Monday, 3 February 2014

Here are some highlights from my dog photography from 2013.

Meet Callie! She is a Bearded Collie and when I photographed her she was still a 'big' puppy!

And here she is with mauve. Perfection!

Some of my favourite puppies! Luna and Leroy. Two Wheaton Terrier pups. Brother and sister. I love the way in this shot they look like one body. This is one of the best studio dog pictures I have ever taken.

Check them out side by side on the sofa!

And then there is Cricket! I have never photographed a dog as a Butterfly before!

I got so many great shots of Cricket in the studio. She is the first Yorkie I have ever photographed. What fun! I have to lay down when I photograph small dogs in the studio and she kept running over and jumped around on my back like it was a play ground!

And Cricket is exquisite on my cream fun fur carpet!

And Pippa! Won't ever forget her.

What a perfect little Havanese ... Sigh ...

Those are some of my favourite studio shots from 2013. Stay tuned for outdoor!

Monday, 27 May 2013

A Year in the Life of Karen Moe Photography Part 3

The Cotons

And then there are the Cotons. Oh my! Jewela on the left; Fatiana on the right; and check out Prince Kintana all cozied up in the middle! Coton de Tulears are exquisite creatures: both beautifully natured and beautiful to look at. Their sweet, playful personalities and ravishing good looks are also complemented by an exotic heritage: they are the Imperial Dog of Madagascar and were brought to France during the infamous Age of Imperialism. Despite a splattering of brutality in their history, those French sure do have good taste!

I have had the honour of photographing Lorna Christie’s “White Pearl Cotons” twice. “Coton Pool Party” (above) was taken on a sparkling spring day in the dogs’ beautiful yard in White Rock BC. As soon as I saw the princess pool, I knew that the three Cotons were meant to be photographed in it. Luxurious hair rigorously brushed to perfection, fountain-tailed and chocolate-brown-almond-eyes shining, the sweetest faces crowned with tasteful bows, these dogs are so darn elegant that they trump any Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty! Move over Disney! Here are ‘The Cotons’!!

"Prince Kintana"

One day, Fatiana, Jewela and Kintana visited my studio. The morning of their visit, I put a sign in the building elevator inviting anyone to come by and meet the most beautiful dogs in the world. Three of my friends and neighbours came. One young woman, a textile designer, sat on the floor stroking Kintana and murmured with a mixture of emphasis and disbelief, “You are the most exquisite creature I have ever met...”

"Jewela & Fatiana"

Some people snub their noses at pure breds, show dogs, dogs that have been bred for centuries to achieve a certain temperament and physical appearance, dogs who are bought and sold for thousands of dollars. But, as a visual artist, and a worshipper of Beauty, I have no problem with perfection. The Cotons entered my frame as aesthetic gifts, as sculptures. Exhilarated, I constructed idealized settings and backgrounds, enacting the balance of rococo, sentimentality, romance, committing every post- modern crime. “How can any creature be so perfect?” these portraits ask. Well, they can. Look. Perfection exists.

“Coton Party”
Jewela, Fatiana and Kintana are definitely a party ... a festival in fact! Posed to perfection in front of bright spring daisies, sit three laughing Cotons in a row, girl and boy bowed, flossy hair swishing and swooping in the wind. Princess Jewela is tossing her head back in uproarious (well, delicately uproarious ... they are exquisite Cotons after all) laughter; Kintana is just a down-to-earth jovial kinda really cute guy; and sweet, demure Fatiana smiles shyly at the end.

What can be happier? How can one not smile when in the company of such adorable and adoring fun? When Lorna Christie parades her three Cotons along the White Rock Beach Promenade, she definitely turns heads. Children come running, delighted, squealing, like they are on the brink of a fairyland. They want to touch, snuggle, snuffle, and hug. How can anything so cute be real? “Mommy can I please kiss the fairy-tale?”

Ok, all of you big dog (or Dog-Dog) people are probably feeling a bit green at the “that’s not a Dog” gills. And I apologize. But I can’t help it! They are just so unbelievably cute! And they have fabulous personalities too! And, look how obedient they are, sitting there, impeccably back- grounded by yellow daisies: 3 laughing Cotons in a row.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A Year in the Life of Karen Moe Photography 2012 Part 2


As soon as I saw Jasper, I knew I had to photograph him against an old stone wall covered in lichen. Having lived in Vancouver most of my life, I knew that the Burrard Inlet side of Stanley Park has just the wall. Australian Shepherds have the most dynamic colouring of any dog, in my opinion. And when they have one blue eye and one brown, it’s an aesthete’s dream!

As a Dog Art Photographer, the visual content and composition of the image is one of my greatest passions. I think I love nothing more than creating beautiful things. And it is easy to do when dogs are your subjects. Don’t get me wrong, I like photographing the human animal too; but, if a dog just looks at the camera and cocks his or her head, it’s a good shot; humans, of course, are another story!

I photographed Jasper on a wet, grey February day. Mike and Amanda wanted jumping shots, so Jasper happily accommodated by racing and leaping tirelessly for his best-friend Frisbee. As Australian Shepherds have an explosive amount of energy, Jasper could have run and hurled himself upwards all day, I am sure.

When we had our viewing slide show with wine & cheese at my studio, Jasper saw himself doing his thing on the screen and jumped up at the pictures. Was he going for his Frisbee again? Even in two-dimensions! Now that’s devotion!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A Year in the Life of Karen Moe Photography Part 1

Well, I did it! I finished my second Year in the Life book today and it has been sent off to the printers. Some of my wonderful clients are buying one and it will be a gorgeous Dog (& Cat) Art coffee table book. Here is the first installment for your enjoyment :)

We start 2012 off with Kismet. At the time of this shoot, he was about the same age as Karen Moe Photography,a mere 8 months.

The shoot took place in Langley BC, on a bright, windy, and wild spring day. And Kismet was as wily as the wind that blew and whirled him around the acreage, his round puppy body and Havanese red and white a blur in the spring green. I was the running photographer. Chasing and ducking and attempting to predict his next move, spinning between exposures as he raced between sun and shade, still and speed, the photographer’s adrenalin buzzed alongside her subject. What resulted were a series of shots with his hair whipping around his body like a tornado, the blustering spring day in harmony with his untouched puppy spirit.

Kismet has now become a bit of a celebrity. As an ideal specimen of Havanese, he has been whisked away to the show dog circuit. His Kismet days are a thing of the past. He now jet sets from show to show and was even in Westminster in February 2013. Ironically, the history of his name is indicative of his rapid rise to fame. Starting off as Kismet, soon after this picture was taken, he went back to his breeder, Beth Obrecht of “Rockhurst Havanese” in Wakefield, Quebec, and became ‘Toto’; after a brief time as Toto, he was sent down to a prestigious handler in Sedona, California and was aptly named ‘Sedona’ because of the red Sedona desert and his corresponding red hair.

This narrative of a name doesn’t end here. I saw ‘Kismet’ again at the BC Dog Fancier’s show in October 2012 and couldn’t decide what to call him, so I tried out ‘Kismet-Toto-Sedona’. As I photographed his impeccably groomed, swishy perfection trotting around the ring, though, he then became ‘His Royal Highness’ (HRH for short). But, after the Westminster Dog Show, and returning to a less glamorous but maybe more fun life as a sought-after-stud, he has now become ‘Jack.’ Personally, after such a lineage of nomenclature, I find ‘Jack’ to be a bit of a thud. But perhaps his new found macho profession is befitting of a simpler, more manly name.

Nevertheless, whatever ‘Kismet-Toto-Sedona-HRH-Jack’s’ name is in the moment, I am so glad I met and photographed a most charismatic and mischievous puppy named Kismet!

What a flossy coated beautiful guy!

swoosh ... swoosh

HRH rocks!

I think the judge is impressed :)

I want a dog just like

Thursday, 14 February 2013

A Community through its Dogs Part 2

Let's continue with the tails of Oceanside (And, yes, that was a pun).

The month of February in our "Dogs of Oceanside" calendar brings us to Regent the pug! One of the first things I have to say is: What a guy! I had so much fun with Regent and he and I hit it off immediately (we are both Scorpios, after all ... that may have something to do with it).

Pugs are super-buddies. They are some of the most affectionate and devoted dogs. They don't tend to move very quickly so, subsequently, are always pretty nearby.

I like to photograph dogs from above looking up. The key to these "Look Up" photographs is making sure both feet are visible. I have a theory that you can tell something about the dog's personality through  his or her foot placement. We can barely see Regent's feet peeking out from beneath his perfectly spherical shape with adoring face, velvet ears and head plunked on top (and what's up with that tongue? It is always like that and Irene, one of his human companions, says it's his cigar! Is he a tycoon? A born again Winston Churchill type?) You can just see the top of Regent's pug tail curl at the rear (haha) of the shot like the handle of a tea pot, keeping him from rolling away. His peek-a-boo feet are out-turned, super casual, relaxed, comic Zen. Regent is one chill guy.

Like most relaxed creatures, Regent knows how to get pleasure. When I was photographing him and his brother Bravo, I would often sit on the floor. Every time I did, he came over to me and blissfully rubbed his head up and down my legs. He used a lot of pressure and was basically giving himself a head massage and an ear scratch. Regent doesn't wait around for people to rub his head and scratch his ears for him; he is one self-reliant pleasure-taking dude!
Regent and the Magnolia Petals

Regent and Bravo (you will meet Bravo in December) are the devoted companions of Irene and Robert. They moved to Qualicum Beach from Minneapolis. They wanted quiet, a pure sanctuary from their busy lives in a big American city. And, they sure found it but, being very gregarious and lively folk, QB is sometimes too quiet for them! They were shocked and somewhat horrified when, on move in day, they wanted to go to for dinner at 8 pm. In typical QB form, everything was already closed! "Where are we?" they exclaimed, "Where is everyone?" Why, cozied up at home, of course, don't you know it is basically bed time? Ex-pats in Pleasantville, Irene and Robert add texture to a town primarily populated by quieter, more reserved, early-to-bed-early-to-rise Canadians. 

The picture above is Regent on Irene and Robert's front steps. I photographed him in May, the height of the Magnolia blossoms, and Irene and Robert have a glorious tree out front of their distinctively West Coast home. Magenta becoming the palest pink; the magnolia petals were brush strokes and daubs across the yard and up the steps. 

Perched above the grand sweep of Qualicum Beach, the house is both relaxed and sophisticated. Stained glass, blue terra cotta flower pots on a weather-worn deck, an exquisite antique wooden table amidst groupings of historical photographs, Irene and Robert's house exudes charisma and charm; like all of its residents. And, like the originality of their home, the Long's, both human and pug, add a splash of eclecticism to the level hum of a sometimes too peaceful Canadian town.

Friday, 1 February 2013

A Community through its Dogs Part 1

In the First World, dogs as pets are everywhere, inextricably inter-woven into our lives as constant companions and, sometimes, be-jeweled and peeking out of a purse, complementing our personalities and fashion.

In 2000, I experienced the community of Central Havana through its dogs. For 2 weeks, I photographed every dog I came across, both housed and homeless. As I followed the dogs around Havana, I learned many things and heard many stories about the community. As a tourist, would I have made these cultural discoveries otherwise? I think not.

My Dogs of Havana photographs resulted in 2 exhibits (one in Vancouver and one is Toronto) and also a book simply named DOG with poems about the century long relationships between human and canine by poets Joe Rosenblatt and Catherine Owen. However, unlike the dogs in the First World, the Dogs of Havana are rarely attached to people. These are dogs as dogs. Raw. And represent a society much more on the edge than our cushy First World one where dogs usually have their own special beds and gourmet kibble. Like dogs in other societies outside of the First world, the dogs of Havana are mainly neglected (by our standards) and many are dying in the streets. But this, of course, is not surprising when humans don't have enough. Pets are a luxury and, as such, require a certain level of economic prosperity. Dogs can show us and lead us to stories and characteristics of communities and give us insights into the societies these communities are a part.

After my experience representing a community through its dogs in Cuba, it is fitting that I will find myself doing it again in Canada. In May and September 2012, I photographed 19 dogs in the Qualicum Beach/ Parksville/ Nanoose Bay area (collectively know as Oceanside). The project had its finale as a calendar. Through this calendar, I will tell you some of the stories of the Dogs of Oceanside and its people.

Meet Dexter's derriere! This shot of him looking longingly out to sea made the cover. And guess who he was looking so yearningly at? Why his human companion, Emmy, of course, to whom he is so attached ... and vice versa. Dexter is one of the luckiest dogs in the world as he is taken to the pristine Qualicum Beach every day for a walk ... well not really a walk for him, more like a wild and crazy run. QB has many retired residents. Often moving to BC from more severe climates like Edmonton or Winnipeg, you often hear "We are in paradise" exclaimed by these enchanted new-comers.

I first met Dexter when I was walking along the beach when the tide was out. In the summer months, the tide is very low in Oceanside, exposing the curving topography of wave shaped sand, giving us sun-warmed tide pools, swaths of reclining crab grass, dozing sand dollars.

As soon as I saw Dexter race towards me, blissed out maniacal lips pulled back in an oh-my-god-life-is-so-fun grin, I knew he was perfect for the project. He is a new-fangled mix of Miniature Pinscher and Shit-zu (what's that? A Shit-Pin) and Emmy says, "Other than the odd body part, he's all Pinscher in attitude and energy!"

As soon as I talked to Emmy and Joel about the Dogs of Oceanside project, they were in. To me, Dexter represents the new lives people make for themselves after they retire and move to paradise. Emmy and Joel got Dexter when they moved to Oceanside. As Emmy tells it:

Sign on the window

"Puppies for sale"
Back the truck up .. run in ... Show me the puppies for sale
Over the counter came this grizzled, black and tan, 12 week old, cutest baby dog ever ...Love at first sight .. found our New dog

Dexter is young and over-flowing with joy and play. Like so many others who find themselves in one of the dreamy hamlets of Oceanside, after years of hard work, they have embarked upon the freedom and fun of retirement. And who better to take off with than a guy like Dexter!

Dexter is such an ideal representation of Dogs of Oceanside and the community, that he is the back cover boy too! This is what he looked like when I first met him.

I organized the calendar as best I could so that each dog had their picture for their Birthday month. Here is the first, born in January, Windy:

Windy was the wildest dog I photographed during the project. She also lives in the most remote home that I visited during the shoots. Windy, George and Carol-Anne live on a farm in Nanoose Bay.

When I met George, he was standing in the yard stick still. I literally thought he was a scare-crow. And told him so. We hit it off immediately.

Windy is George's pride and joy. She is a Collie/ Alaskan Eskimo Dog cross. Both dog and man are very reclusive and of the land. It was a hot day in mid-September when I photographed Windy and George led me with pride around his delightfully over-grown farm. We waded through waist high grasses and wild-flowers and George showed me where he had buried his horses. Windy could care less about the camera as I leapt after her while she hunted. I think she only looked at me and into my lens three times during the whole 2 hour shoot. She was intent and completely focused upon the sounds of snakes and rats in the tall grass, outside of the clicks and containments of civilization.

Windy and the Field

"Who cares about you and your camera, my world is much more interesting."

Yup, completely outside of the lens. Jumping through it, actually.

There are many people on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands who live there to be at least somewhat outside of the of civilization. Some people refuse to shop at Walmart or box stores that persistently encroach upon the wilds; others go completely off of the grid on islands like Lasquiti with such audacious drop out behaviour as a no car ferry and no electricity. OMG.

After the shoot, I asked Carol-Anne and George if they plan to stay in their house forever. George stated emphatically that he was going to be buried next to his horses! Like George's spirit, Windy's gaze persistently and irreverantly eluded my camera. Windy will not be contained or ever fully obedient to society's strictures. And neither will her human side-kick.

George & Windy: a couple of Nanoose Bay renegades.

Stay tuned for "A Community through it's Dogs" Part 2! :)

Thursday, 20 September 2012


One of the many things I love about being a Dog Photographer are the stories that are told through a person's life with and love for their dog.

Last week, I was on Vancouver Island in a beautiful area that is now called "Oceanside". It encompasses Qualicum Beach, Parksville and Nanoose Bay. Last May, I started a project "Dogs of Oceanside" where I offered promotional shoots to dog-loving residents and gave 10% to the Parksville-Qualicum SPCA. As I make a book in Vancouver featuring my favourite Dog Art Photography of that year, I decided to make a book for Oceanside which will be launched early December 2012. I went back last week to photograph more dogs and have enough material for the book. And, of course, hear more stories.

One of the most beautiful and heart-warming shoots from this segment of Dogs of Oceanside 2012 was with Lloyd and Sacha. Lloyd booked with me weeks before when I was in Vancouver but then suddenly had to cancel because of illness. I was very happy when he was able to re-book his shoot as I could tell that it was something that meant a lot to him.

Lloyd and his wife got Sacha when he was 5 from a small dog rescue organization. Sacha had been given up by his previous owners who decided they wanted a purebred and Sacha was apparently not pure enough. How could someone give up a dog they had had for 5 years? Unfortunately, I am told sad stories about human nature through people's lives through their dogs as well.

Lloyd says that when Sacha raises his paw in this way, he is thinking deeply about something!
How could someone give him up?

But Sacha was soon adopted by Lloyd and his wife and cherished. Sacha was Lloyd's wife's pride and joy; he went everywhere with her and was often on her lap. I am not surprised! Look at that face and that soft teddy-bear body! And a most divine swishy tail ...

Sacha never goes right on the beach. He and Lloyd are happy promenading on the sea wall. But, of course, I wanted the textures of the beach for the background. Sacha had a good time and was probably wondering what was going on.

Here is Sacha on the Qualicum Beach promenade ... off-leash though. I talked Lloyd into taking off his leash. I don't really like leashes in pictures and often Photoshop them out ... Another first for the precious Sacha: the beach then off-leash on his promenade!

Tragically, Lloyd's wife passed away a few years after Sacha entered their lives. I think it is more difficult for a husband to out-live his wife than the other way around. It seems that most women are better able to deal with old-age, dramatic life changes and even being alone. You can tell Lloyd really misses his wife. But his face lights up like a boy's when he talks about his dog. Sacha has various cookie rituals at night and he and Lloyd have a variety of friends that Sacha particularly likes visiting. If you say "You want to go to Lorne's?", his ears perk and head cocks to the side.

This is one of my favourite Dog Portraits. The sweet disposition, innocence and comforting nature of Sacha is communicated through his trusting up-turned face and the gentle flow of his tail.

Lloyd is a tall rather gruff looking man; he seems stern when you first meet him and doesn't smile easily. It is like you have to earn the softening of his face. But, when he picks up Sacha, it is with such tenderness that it melts your heart. I am sure that his love for Sacha is also connected to his love for his wife; it is like she lives in his loving little dog. And, when Lloyd cradles him in the palms of his large hands, Sacha is the most precious.