Dog Photography Blog

Dogs & 4th of July – safety & tips

We have entered July with the 4th landing tomorrow! Happy birthday USA!

Now there are definitely loads of things that surround the 4th – barbecues, pools, guests, and those booming fireworks from small to big. And we want your dog to stay safe throughout it all. 

Dogs & 4th of July tips:

  •  Guests
    OMG how exciting that the friend of the friend of the friend is coming over! You may have not seen a plethora of your friends and haven’t had them all over to your house at once in ages, but don’t forget your dog may not have met all of them or may become overwhelmed by all the new people and smells entering your house. Keep excitable pups on leash, allowing them to greet guests when they present a calmness that will keep their paws on the floor. Provide a quiet place for your dog to retire to if they need a break be it a crate or a separate room. Treats will help reward good behaviors (your guests can hand them out too!) and a bone, Kong, or special chew toy is a great way to keep your dog busy as guests mingle. 

  • Barbecues
    Tasty meats in a delightful row upon the grill… mmmm! Make sure your dog stays out from under foot and doesn’t interact with the grill (we don’t want burned noses or paws). Those tasty foods smell good to us and they smell a bazillion times more tasty to our dogs. Sharing them is ok in moderation but avoid giving your pup any bones. Avoid passing them anything with a spicy sauce or rub, anything too fatty, and definitely no onions! If there are ample handouts, you may want to consider cutting some of your dog’s food down so they don’t overeat. Also be aware that some of these treats may cause upset in your dog’s tummy and cause soft to runny poops. (If these persist longer than a day afterwards, consult your vet.)

  • Pools
    Although we haven’t entertained “classic” hot summer temps yet (and it may rain tomorrow) pools are still a lovely place to dip your toes, swim or float to pass the lazy days. Include your dog as you see fit – ALWAYS with supervision! Make sure there is a way for your pup to exit the pool (wet dogs are infinitely heavier than when they are dry – keep that in mind if you are planning on lifting them out of the pool). Moderate the amount of time they spend swimming giving them breaks to get drinks and have a break from the water workout. After pool time has wrapped up, give your dog a solid washing to remove any pool chemicals from their fur and to avoid any irritations. 

  • Fireworks
    Delightful explosions in the sky in various colors and sizes. We as humans are enthralled by them, dogs not as much. If it is the first time for fireworks with your dog (new puppy, newly adopted dog), stay home. If you live in town and are in range of the big fireworks, you can see how your puppy or dog does with the booms. No fussing, no stress? Enjoy the fireworks from your yard (or at least the sounds). Next year consider a less congested park or a friend’s house where you can see the fireworks but aren’t surrounded by crowds of people without an out in case things get scary. 

    If your dog is stressed out by the fireworks – shaking, panting, cowering, anxious – you may want to consider making your home environment as quiet and stress free as possible. A movie, popcorn to share, blankets to wrap your pup and help muffle sounds. If that doesn’t work, consider loading your pup for an evening drive out of town. Bring a flashlight, some bug spray and hang out watching the stars. If you head to a park, make sure you’re allowed to be there as many parks close at dusk or 10pm.  Most firework shows are 20-30 minutes and once wrapped the evening should calm. 

    Or head to your parents’ house in the boonies, the cabin up by the lake, or a mini vacation away from civilization for a day or two with ample exploring for the day to give your dog a break from the fireworks. You’ll know what is best for your dog. 

These tips will help you and your dog have a safe and fun time while celebrating the USA! Happy 4th of July from Blue, Kris, Kellen & myself! 

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Adoptable dogs at Tri County Humane Society – St. Cloud MN

Every Tuesday I volunteer at Tri County Humane Society in St. Cloud MN. We are on week 39 for photographing adoptable dogs & cats! There has only been a couple days missed – once for Shutterhound in Las Vegas, once for mega cold weather, once for a snowstorm and twice due to rain! 

Yesterday’s weather was balmy, pushing into hot by 11 am. I photograph the dogs first, then move into the lovely cat room to capture kitties in their cage. 

First up was Reggie, an exuberant but sweet lab mix. He arrived to TCHS as a stray, which means he doesn’t have a history. But he’d be a lovely companion to write a story with! He was gentle taking treats and knew how to sit. Head to TCHS to meet him today!

Next on the list was Dominic. He is a leggy mix (my guess is shepherd mix – he’s listed as a hound mix) who is energetic, a bit bossy with treats, and noisy as he searches out the perfect place to pee. And watch your fingers! He is quite food motivated and will snatch treats and if in the way, fingers too! Requests for a sit didn’t yield any results, but I was able to lure him into various spots with food so he should easily hone in the basics as long as there are tasty treats involved. He’s been at TCHS a decent amount of time, let us help him find a new home!

Heading down the list, and tucked in the first kennel of Kennel Room 1 is Cinnamon. She is a sensitive, shy and slightly anxious dog so move slowly with her. She sports stunning black & tan markings, a thick double coat, a brushy tail and medium height. A lovely compact companion! She did sit when asked, though she likes to be VERY close to her person. Some whining & pacing too, a lot going on and stressing her out (I’d be stressed out loosing my home & being transferred to another facility!). Confidence building, loads of reassurance and love will bring this lovely lady out of her shell. 

EEEEEEEK! Puppy time! Up next was Boss, a pup of the lovely Cinnamon! He’s got her black & tan markings, though he inherited a different coat texture and ears! He is sweet, a little shy and liked to carry his leash about. At this time he does have a deposit on him which means you can’t snag him today (shucks!) but there is always a chance that deposits expire. Plus there are plenty of other pups to pick from (there’s a giant pack of pups with G names available too!)

Next up, the trio of Great Pyrenees puppies – Scapula, Mandible & Malleus. You’ll find them in the last kennel of Kennel Room 3. These wee fluffers are 4 months old and will have a fair amount of growing to do (they most likely will double in height & weight!). First up was Scapula, the only female of the trio. She refused to walk on the leash & floor so I hoisted her into my arms and brought her out to play yard. Outside she was bouncy, interactive and playful, though she spent most of the time walking the perimeter of the play yard taking in the smells. I had to carry that little booger back inside too!

Next was her brother in the green collar, Mandible. Out of the 3 pups, he was the purest white with no shading or brindling on his face. He was sweet and shy, less energetic than his sister and the smallest of the three. Yes I had to carry him outside and back inside too!

Whew! Now I’m rather warm, the temp is warm and I’ve collectively carried 72 pounds out of the kennel, through the hall, out the door, down to the play yard and back. Who needs a gym day? Hahaha!

Last, and not least, the other brother in the blue collar Malleus. Same as his brother & sister he required a carrying out of the kennel room to the play yard & back. Out of the trio he felt like he weighed the most and was biggest in my arms. He was bouncy, a little less energetic than his sister and a bit less shy than his brother, though every time I approached he laid down. He also has an adorable whip tail that was less full than his siblings. 

His weight topped me out to 110 lbs collectively carried in & out of TCHS. Man my legs will be ripped hahaha!!

Last for the dogs was Bear the brown pittie type dog. I borrowed an extra set of hands as Bear has a knack for being a little weird in his kennel. The weird goes like this: bark & growl (as in back off) to whines & softer barks with ample lip licking. It could be from being in the kennel (and next to Dominic the barker) because out of the kennel he was calmer, tail wagging and quite interested in the other dogs, less in treats. He does pull to get where he wants to go and is quite strong. It seems per his bio on TCHS that he enjoys fetch, tug of war and lounging by the TV. He probably has the energy level to even be a running partner. 

All of these dogs are available at Tri County Humane Society in St. Cloud MN as of this posting (Wednesday June 5, 2024). Stop in to meet these dogs, adopt one, or consider volunteering or fostering! 

Honorable mention: Pokey

This big dude rocking a lovely tri color pattern would be a great addition into your family if you enjoy leisurely strolls, sniffing all the things and taking your time to get there. Pokey def fit his name when I photographed him on May 14th. He didn’t sit when I requested it (an easy skill to learn) but I could get his focus with tasty treats. And he had some impressive drool too! Not sure his mix, but he gives me Swissy vibes mixed with something else, perhaps pittie. If you adopt him, DNA test him to see what kind of magical mix he is. This big, sweet dude needs a lovely new home where he can smell the smells and lounge for the day. 

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Revamping & Pivoting – dog photography things for 2024

Egads, the last blog post was from Easter!

The weather warmed, the garden called. Happy plant shopping, adding diversity to gardens, digging up grass to add more gardens and chasing Blue out of them. His thoughts on gardening is trampling plants, peeing on plants, and digging a giant hole that relocates flowers. Quite helpful… 

Otherwise, the spring has held movements into pickleball and disc golf, an obsessive jaunt into finding & “clipping” vintage ice cream & sherbet recipes (it is a future cook book endeavor, there is plans on a doughnut one as well) as well as a solid batch of sewing for Atomic Collars while also creating medieval inspired collars (if you’re going to Ren Fest you need one!). 

And yes I’m still volunteering my photography skills at Tri County Humane Society every Tuesday! 


Though each of these busy things tended to keep me from blogging, marketing, taking pictures of Blue, and keeping About A Dog afloat. Which means I need to do things differently to serve you better. And do things differently so About A Dog lives into the future!

Which lands us at the revamp and pivot. 

What’s to come / be changed: 

  • less session options to pick from – now only Digital Dog Session & Teenie Weenie
    • Puppy Series Sessions on request (I am looking for puppy models!)
    • Teenie Weenie sessions are still limited edition events (they can’t be booked as a single session) but now are going to be located throughout the outdoors during the nice weather season. Locations will vary, stay in the bark for upcoming details for a summer set and when the fall set will occur!

  • a better tailored Welcome Packet (sent upon booking a session) – currently there are 1 billion options. A bit of overload methinks….

  • Dogs of the North Shore has turned into Dog’s Guide to the North Shore! EEEEEK!
    • Let’s get coordinated to make YOUR dog part of this epic book!
    • Tons of locations available – Gooseberry, Split Rock, WATERFALLS, beaches & shorelines and more!
    • If you have favorite places to visit from Duluth to Grand Marais along the North Shore, let me know! I want to make this guide quite in depth and available for purchase at various visitor centers along the route!
    • Sessions are $99 with a portion of the proceeds going to Ruff Start Rescue! Email cahlean@aboutadogphoto or text 320.428.0135 to coordinate your North Shore Session today! We can book for any time throughout now until October!
  • Alumni Sessions for Tri County Humane Society
    • details to come, summer & possibly fall sessions, special session pricing with a portion of the proceeds going to Tri County Humane Society! (And don’t worry, your dog doesn’t need to be an alum of TCHS to participate!)

  • Pop up shops for Atomic Collars in St. Cloud MN for the summer – follow on IG at @atomiccollar for all the details!

  • Teenie Weenie Sessions for the summer & fall
    • St. Cloud area & Twin Cities metro locations TBD, links when they are available will be sent to VIPs first! 
    • Keep an eye on social media for the formal date announcements!
    Book your fall session now and you’ll get a mega awesome perk. It could be a print credit, it could be a digital image or a mega cool one of a kind piece of artwork of your dog! (Perks available only for the month of June!)  Fall sessions aligned with fall leaf colors are mega limited, booking now ensures you get your spot!

  • 12 years in business! Birthday giveaways coming soon! Keep an eye on social media for details!

  • Consistent blogs – dog noms, training tips, more photography tips, TCHS adoptables, possibly some product videos, just generally more content (which may mean more pictures of Blue haha!). Weekly at a minimum. Feel free to suggest topics you want to pick my brain on!

    I’m looking for small dogs, big dogs, fuzzy dogs, unique dogs, rare breeds, crazy fast dogs, puppies, dogs with epic stories, epic people with epic dogs. Email or text me if you want to have your dog be a model. (Each dog model gets a complimentary session & 1 digital image.)

I look forward to year 12 of About A Dog Photography! Thank you a bazillion for your support and your continuing support.  I’m aiming to completely refocus my mental energy and forge forward. Every dog deserves EPIC photos! Let me help you achieve them!

Contact me via email: or via text (yes you can call too) 320.428.0135


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Happy Easter! (Plus a plastic egg activity!)

Happy snow covered Easter (as of yesterday, yes this is a day late, whoops!). Kris, Blue & I send our “hoppy” greetings and love.

Plastic Egg Activity for Dogs!

Did you happen to have plastic eggs, or have they been on hand for generations for children, either yours or for you as a child? (If you don’t have any, run out now and snag some!)

Why do you need plastic eggs? For an Easter egg hunt for your dog! (Plus this activity can be done anytime – if it is rainy, snowing, too hot, too cold etc). 

  •  Start with clean plastic eggs. 
  • Pop them open and drop a smelly, tasty, little morsel of a treat inside.
  • Once your have prepped as many eggs as you want, its time to hide them! 
  • For beginners, have your dog watch where you hide them, give them a “find it” command and help your dog find each egg. Give them the treat inside.  
    ** Make sure they don’t chomp on the egg! This type of plastic can shatter!
  • Make it more challenging by hiding your dog when he or she is out of the room. Bring your dog into the room and encourage them to “find it”. Help your dog find the eggs and reward them with the tasty treat inside. 
Hide a few, a ton, hide them hard or easily and make it a fun game. The plastic egg hunt is a great boredom buster and metal exercise for your pup. (Mental exercise is a great way to tire them out!). If the weather is nice, hide them outside. 

Blue & I use the slightly larger eggs (he has a big mouth and I don’t want the smaller ones going down the hatch). You can use the giant eggs, the bigger ones, standard size or small eggs. As long as your dog can get a whiff of treats the egg size doesn’t matter!

Have fun with this! 

And once again, happy Easter from Kris, Blue & I!

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5 Reasons Dog Photography in the Middle of the Day Sucks

The middle of the day is when the sun hits the highest point in its arc as it travels across the sky. (Yeah yeah, the Earth rotates, the sun stays still, yadda yadda!). At the hightest point, the most light is available to grow plants, bake landscapes and mess up photographs. 

Did you know that the middle of the day isn’t always noon?

It’s true! Head to Date & Time and type in your city (or a big city in your region). If you scroll to the current date and click on it, you’ll see a curved graph that illustrates when the sun rises, hits the middle of the day and when it sets. (This is a great tool for photographers for planning around golden hour & sunset!)

March 15th in Minneapolis has a middle of they day landing at 1:21 pm. 


5 reasons why dog photography during the middle of the day sucks:

    Trees, leashes, the photographer’s shadow, all arrive dark and hard edged to cross the dog in your scene. Why are these shadows so dramatic? Because the sun is a teenie tiny light source a long ways away, which means the light it casts in the middle of the day is hard light. (The smaller the light source the harder the light & shadows, the bigger the light source the softer the light & shadows!)

    Contrast is the range of brightness in an image. Middle of the day images tend to be VERY strong in contrast with hard shadows and overly bright whites. This means you can have super bright whites and very dark darks all together in one image. So much contrast!

    The lightest parts of your image now have gained a TON of light due to the sun being overhead. This means highlights may tend to be blown out (no details left, pure white) and light dogs are prone to looking like dogs without details. 

    People aren’t the only ones prone to squinty eyes! Facing a dog into the sun (sun at your back) can make your dog squint too!

    The middle of the day is the hottest time of the day, especially during the summer! Not comfortable for people or dogs to be active in, especially dogs with double coats and squashed faces. 

Here are some examples featuring dogs from Tri County Humane Society. Every Tuesday at 11 am I swing by and photograph the adoptable dogs and cats. The dogs and I traipse outside, no matter the weather (exception is brutal cold). Which means we land smack in the start of the middle of the day. 

All of the image are unedited to give you a solid representation of why photographing dogs in the middle of the day sucks! (They get leashes edited out before they are sent to Tri County Humane Society to use on their website!)

This is LB! He’s currently available for adoption with Tri County Humane Society!

OOOOF! It was sunny on Tuesday! Note the hard shadows coming off his feet & legs and the shadowing on the side of his face (indicating where the sun was). The shadow by his eye closest to the light is from his eye socket! LB is a light tan dog which meant the brightness of the light gave him an extra light coloring and some overly bright highlights. 

Another of LB! That blob in the lower right hand corner? That’s my shadow! He’s facing the sun more, which means he has less shadowing on his face, though the cheekbone shadow is quite strong. Check out that leash shadow! When it comes to editing out leashes, make sure to look for the shadow from leash as well! Or you could end up with a strong black line across a leg or foot (like above)! 

Scrappy! A lovely dark brownish black dog. The sun was at his side, which meant the side of his face opposite was VERY dark in shadow. The hard edges of the shadow are harder to see in the grass, but you can see by their darkness how much contrast was in the light that morning. The highlights and white are quite bright – note the leash clasp, white on his chest and birch trees in the background. Overall the image has a contrasty, crunchy look that isn’t dreamy or really pleasing. 

Another of Scrappy! Again the light is coming from the side of Scrappy, which means the opposite side of his face and body is enrobed in shadows. Note the brightness on his face where the light is hitting making his dark brown black color overly bright. And the rather bright spot on his tongue too! The brights and darks in the grass give if a fussy, messy look. 

What can you do when that’s the time you have to photograph adoptable dogs? 

Now there are some ways you can get middle of the day lighting to work for you!

  • Backlight
    Position yourself facing into the light, with the light at the back of the dog. No squinty eyes and you’ll get some lovely light that tickles whiskers and hairs. The biggest downfall – dark dog faces. Since the light is behind the dog, there isn’t much light that will fall upon the dog’s face. You can play with it a bit in post processing or use a reflector or pop of fill flash to help balance your image. 

  • Open shade
    This shade is found at the edge of shadows with your dog facing out of the shadow towards the light. The shaded background will behind your dog and the light from the edge of the shadow will bounce and illuminate your dog. The easiest way to see this in action is to use your garage. Open the garage door and position your dog right where the shadow meets the light. Observe. Rotate your dog to face into the garage (note the super bright background). Then lead your dog into the garage and watch how the light dims and grows the closer to edge of shadow you move. 

  • Embrace it!
    Position your dog facing the light and photograph away. There may be some squinty eyes, some high contrast and blown out hightlights, but you potentially can have lovely blue skies and true colors on your pup. Or head to an area of interesting shadows and place your dog within them to capture the artistic side of middle of the day shooting. 

Not sure if you’re in middle of the day light? Check for hard shadows! Deep dark shadows with crisp edges is typically an indicator that an image was captured sometime during the middle of the day.

We’ve made it through the 5 reasons dog photography in the middle of the day sucks, with examples, and ways you can work with middle of the day light with deep shadows, bright whites and high contrast!

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