Happiness is Colorific – Behind the Scenes of a Dog Photography Challenge
When I set out to create an image for Unleashed Education’s first Embark Challenge Colorific, I knew I wanted something happy. With a brief like Colorific, I was envisioning something bright & joyful. Let’s go behind the scenes and see how I arrived at the final happy photograph of Rabun the Dalmatian for the Colorific dog photography challenge.
What is the Embark Dog Photography Challenge?
The Embark Challenges are the brainchild of Unleashed Education. Founded by 2 of the world’s most talented pet photographers & educators, Charlotte Reeves & Craig Turner-Bullock, Embark asks professional pet photographers to compete in completing 12 challenges to create gorgeous photographs of dogs. These challenges are designed to push the creative, editing, and artistic skill of pet photographers around the globe.
At the end of each challenge photo entries are judged, receive feedback, and a top 20 and top 10 winners are announced. In my ongoing quest for continuing education, I want to push myself as an artist to make images more creatively, which is why I joined Unleashed Education at the end of 2021. And it’s why I am participating in the Embark Challenges.
Meet Rabun – The Rescued Dalmatian
I knew Rabun even before his mom met him. Back in 2017 when I was working for the Humane Society of Morgan County in Madison, Georgia we were contacted by the Georgia Department of Agriculture asking for our help in a puppy mill that was being shut down.
On site there were dozens of purebred dogs – more than 30 dogs in concrete runs with no access to grass and cleaned only by housing the waste out the back and down the hill (which was how authorities were notified about what was going on). Rescues came together to rescue the dogs and begin the rehab process. Dalmatian puppy Rabun was one of those dogs! He was taken in by another rescue to be vetted & eventually be adopted by Jennifer!
Rabun has thrived in his forever home. He’s an excellent frisbee dog, great with kids, loves to paddle board, and is an obedience superstar!
Planning the Shot
Fast forward to my announcing the Embark Sessions at the beginning of 2022. I started taking applications to find just the right dog for each challenge. The moment I saw Rabun sign up – I knew I wanted him for Coloriffic! I was so inspired by the idea of a black & white dog in a color world. The mix of spots & stripes in the final image was just an extra little happy accident.
Our first attempt at Colorific had Jennifer and I meeting at sunrise at a new mural installation in downtown Monroe, Georgia. We got some really fun images and I was pretty happy with the results. But, then I realized I had completed our session a day too early! The images wouldn’t qualify for Embark as all images must be taken during the challenge timeline.
Sheepishly, I reached out to Jennifer to ask if she would get up before the sun again to meet me with Rabun for a redo. Not only was she willing to meet me again for another chance – Jennifer emailed me a few local colorful murals that had been created in her town of Suwanee! As soon as I clicked the link to see the rainbow mural – I knew we had our location.
Getting the Final Image
My initial idea was to have Rabun right in the middle of the rainbow, so we started there. But I wasn’t feeling it once we started photographing him. It was missing something.
One of the best parts of a challenge like this is that with the goal being a single image, it pushes you to really take your time, think about angles, and get creative! I noticed the bright yellow parking poles and realized I could use one to block half the mural creating a clean wash of yellow that led you into Rabun smiling in the scene with an entire rainbow of cheerful color bringing you right to his happy face.
So, I sat down right in a little pile of trash and debris, relied on Rabun’s mom to help get his attention – and that million dollar smile is thanks to his favorite toy!
I’m thrilled this image placed in the Top 20 among more than 100 other insanely talented professional pet photographers. But, mostly I’m thrilled to have had that creative spark reignited.
I hope Rabun’s happy face puts a smile on your face today.
CONTACT ME TO PLAN YOUR SESSION
Does your dog have what it takes to be an Embark model?
This blog is a part of a blog circle with pet photographers from across the globe! This week we’re talking about Happiness!
Be sure to keep clicking the link at the bottom to complete the circle until you wind up back here!
What to read next?
Emerge Pet Photography Awards - Portfolio ReviewI felt like I needed two posts to share about the Emerge Awards. While the individual pet photography challenges are judged individually the portfolios are then reviewed as a whole. Each challenge is very different, and...
Big thanks to Hannah, Maple, & Party for making this image happen. This was my first photo session post surgery and I was nervous how my body would do and if my brain would work creatively after taking so much time off to heal, but I had made a commitment to...
One of the trickiest tricks a pet photographer must have up her sleeve is how to keep dogs that don’t know “stay” to stay for a photo. While there are a few tricks I use during nearly every session, one of my favorites is an Up Ups. Up Ups just means elevating the dog...
Have More Questions?
Get in touch. I’d love to talk with you.