I have been wanting to try some new studio lighting techniques for awhile - especially a black backdrop with a black dog. It's such a beautiful, sophisticated look when you get it right; resembling an Old Master's renaissance painting. It's also technically challenging. Creating separation between the dog and the background, maintaining detail in the dog, and avoiding unnatural, weird shadows is very difficult. And, of course I expected to perfect my technique on the first try.
Well, I should know better.
Sure, I can set up a black backdrop, follow a lighting diagram, and take a picture. But as most "creatives" know, trying something new is an excruciating journey of self-exploration until you find your "voice". Actually, I wouldn't limit this feeling to creatives as I think most people go through a painful process of self-discovery when embarking upon something new.
The adventure is far from over, but I've learned a lot about myself on this journey.
As with any new technique, I started with Clooney. He's technically not a black dog, but he's drop dead gorgeous and a hard working model. I tried a few lighting set ups, before deciding he needed a halo of light behind him because...well...he is an angel. I mean, look at that face!
Then I asked my friend, Lindy, and her dog Boudreaux (aka: Bou, Bou Bou or Bou Bear) to model. Lindy also happens to be my "dog wrangler" and the magician behind my photos since every dog loves her and they radiate happiness when she is around. Bou also happens to be Clooney's 1/2 brother, an enthusiastic model, and I love him like my own.
So, Lindy and Bou showed up and I was out-of-my-mind excited to try my new lighting technique. All dogs deserve halos, right?
I could hardly contain myself and we got to work. But shortly into the shoot, Lindy starts laughing, pointing out that Bou looks like he's posing for a school photo.
OMG. He did! The forced smile. The gradient backdrop. For comparison, I pulled out one of my old photos. Yup. Total yearbook picture. We even have the same hair!
Poor Bou Bou was about as excited for his yearbook photo, as I was for mine...
So, back to the drawing board, and you know what I learned?
Despite my best efforts to grow into a mature adult with refined tastes and style, I'm a GenX 80's girl through and through. I work hard, I play hard, and big hair is just one rainy day away.
Oh, and in case you wondered, the 80's were invented by poodles. Seriously. Ask anyone who survived the 80's and has also known a poodle. The drama. The flamboyance. The HAIR. It's all so...poodley.
So, I'm probably part poodle too.
Well, Bou was bored, and I'm not in the business of torturing dogs, so out came my colored gels. And, POOF! Happy Dog! 80's Dog!
He even threw out his best Flashdance moves for us...
I'd say he gave Irene Cara a run for her money...what do you think?
Then we asked him to give us his best 80's porn star look. He nailed it.
Of course, Clooney grew jealous and insisted on joining the party.
Oh, poor Clooney. He clearly needs to work on his dance moves as he looks fresh off the set of Goonies...
So, he and Bou decided to form a boy band instead. They just need their poodle sisters as their back up singers. Seriously, their sisters have "do's" that make Tina Turner's hair seem flat and lifeless.
If this isn't the perfect 80's record cover, I don't know what is...
Lindy thinks I should offer "school photos" and disco dogs as part of my studio packages. Given my goal is to make people smile and those photos are pretty dang funny...I'll think about it.
Oh and the dogs had a blast too...what more could I ask for?
By the way...if you need an excellent dog trainer or trustworthy place to board your dog, contact Lindy at K9Funclub. Your dog will love you for it.