyes as well as two surgeries for two torn knees.
This gal has a bit of a road ahead over her.
When I met her today, I can tell you is that she is an absolute doll! She came right up to get a sniff, taking no issue with meeting me as a stranger. She also gave me some some bum wiggles because she was loving the bum scratches I was giving her. Our visit was short, but sweet and she had no fear of my camera (good thing because she's very photogenic!) and she showed off her adorable little ears by perking them up when I said her name - which is new to her - she's learning fast!
Thank you VBS for taking her in and helping her on her road to recovery. Once her medical issues are under control she’ll be available for adoption and no doubt, will find her spot on the couch of her new home... and never leave it.
VBS is currently fundraising to help with her medical care so if you have a moment, check out more about this girl as well updates on the great work of VBS at: www.facebook.com/VictoriaBulldogSociety
For the group photo below, the dogs sorted themselves out smallest to largest - Gerty, Tonic, Massa - or for you coffee drinkers “tall, grande, venti” .
Tonic is also featured in posts from December 12, 2020, and both Tonic and Gerty in January 2021 as well as the video "goobers, never-ending goobers" that I posted in February 2021.
And if you’re thinking ‘one of these dogs is not like the others’, that’s Harley. He and Gerty are permanent family members.
Please click on each photo to see its full size.
It was my birthday yesterday which means even more reminiscing than usual.
So as I was going through some folders on my computer I came across this photograph.
I learned photography on a film camera back in high school. it was a Minolta that I'd bought from my next door neighbour when I was 17 and it cost me $75. Interestingly it re-sells for more than that these days.
I used it a lot - even taking it to New York when I was in grade 12 - but these days it does a lot of sitting around. The work I've been doing requires an element of immediacy - or at least longer than it would take for me to get film developed, choose prints, get prints developed. There's an expectation when you're photographing on a job vs. shooting for yourself.
I've been missing those 'happy accidents' that would turn up sometimes on film.
This is one of them - a double exposure of my grape vine and dog Suzy in my backyard on June 19, 2013. It's one of 2 double exposures that were on this roll of film and I just love them.
This magical being is Pumpkin. 🎃
He was a sled dog who worked in Whistler, BC up until recently.
If I didn’t tell you he was a former sled dog, would you have believed me?
That slim build, that short coat.
Pumpkin is one of 192 former sled dogs I’ve photographed over the past decade.
Head on over to www.iwasasleddog.com for more pics and stories.
Thanks to @victoriahumanesociety for taking him in and ensuring he gets the care he needs.