Top 10 Photos of 2023

2023 was an interesting year for me. Between opening The Ranch for dog boarding & daycare and taking nearly 4 months off for a total hysterectomy, I didn’t photograph as many clients this year as in years past. But, 2 images from private clients made into the Top 10. I also competed in Emerge which pushed me to create several of my favorite images of the year. 

So enough preamble, here, in no particular order are my top images from this year…

Glitter Girl – The Sparkliest Horse

My very first session of the year required a nearly 3 hour drive each way to photograph two horses, Glitter Girl & Kappy. GG & Kappy’s mom had a brilliant idea to photograph them accented with glitter embracing Glitter Girl’s name. 

We used cosmetic glitter and vaseline to carefully apply the glitter to the horse’s coat and added a little extra in post processing to create some really stunning images. 

Callie – In the Golden Sun

Backlit photos are one of my favorite types of images to create. Something about dogs washed in golden sunshine feels magical to me. When I think about dogs in my mind’s eye I always see them backlit by the sun’s rays. 

In fact, this image of Callie is one of THREE of my top 10 photos of 2023 that feature backlighting! 

Callie came to me in March for her second photoshoot as we planned to create a full year’s worth of season’s in her album. We met at historic downtown Madison Georgia’s cultural center which has some of the prettest azelea blooms I’ve ever seen. This particualr image was taken just at the end of our session and Callie was finally tired enough to sit. I love the look on her face and the soft round bokeh lights that remind me of fairy lights. 

Spaced Out – Maple the Pharoah Hound for Emerge

Maple is one of my favorite dogs to photograph. In fact, Maple makes TWO appearances on thie year’s Top 10 list. It doesn’t hurt that her mom is a fantastic dog trainer and Maple’s manners are top notch.

For this image, I was competing in the Emerge dog photography challenges on a challenge using negative space. I loved the way Maple both blended in and stood out in this image. The antique brick in downtown Rutledge, GA perfectly compliments the reddish orange of Maple’s fur. Negative space always feel peaceful to me, so using a monochrome image felt like a great fit.

Unfortunately, I missed a bit of Maple’s EAR duplicated in the image submitted from judging making this image fall just short of a winning finish in the competition. I corrected my editing error and this image still takes a spot in my personal Top 10 of 2023.

The 3rd of Atlanta dog photographer's top 10 images of 2023.

Photographing Black Dogs – Lizzie in the Forest

Photographing black dogs can offer challenges – capturing the dark rich fur while not loosing those gorgeous brown chocolate eyes in a black blob of pixels is one of the reason’s clients reach out to a professional dog photographer. This image was taken of number 2 of Lizzie’s 3 photo sessions. 

We had actually met at Athens, Georgia’s Rainbow Forest to capture some images for Emerge, but then I spotted these two trees just down the hill and knew I would love to have them frame Lizzie’s beautiful face. Luckily, the sun had just sunk below the horizon giving us beautiful soft nondirectional light. 

Dog Hotel – Athens, GA Graduate Hotel

The only photo featuring one of my own dogs to make the 2023 Top 10 list! This was another photo for the Emerge dog photography challenges. This time our challenge was all about “Under Cover” – or being inside for the photos. I wanted to find somewhere cool with interesting furniture. The Graduate Hotel – a dog friendly hotel! – fit the bill perfectly! 

They were kind enough to let us crash the lobby, set up lights, and photograph a couple of dogs. I love Mikey’s expression in this final photo and he’s practicing his newest trick “head down” which is one of my favorites to photograph!

Betty the Therapy Horse at Oconee Therapeutic Riding

One of the highlights of my year was getting to meet & photograph the therapy horses at Oconee Therapeutic Riding. The work that these horses do alongside the incredible trainers for children and adults in the community is inspiring. While I loved photographing all the horses, I expecially loved this image of Betty coming out of the darkness and into the light. 

Delilah – In the Wild Flowers

Even though I was just about 6 weeks post surgery, I still had a goal to finish my images for the Emerge dog photography challenges, so I planned a short session with my friend Michelle and her dog Delilah. As we headed to our location I spotted one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Nestled at the bottom of the hill at Indian Creek Park (one of my favorite places to photograph dogs) in what I call the “meadow” was an explosion of wild flowers. I have lived here for 10 years now and have never seen the wildflowers like this. Typically the field is regularly mowed and while beautiful with grass and trees and filtered sunlight, it had never been this fantasy land overrun with flowers. 

Once we hiked down, I realized why it hadn’t been mowed – several weeks with LOTS of rain had left the entire meadow floor soft and muddy which kept the lawn mowing tractors off. We set Delilah up and I photographed this one image before hiking back up the hill absolutely exhausted, but so happy with this photo. 

I spent a lot of my recovery driving over to the park to walk among the flowers until they were finally cut. It still feels a little like a magic trip to Narnia. 

Golden Golden Retreiver – Feather at the Farm

Here we are with another backlit image from 2023. This time it’s Feather the gorgeous Golden Retreiver photographed for the Bokehlicious challenge in Emerge 2023. Bokehlicious was all about capturing those little round circles of light in the lens. My vision for this challenge needed a golden dog to play into the colors of golden sunset bokeh. 

Luckily my friend Marilyn has the MOST gorgeous young Golden Retreiver named Feather AND she was willing for me to come kidnap Feather for the afternoon to photograph her at my sister in law’s farm in Rutledge, GA. This image is everything I imagined in my mind and I love the way it turned out! 

Double Trouble – Double Pharoah Hounds for Emerge

For the Double Trouble challenge in Emerge I really wanted to find two dogs that looked as much alike as possible. It’s harder to find a more beautifully matched pair of dogs that Maple & her daughter Party. 

I tasked their mom Hannah with practicing having the girls standing facing each other based on my very technical concept drawings (saracasm, lol). Be sure to click over the Facebook the see the before & after. 

This image not only made a Top 10 in the Emerge challenges it finished as the NUMBER ONE image for the Double Trouble challenge. 

Counting down the the final images in Atlanta pet photographer Courtney Bryson's top 10 dog images of 2023.

Shake! Shake! Shake it off! – With Twyla the Chocolate Lab

For my final favorite image from 2023, I thought we could have a little fun! This isn’t my usual image style, but I love about competing in the Unleashed Dog Photography challenges is adapting my style to fit the brief. I’m using all my favorite colors for dog photography – browns and greens – and mixing in some great expression with the one little tooth sticking out – and finishing it with a really dynamic SHAKE from Twyla! 

I have to know

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