A dog's life: Sask. photographers capture hearts with pet portraiture businesses
Everyone and their dog can take a photo with a smartphone, but it takes talent to capture a child — or a pet — well.
This is why two Saskatchewan photographers are honing in on the market for professional pet portraits.
"My kids are grown up, so I couldn't take their picture anymore, and I loved taking pictures of my dog [Cooper]," said Regina's David Bellerive of his decision to start a pet photography business — Diggety Dog.
Bellerive said while business has been good, it's his love for animals that motivates him to keep shooting.
"I absolutely love dogs, and I guess I just love capturing that great, animal soul."
Capturing a keeper
Bellerive said capturing the perfect shot is rarely easy, though. However, he said he has a number of techniques handy in order to get pets to connect with his camera.
"I use a lot of different sounds, like dog squeakers, duck calls, rabbit calls, whistles. It's like a switch goes off and they'll give you that little head tilt."
Bellerive said he loves all the portraits he takes, but there are a few that really stand out.
"Bazinga is probably my favourite. A typical terrier, he came in, took a dump, knocked over the background, and lasted about five minutes, but we managed to get two or three great shots."
Bellerive hangs all the portraits he takes in his office, which he described as his "happy place," but said the owner's reactions is his greatest reward.
"When people see their dog, and they go, 'yeah, that's him or her. You just captured it perfectly,' that's great."
Spreading the love
Bellerive is not the only one taking professional photos of people's pooches.
"When we got our own dog I just loved having pictures of him and we got another dog and it kind of carried out into the realization I just wanted to do this for more people," said Erin McFarland, the owner of High Four Pet Photography in Saskatoon.
Though McFarland has always loved photography, it wasn't until she started snapping photos of animals that she found her true calling.
"I felt it all in my heart. It was like an epiphany almost. Like, this is what I'm meant to do with my camera because I love pets."
She mostly takes photos of cats and dogs, but has had a few more unusual subjects — like rabbits and a snake.
As for the future of a pet photography business, McFarland is hopeful.
"People love their pets more than ever. They're part of the family."