Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Holiday pet projects: Family portraits are going to the dogs

Looking on in proud-mother style, LeAnn Ebersviller watched last week as her little bundle of energy, Lily, chewed on fake snow, pounced playfully at the camera and finally, miraculously, sat still.


Looking on in proud-mother style, LeAnn Ebersviller watched last week as her little bundle of energy, Lily, chewed on fake snow, pounced playfully at the camera and finally, miraculously, sat still.

The photo shoot, one of 51 during Adopt-A-Pet's "Picture Your Pet" fund-raiser Nov. 16 at PETCO, was the third in five months for the 6-month-old springer spaniel.

Having pets professionally photographed, either with the family or alone, seems to be getting more popular, local photography studio employees said. And no time is busier for animals than the winter holiday season.

"We do a ton of pet photos," said Rebecca Larson, a saleswoman for Monarch Photo.

Dogs are by far the most commonly photographed animals, but they're not the only ones. Birds, ferrets, rabbits and gerbils are some of the more exotic subjects shot by local photographers.


For scene-setting, children's props double nicely for pets, said Tara O'Connell, a photographer for Linda Kaye Photography. Owners sometimes like to dress up their pet, too, especially during Halloween, Larson said.

To accommodate all of its animal requests, Assignment Photography has partnered with PETCO for the past five years. The studio sets up shop at the store periodically throughout the year for weekend photo shoots, sometimes drawing close to 100 customers, said Bruce Danuser, owner of Assignment Photography.

Animals seem to enjoy the store's atmosphere better than the studio's unfamiliar setting, Danuser said.

Assignment Photography's PETCO event has been so popular this year that Danuser added an extra day to its winter shoot, which will now be held Dec. 6-8.

Interested owners can call ahead to schedule a $20 session, the price of which includes the sitting fee, one picture package and two charitable donations. For every session, $5 goes to both the Red River Zoo and the PETCO Foundation to help fund community animal groups.

Adopt-A-Pet began regularly scheduling its "Picture Your Pet" event about three years ago to help fund its nonprofit work. All money raised by the $10 sessions goes to the charity, which finds foster homes for neglected animals and pays for their food and medical expenses until adoption.

After each session, the owner gets a floppy disk with about a dozen digital photos that they can print or e-mail. Adopt-A-Pet also prints a photo of the owners' choice.

Lynn Severson, Adopt-A-Pet's president and resident photographer, said her customers don't care that there isn't a professional behind the camera.


"People have not minded at all," she said.

In fact, the last two "Picture Your Pet" events boasted record turnouts. Portraits from the event, which also helps promote the group's bi-weekly adoption days at PETCO, can be found online at www.adoptapetfm.org .

Some local studios, including Assignment Photography, will photograph pets at their own place any time during the year. At Linda Kaye Photography, more people are bringing in pets to be photographed alone, O'Connell said.

More often than not, those owners don't have children.

"The dogs are their kids," O'Connell said.

And, like kids, some pets are easier to handle than others.

Fortunately for photographers, though, kids don't come in litters.

Danuser once had a couple bring in two children, two cats and eight kittens for a family portrait. In situations like those, Danuser said, "you find you're capable of making a lot of strange noises."


"It's an attention game," he said. "You have to get down to their level."

Once all the coaxing and camera work is done, owners choose how they want to show off their pets.

With digital cameras, Larson said, photographers can superimpose different backgrounds, like a hunting scene, or even include a photo of a deceased pet.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Forster at (701) 241-5538

What To Read Next
Get Local