Santa Paws ~ Part 1

I have photographed Santa Paws in stores for rescue in the past. Its a hard task for photographers. People want thier dogs to look "happy" and care free. But in reality it's a stressful time for dogs. They have been shuffled into a crazy crowded store with little room. This man in a red suit is reaching for them, dogs are barking, dogs are stressed, people are stressed and a photographer is flashing this bright light at them.

I'm not saying there are not good Santa Paws portraits. There are and some dogs are social butterflys. But if you look at this photo of Molly & LittleBit. One dogs ears are back and the other dog is panting ... both signs of stressed dogs. Ears, eyes and panting are big giveaways that dogs are not comfortable with what is happening. The other thing I see (not in this photo) is whale eyes or half moons. When we see the white sad eyes, we think … "Awe so cute". Look up dog body language and it is fear!


Store events are stressful for the photographer too. Its production work for us. Some photographers print photos on the spot and some email the photos. But after the few hours at a store event, the photographer is spending "many hours or days" editing and sorting thru photos. Unless they print on spot and leave leashes in.


Photographers are creative people. Our photography is our "art" and its more than just snapping a photo of a dog with a man in a red suit. A seasoned and professional photographer knows a tad bit more about photography and also dog body language. So I came up with the idea of clients dressing up as Santa with thier dogs at home. The dogs are in thier own environment and comfortable. They just have to get used of thier parent in a Red Fat Man Costume.


This is Miss Ryker, a purebred American Bull Dog. She is a BIG gal !! (I think I am safe to say close to 115 pounds) I always have to quote her Mom... she calls her "LARGE MARGE". Regardless of her pounds, she is BIG. She loves her Mom and is very protective. She is not the dog that can go into these crowded stores, with many people and other dogs. There is nothing wrong with that! Ryker needs to be in her enviroment, her land, her people and her place.


I have photographed Ryker multiple times at her home and I know that beautiful bully face is NOT stressed and she is waiting for the treat that is being held up!!



Photographing at home, you can get a little more creative with photographs. Its loads of fun for the humans and the dogs.


Look at Mister, another beautiful bully. No leash, in his yard and that's his Mom by the way!


At home you can do many poses. Get creative and throw in props.


Even have both pet parents dress up as Mr & Mrs Santa Claus.




I photograph "hundreds" of dogs and some cannot even get close to me. I have photographed thru fences! I'm okay with that. But being at home is much more relaxed for the dogs and thier people. (& the photographer) It's not a production event and the session is customized. But there are mishaps and that is going to be in Santa Paws Part 2 & its funny! But here are a few more photos of these beautiful bullies !








sandrafergusonphotography@yahoo.com | 901-626-1102 | Memphis, Tn.

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