What to Expect on Bird Dog Adventures
When I first started photographing dogs in the field, I didn't know WHAT to expect. It wasn't until I had my first session under my belt, that I realized a number of things.
1. You should expect that your backdrop may not be everything you want it to be.
I mean, we are in the woods...in tall brush...in places where half the time you can't even see the dog, because it is working to follow scent or find a downed bird. But, there is always a chance to capture a dog somewhere that will give a good visual for the day, like the dog in the above photo, emerging from a pond and standing a moment to check on the next signal from the owner.
Which brings me to a second expectation.
2. Expect the dog will not be spotlessly clean all the time.
You know those beautiful portraits of dogs staring into the camera with perfect coats and picturesque nature backgrounds? Not happening here. As a photographer, you have to change your mindset a bit while capturing bird dogs.
I always try to capture at least one photo of the owner entering the field with their dog. Most of the time, as photographers, we are on the fringe of the field, wearing bright orange and trying to be mindful of where the dog is, and where the gun is.
I also do a quick visual survey of the location to determine where to (and where not to even bother) watch for dog emergence from thicket and other heavy areas, for a possible photo opportunity.
Once in the field, the dog's coat, if not protected, will pick up whatever brush wants to come along for the ride, so I try to get my planned pictures done earlier in the hunt, rather than later.
3. Expect that dogs will usually be wearing a lot of stuff.
I try to find at least one photo that captures expression and the dog's personality.
In the field, a dog all suited up looks like this.
You need to dress properly, too. I have my own orange vest, a good pair of field boots, a sun hat, and I wear clothing that is impervious to field debris, but dries quickly (LL Bean, Cabela's, or Orvis are great places to find things). I highly recommend THESE BRIAR JEANS. I treat my clothes with a good insect repellent, and carry it and some sunscreen in my camera bag.
Some people ask if bird dogs are mostly setters. The answer is NO.
It truly is an adventure to head out for a day with dogs in the field. While it is hard work, it is also great exercise, and watching these dogs do what they love is good for the soul.
Click Into the Circle
I am part of a weekly blogging group of professional pet photographers located all over the planet. To see what others have blogged about in this week's topic (outdoor adventures), start here with Southeast Wisconsin dog photographer Jan Bezzo of Shadow Dog Photography, as she shares the 21 best dog-friendly hiking trails in Wisconsin.
Then find the link at the end of each blog to click on to the next photographer.
If you are interested in scheduling a session in the field with your hunting dog, there is no time like the present to get it on the calendar! Happy hunting!