The making of our family portrait

Family portrait with pets

The family portrait.

Education comes from everywhere. My most valuable of all the classes I have taken happened on the other side of the lens.

I have an eternal supply of patience when I am photographing pets. I am the queen of saying “just one more”. It’s what I love to photograph more than anything. I understand that it takes a little while for them to settle in and I don’t worry about getting  the perfect image, it almost always happens.

A dear friend of ours wanted to do a family portrait. Karen and I put it off for over a year, maybe even two years. But thankfully, Michael was gently tenacious. He never gave up and continued to persistently nudge me. For his gentle persistence, I will be eternally grateful.

There aren’t many photos of me out there. My comfort zone resides from the back of the camera to front of the lens. End of story. Planning our family photo took some thought. I wanted it to be meaningful and I wanted elements from all the things I hold dear to my heart from day-to-day.

The barn is where we have our coffee morning and night in the winter. Karen and I spend hours planning for the next year’s garden, sharing our day and enjoying the companionship of our dogs.

The white chairs we move about the yard in the heat of the summer in search of a cool breeze and some shade.

The greyhounds are how we met. I had a pair of dogs that needed a forever home, Karen had an acre.

The borzoi came into our world very much an unplanned joy.

And the chickens. Who would’ve thought that chickens could be so much fun and bring so much entertainment into our lives. They were just supposed to be pets with benefits.

And so, with a tripod and my camera, Michael became our beloved shutter buddy. I knew in my head what I wanted. Executing it to near perfection… that was a big giant question mark.

Two-by-two we brought out each of the critters. Michael’s patience was amazing. To put together one family photo, it took us an hour and a half. And this, this is where I received my most valuable education. It’s hard work being on the other side of the lens. It’s frustrating, it’s easy to want to say “we’re done”, all of the patience that I pride myself on having was gone. My expectations outweighed my patience by a lot. And yet, behind the lens Michael smiled and waited as we put everyone in their place just one more time.

I have taken thousands of photos of our dogs. But this one, with the help of Michael will go down is history as one of my very favorite photos.

It’s destined to be a large canvas over our fireplace.

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