Heather Bohm-Tallman, dog photographer

photo

Pretty much everyone with a dog -- or any pet, for that matter -- has probably taken their fair share of dog pictures. It's not like three million plus photos on Flickr have been tagged "dog" by accident. But we'd never heard of anyone having their dog professionally photographed.

Then we came across Heather Bohm-Tallman, a photographer from the Saratoga area who shoots weddings, events and... dogs. "Really?" we thought, "That's kind of cool. And maybe a little weird. We gotta talk to her."

So we emailed Heather a bunch of questions and she was nice enough to answer...

Heather Bohm-TallmanHow'd you get started taking pictures of dogs?

I started shooting my senior year in high school. My first subject was my dog Chubby. It wasn't till about 10 years later that I started taking my dog photography more seriously. I have a documentary photography background and while working on "serious" subjects I found myself very distracted by taking images of dogs on the side... that's when I realized that photographing dogs was not just a hobby for me and it was OK to take it seriously too.

How do you go about capturing the personality of a dog?

Every dog is different. I do get a little background from the dogs' human companions on what their personalities are like. Mostly I just do my thing... hang out with the dog and shoot. I typically photograph dogs in an environment they're used to, their backyard or a favorite walking spot. This way they stay relaxed and aren't too distracted by new smells.

Is it hard to get the dogs to pose or do what you need them to do in order to get a shot?

The only time I pose a dog is if I see a funky spot for them to be, that they normally wouldn't, and they are willing to be put there... in an Adirondack chair for instance. Or if there's an area that has some beautiful light or cool foliage to use in the composition. Not every dog will sit and stay though so it's not always an option.

Who's more photogenic: dogs or people?

They both are! I will say one of the pleasures of photographing dogs is that they don't care what they look like.

Some people might say that a photo session for their dog is going a little too far, that it might be a little indulgent. What do you think about that?

For some people it may be but these people are not my clients. Not everyone has children these days, but have pets who they adore. To them a beautiful portrait or a book showcasing their dog is a very important memento. Unfortunately our dog's life spans are not very long and having these images is a vivid way to remember them. Not to say people with children do not include their dogs as a family member... when there are children they usually get in some of the shots too.

Where's your favorite place to shoot in the Capital Region?

I've been here 4 years now so I'm still exploring but I'd have to say downtown Saratoga has lots of cool little nooks to shoot in... plus Congress Park is right there if you want a little green.

You also shoot weddings -- which are more fun: dogs or weddings?

Weddings are a totally different ball of wax. I don't think the two can be compared. A dog session last about an hour in which time we're just hanging out together in backyard or taking a walk. It's typically very low key and relaxed.

Weddings involve lots of preparation and are usually an 8-12 hour day. There's lots more images to capture than the portraits. Getting ready, the ceremony, the reception... It can be very tiring but I feel extremely privileged to be the one to capture such an important event in people's lives.

_____________

You can check out a whole bunch of Heather's photos of dogs -- and people -- at her site. And don't miss her blog.

photo of the dog: Heather Bohm-Tallman
photo of Heather: Saratoga Photo Booth

Comments

It was so great to see a story about Heather and her dog photography. It's true that most people think a photo session for their dog is going a bit too far, but being one of Heathers' clients and an avid dog lover and owner myself, I say nonsense! We all indulge in the things we love and I happen to love my dog. He is like a child in so many ways and brings a ton of joy and laughter to my life. Her photos have captured the many sides of his personality that I will hold close in my heart long after he is gone. (see her blog- Manny's "Tough guy" and I'm so cute" looks) I have taken a number of photos of my dog, but none have captured his personality half as much as Heather's photos of him have. Thank You Heather!

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