Behind the scenes with Buster, The Coffee Dog (Dogs of Asheville Calendar 2014)

Now that the calendar has been launched and at least a thousand copies have been purchase, mailed and gifted – I’d love to share with you some behind the scenes shots that didn’t make the cut for the calendar. Before I share, let me back up the truck and share a little bit of detail about how the calendar came together.

Almost exactly a year ago, my creative partner Jenna (owner of Patton Avenue Pet Company in Asheville, NC) and I sat down and started brainstorming concepts for this calendar. We wanted something that was going to take the world by storm and we wanted it to be unlike any other calendar out there. We also wanted it to be a fund raiser for Brother Wolf Animal Rescue and we felt that it was absolutely important that this be a labor of love and not profit for us.  Coming into the meeting, I knew that I had always wanted to do a calendar of some sort but I had no experience. Naturally I was pretty nervous about creating a project of this scope.  As time went on, it became one of the most important and (eventually the most stressful) projects of my entire year…but I’m getting ahead of myself. At the meeting, Jenna had the brilliant idea of creating each month based on certain things that we loved about Asheville. Since we were in a coffee shop at the time, the first month that popped into our heads had to do with coffee. We knew that this was going to be a rescue calendar and we knew that we loved at least 12 things about Asheville – so the next logical step was how to incorporate Asheville, Coffee, and Dogs. Looking around, we saw such amazing culture in the people that were enjoying the coffee and our concept was born. Coffee Dog.

We also knew that we wanted this calendar to be all about the dogs who needed homes through Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, but we knew that some of the concepts that we wanted to capture were going to be difficult for dogs who didn’t know us as friends. Since my dog Buster is a rescue from Brother Wolf, we decided to test our coffee dog concept with Buster. Even though he was already adopted, he was incredibly laid back and didn’t have a problem with wearing a hat, glasses and a flannel shirt. (Yes, he’s a pretty incredible dog.) After a trip to Goodwill for props, we went back to the very same coffee shop were our project was born and began shooting.

Now, I’m not sure how many of you have tried to get a shot of your dogs doing something really cute and ended up getting something less than spectacular but my guess is a few of you. I was no exception. We had several different plans on how to get the shot we wanted, but found out that it was a bit more difficult that I had imagined! By the way, safety is my number one concern so we had a few assistants on hand to make sure that Buster was comfortable and not stressed. Once he got comfortable and realized that the coffee mug had some really high value treats in it, we were ready to shoot! As I started shooting, I realized that even my precious dog who was perfect in every way – had to blink, turn his head, scratch his shoulder, roll over, get more treats, sneeze, kiss the assistants and want more treats again (all at the same time!)  I realized that patience was the answer and we just relaxed and had some fun. Mission accomplished!

Once I got back to the office to look at the proofs, I saw that in some cases, the out-takes were WAY more funny than the final shot. I’ll let you look through these and see for yourself. By the way, many many thanks to Waking life Espresso in West Asheville for hosting our very first calendar shoot. They were very gracious in letting us shoot there and they have some really excellent coffee. I’ll share more behind the scenes shots for each month as time goes on. Some of them are absolute doozies!

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Kohl needs your help

I got a call yesterday from a fabulous foster mom asking if she could stop by the studio for some pictures of her foster dog. You know I’m always ready to help with a free mini-session for foster parents of Brother Wolf Animal Rescue dogs so of course I said, ABSOLUTELY!  As the foster mom was sharing this dog’s background, I discovered a heartbreaking story  and I’d like to share it with all of you. It turns out that Kohl was slated for euthanasia and a foster family came through last minute to save his life, (of course I cheered when I heard this…) but as he was being checked out at the vet, they discovered a growth on his foot. After testing, he was determined to have cancer and the toes would have to be removed. I HATE hearing about stories where the dog had been saved only to find out he might die after all. After hearing all about this dog, I had the pleasure of meeting Kohl this morning and instantly fell in love! He’s a little over 10 months old, but he hasn’t lost his puppy playfulness. He was sweet and adventurous and LOVED my chicken treats. I’m having a really hard time thinking about the fact that he will lose his toes and possibly his entire leg or quite possibly his life. The good news is that he is young and will recover and go on to life a full and happy life. The bad news is that he needs funds to pay for his treatment and surgery. Brother Wolf Animal Rescue has stepped in to help and is willing to help with his surgery through their “Help me Heal” campaign, but they need funds to be able to pay for the entire surgery. They are asking for cash donations to help pay for Kohl’s treatment and that’s where you come in. If you can help donate (no matter how small the contribution is), they would greatly appreciate it! I would love to see Kohl get the help he needs before it’s too late. Please contact and contribute to their “Help me Heal” fund.  I’ll try to follow up with his progress and update you as his treatment continues.

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Ollie and Jonah


It’s been ages since I’ve posted a blog entry, but I couldn’t stand not sharing this session. It was the most delightful session that I’ve had in a long time. I rolled around in the leaves with these dogs for a few hours and had the best time! I think I got a few bug bites too but once I saw the proofs, I totally didn’t mind the itchy spots. Without any further ado, I give you Ollie and Jonah.



IfProject PhotoTrain for October 2013

Today’s Project PhotoTrain was an adventure! I always love the challenges with shelter photography but it always breaks my heart to think that these are the dogs that someone didn’t want. I understand that sometimes, circumstances dictate that a human family has to move and leave the family pet behind. Sometimes, the human passes away. Sometimes, the dog breaks free and runs away from home. It really doesn’t matter the circumstances but the fact is – they are there waiting for a home. I love having the opportunity to help promote them and tell their story. Today’s Project PhotoTrain was amazing in that I had the pleasure of meeting some of the most beautiful dogs and I get to share some of what makes them beautiful.  Take a look and see for yourself. Each one of them is unique and absolutely gorgeous!

If you are interested in adopting or meeting any of these dogs, I encourage you to contact the Asheville Humane Society. If you adopt one of the PhotoTrain Dogs, you’ll get a complimentary one-on-one dog training session after your new buddy gets settled in and a 5×7 from today’s session with your new companion. Check out these canine gems.




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