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A Different Angle on Dog Photography – Interview with Bow Wow Projects

One look at the Bow Wow Projects portfolio and one can easily see that this very special team of artists is skilled with the talent to convey mood, personality and atmosphere… something to truly admire, especially when photographing dogs! Their unique perspective is something we had to explore, and we’re delighted to present the following interview with Lisa Thackaberry and Dale Berman, Bow Wow Projects.
Specializes In: Dog Photography / Photo Editing
Interviewee: Lisa Thackaberry and Dale Berman

PP: How did the idea for your business come about?
Lisa: We love dogs and wanted to start a business that would be fun.

PP: What services do you offer with
Lisa: Our services begin with a photo shoot and from there we can produce prints for framing, custom books, cards. Basically whatever people need.

PP: What is your background as a photo editor?
Lisa: I have been a photo editor for over 20 years and have worked at GQ, Home , LA Times Sunday Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine and currently at Angeleno.

PP: What do you love most about capturing dogs’ images?
Lisa: Their expressiveness. I also like the incredible variety of sizes, colors and shapes.

PP: How does photography of animals differ from that of humans?
Lisa: It’s not entirely different. Dogs, like people, can be extroverted or shy. Puppies are exactly like babies…..impossible! I guess you don’t have to feed people on set  The lack of vanity is probably the biggest difference…..but even then, I remember my dog’s look of horror when outfits were put on him for photo shoots.

PP: How would you say the Bow Wow Projects style is different than that of other dog photographers/editors?
Lisa: Stylewise we like to keep things simple and clean. We’re more interested in capturing the integrity of the dogs rather than just making them look cute.

PP: How do you find your dog models?
Lisa: We find models through friends, Craig’s List and Meetups.

PP: What has been your #1 favorite photography moment so far?
Lisa: Shooting a little guy named Fellman who wouldn’t come out from under the bed because he thought we were the groomers. Once we got that cleared up he was a complete ham in front of the camera.

PP: Where do you find the inspiration to keep your photography creative and unique?
Lisa: To keep inspired we’re always looking at paintings, other photographers work and vintage dog photography. I love the challenge of trying to come up with ideas that are original. It’s very easy to fall into clichés with pet images.

PP: Do you have a “most embarrassing” or “most stressful” photography moment that you can share with us?
Lisa: Ha…most stressful was the shoot we did with you an Lilly. We were trying to make the most out of the free studio space we had gotten so I over scheduled the dogs. At the point where we had 5 french bulldogs running around and their owners , things were getting pretty chaotic.

PP: How do you get dogs to cooperate?
Lisa: In learning that with most dogs, it’s simply a matter of patience to get them to cooperate. Even the puppies get tired after a while and will eventually just stay still. Obviously food and toys can be useful to get a dog to follow a command or to use sound to get their attention. Sometimes it’s just best to shoot whatever the dog likes to do.One of my favorites is Fellman jumping off a chair or Pharoah peeing on a wall. It’s not all about telling the dogs what to do… need to be observant.

PP: Do you have any tips for readers about taking great photos of their dogs?
Lisa: As far as tips….I would be studying your own dog’s particular personality. Also , it’s useful to know that moving in close and finding unusual angles can produce very interesting photos. Not every shot should be the middle ground , which is what most people do. Keep backgrounds uncluttered and move around your pet really looking for a good composition. Most people shoot straight on and don’t experiment with getting low on the ground or finding a Birdseye view.

PP: Some of your signature shots are toys and bones of dogs. What inspired that idea?
Lisa: The toys and bones came about because I believe that personal objects can be very emotional and representative. My dog passed away but I have his collar and and some toys and they hold great meaning for me. It also just gives us more subject matter to work with. A beautiful diptych is a portrait of your dog next to one of his belongings.

PP: How does bad editing hurt a collection of good photographs?
Lisa: Editing the images is very important. If you take a great shot but don’t choose it, then it doesn’t really exist.

PP: Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to share?
Lisa: We are shooting a charity event this weekend for Big Sunday . An at risk girls group will be bathing 100 rescue Bassett Hounds. Should be really fun!!

PP: Where do you see the pet photography industry going?
Lisa: I think the pet photography business is going to do really well. Having an iconic image of you pet lasts forever. I know that I’m grateful for all the wonderful photos that my photographer friends took of my dog Henry.

PP: What advice would you give someone about to launch a new pet-related business?
Lisa: I would highly encourage it. It’s a growing business and I also think that dogs bring out the best in people so it makes it a very nice atmosphere to be around.

PP: Do you have pets of your own?
Lisa: I lost my dog about a year ago and am waiting to get a new dog when I’m not working quite so hard.

PP: Which websites or pet-related links would you recommend to packpeople?
Lisa: I love your site, PackPeople . You’ve done a great job with it ….it’s really grown since the last time I saw it. My favorite site is The antique French dog collars are amazing.

We thank Lisa Thackaberry, Bow Wow Projects, for sharing her experiences and knowledge with us.

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