Looking At The Sun

dog photography, dogs, Healthy Living, Photographer
Charlie Brown on a recent woods walk.

How have you been? I hope that you are healthy. I’m sorry that I haven’t written in a while. We’re all fine, but for many months now, I’ve felt that I had nothing new to say. 

The calendar dates changed, my hair grew long, and we’ve aged a little. I was taking the same photos of the dogs on the couch and the cat at the window, so I put my camera down, even though I bought a fancy new one. I stopped researching dog-friendly hotels along road trip routes. The subzero cold weather during January froze out not only our outdoor activities but also zapped my creativity. I’ve felt like I’ve been living a never-ending loop of Groundhog Day.

This morning it was finally warm enough to take our full morning walk, and I realized that I no longer needed to bring a flashlight. The sun was just beginning to rise, turning the sky a vibrant pink. Last weekend, I picked up a camera, and finished a roll of film. I started the roll so long ago that I’ll be completely surprised when I receive my negatives. Pushing the shutter felt good. I’m crawling out of my hole, but I’m looking up at the sun so I don’t see my shadow.

A couple of days ago, I entered a few of my dog images to a juried show. Maybe they’ll pick me; maybe they won’t. I noted the irony of having someone choosing a photo of one of my rescue pups, dogs that I had once picked – or rather were matched with me– by the rescue organization. Dogs that the rescue organization had picked.

Anyway, part of the art show application process is always the inclusion of “The Artist’s Statement.” This short piece of writing isn’t supposed to be a biography but rather the artist’s thoughts or mindset concerning the piece. I stared at the entry form on the screen, my mind as blank as the form. A quick Google query on famous artist statements yielded interesting results, but my form was still unfilled. (See: https://proactivecreative.com/powerful-artist-statement-examples/)

What was I thinking when I plopped a purple wig on Linus before I snapped his photo?

“Peace, Out”: Linus, shot on medium format film in our backyard

Introspection ensued. At the time I took the photos, I had been spending most of my waking hours in zoom meetings. The outside world was turning golden and warm in late summer, with puffy clouds and bird songs. Inside, I was on a small laptop, holed up in my dark home office, dressed in a blazer, blouse, and a pair of golf shorts, staring at a screen of squares. I was simultaneously experiencing two versions of reality, but neither seemed real or normal.

As our dogs are a mirror of ourselves, Linus in the purple wig enjoying the breeze was my alter ego. He embodied where my head was. My hair had grown long again during the pandemic, but I wear it tied back at work. In one of the submitted photos, the purple hair is loose, with strands caught in the soft breeze. Linus’ eyes are nearly closed; his nose gently gathering the air’s scents. He looks serene.

In another photo I submitted, Linus is lying in the grass, again with the purple wig, and wearing an old pair of my sunglasses. He is looking straight at the camera. On social media, I captioned the photo “My new zoom look.”

“Groovy, Man”: Another shot of Linus, taken on medium format film

Through Linus, I could express my feelings in a way one can’t while dressed in a blazer. I was feeling confined, closed in my dark spare bedroom, captured in a small square on a small screen, and constrained by structured clothing. My hours working were often long and my schedule was unpredictable. I longed to be outside where I could relax and literally let my hair down. These photos were self-portraits of my thoughts. I wanted fresh air. I wanted serenity.

About my hair: During the pandemic, my blonde highlights grew out and my hair color is now a reddish light brown with occasional strands of silver. I don’t have plans to dye my hair purple, but maybe, once it becomes mostly grey, I might try sunrise pink.

Snaptastic! Readers share their dog portraits

dogs, How-to, photography, Uncategorized


In an image sent in by Carol, Bradley the Labrador (owned by Carol’s son) enjoys a dip in a lake in the Sawtooth Mountains.

Fayston, Vermont. After a couple of posts giving photography tips for capturing a good portrait of your dog, I put my readers to the test. (Well, it was an optional assignment.) I received excellent submissions through which I can not only see your dogs likeness, but I also feel how special your dogs are.  That emotion is the end goal of a good portrait, so congratulate yourselves on an assignment well done!

From Carol, in New Jersey, I received images of of her son’s dog, Bradley, and of her Labradoodle, Wilson. Kersten, also in New Jersey, shared photos of her dog Rhodie. Andrea in Connecticut sent in photos of her dog, Filbert. And Nancy, who lives not far from me in Vermont, forwarded photos of several of her dogs. Thank you all for sharing your images!

I’ve assembled the photos into a gallery, below. Click on an image to see the dog’s name or owner. Sweet!

Oh, snap! (Send your photos before it’s too late!)

dogs, How-to, photography, Uncategorized


Linus, Charlie Brown, and Lucy take a break during our evening stroll.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017.

A gentle reminder: Dear readers, I’ve only had two of you send in dog photos for my October post! I am grateful to those faithful two, but I’d really like to show photos from a few more of you – especially if you have found my photography tips helpful!  So please give portrait shooting a go and email your images on or before October 1, 2017 (that’s this Sunday) to me at silvernaildesign@gmail.com. I won’t sell your images or give them to any other party to use, I promise.

If you don’t have a dog, I will post your portrait of another pet or a favorite person of yours. The idea is to have you try the tips I gave you to see if they help you take a better picture. (I’m betting they will! To review my last post, please click here.)

In addition to sending your portrait to me, I’ve found a few more places for you to submit your dog’s photo. Two of the three are time-sensitive, so start snapping!

  1. Orvis is looking for a catalog cover dog. Submit your photo by September 30, 2017.  Prizes, Orvis merchandise, and the coveted cover are at stake! Check out their gallery of entries for inspiration.
  2. Adventure Dogs Official is an Instagram account that features fun reader-submitted photos of dogs out having a great time. It’s a wonderful account to browse for ideas and just be bow-wow-ed! They are always looking for dogs to feature. Send a high resolution photo with caption and location of pic to advernturedogsco@gmail.com or tag #AdventureDogsOfficial on Instagram.
  3. Smithsonian Magazine is also holding a dog photo contest. Actually, Smithsonian offers many categories for its annual contest. Even if you don’t want to enter, it’s worth browsing through the submissions. (I feel so boring and landlocked after I viewed some of the wonderful entries. Maybe I just need another glass of wine.) Contest entries are due November 30, 2017. You must create a profile before you can submit a photo.

If you have any questions, please send an email to me or use the contact form, below. Thank you for your participation. I’m looking forward to seeing your photos! 

Kind Regards,