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Sunday, May 1, 2016


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More and more, families are choosing to make pets part of their portraits. Kellie, Jessie and Tracy Menzel snuggle up with their Boston Terrier, Pepper.
Family portraiture is a lot different these days than it used to be.

Time was, a family portrait was Mom, Dad and the kids all dressed up in their Sunday best. Sometimes the portrait was taken in the family's home in front of a fireplace; other times everyone traveled to a studio.

Today, families are more apt to request portraits that are casual in nature -- depictions of parents and children strolling along beaches wearing shorts and t-shirts or the whole family sitting under a tree in their yard.

Not only have the settings for portraiture changed; so have the line-ups. More and more, photographers get requests to photograph pets.

Sometimes people want photographs of just their pets, but more often they want the pets to be part of a group shot.

"Every once in a while I do get people who ask me to shoot their pets," said Amber Bowers Hecko, a Greencastle-based professional photographer. "But most of the time I get people who want their pictures taken with their animals."

Putnam County is a fairly rural area, so those animals tend to be more than just dogs and cats.

"I've photographed high school seniors with their horses, cats, and even a rooster," Hecko said. "It's not always easy photographing animals, but it's always fun."

Beth Legan and Nick Tharp made their horses a central part of their wedding photos.
Judy Wilson, who owns Wilson's Photography in Greencastle with her husband, Lester, has done many portraits of 4-H'ers with their animals.

"I've shot rabbits, lambs and chickens," she said. "I draw the line with reptiles ... although Lester did shoot an alligator in here one time."

Wilson said she and her husband often go on location to shoot larger animals.

Greencastle resident June Brattain and her late husband Doc had formal portraits taken of their English Springer Spaniels, Dude and Scout. The dogs were 7 and 10 years old when this portrait was taken.
"Obviously, if someone wants their picture with their horses we can't really bring them into the studio," she said.

Hecko admitted that she has had animals in her photo shoots that didn't want to cooperate.

"The challenge is usually to get them to look at the camera," she said.

Wilson has found that sometimes animals are more cooperative subjects than people.

"The dogs behave better than some of the kids," she said. "The trick is to get their attention and have them not come to you when you squeak the toy to get them to look at you. But you have those problems with 2-year-olds, too."

Wilson said she would never tell a family that wanted to have its pets in a portrait that they couldn't.

"Pets are just such a part of the family for some people," said said.

A couple of years ago, Greencastle resident June Brattain asked Hecko to recreate a photo that had been taken of her English Springer Spaniels Scout and Dude.

"They were sitting on a trunk," Hecko said. "They were really good dogs, and they behaved really well. I don't know how well the picture would have worked if they hadn't."

Scout and Dude are now 9 and 12 years old. Scout is named after Brattain's grandmother, whose nickname was Scout ("I discovered that after coming across some postcards from 1903," Brattain said), and Dude was named after a pop song -- sort of.

"My kids really liked the Beatles," Brattain said with a chuckle. "So I named him after a Beatles song. I didn't know it was 'Hey, Jude.' I thought they were saying 'Hey, Dude.' My kids didn't believe me, but I really did."

Scout and Dude are the second set of English Springer Spaniels Brattain and her late husband Doc, who passed away in November 2009, owned. The photo they commissioned Hecko to take was meant to be identical to one that had been taken of the dogs the couple owned prior to Scout and Dude.

The first photo was given to the Brattains as a surprise gift. Doc Brattain was a veterinarian for many years, and one year when the Brattains went to a veterinary convention the staff at the kennel where they left their dogs had the photo taken.

"It was gorgeous," Brattain said. "We thought the trunk they were sitting on was my husband's Army trunk, but it wasn't."

The trunk Scout and Dude are sitting on in their photo is, however.

Hecko wasn't sure how Scout and Dude's shoot would go, so she planned on a large block of time to do it.

"We took them in on their leashes, brought in the trunk and told them just how to sit," Brattain said. "They did it, and we were in and out of there in probably 10 minutes."

Both photos now hang in the Brattain home.

"They're so photogenic," Brattain said.

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Wilson's Does a great job with the pets Love their work :)

-- Posted by JrsWife on Wed, Jan 12, 2011, at 11:03 AM

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