If you follow ballwalkpark on facebook or instagram, you already know this, i take A LOT of pictures. I always have, whether it be of dogs, friends, things, whatever. I have always felt the need to have a camera in my hand to capture whatever it is I am seeing and share with others. Over the years, I have become a bit obsessed with taking pictures of my dogs, and I recently asked myself why I have over 30,000 pictures of dogs and what is really the point of all of this. I realized that to me, taking pictures is much more than just reporting back to clients.
I take pictures because:
1. I love it. I absolutely love it. I hate to say this, but I take them for myself more than my clients. I love watching the relationships between dogs in my pack develop over time, I love looking back and seeing how much my puppies have grown up, and I love laughing at the pictures! I remember one night I was sitting on the couch with Michael, he was watching tv and I was going through my pictures of the day. I couldn't stop laughing and would interrupt him every 30 seconds because he had to see this one. He does a really good job of acting interested and has perfected the courtesy laugh, but he finally asked me how it was possible that I never got sick of looking at dog pictures. It really hadn't occurred to me before. I see them as being completely different dogs, different relationships, different circumstances, etc. Apparently I'm easily amused, but whatever the reason, I truly love taking these pictures.
2. My clients love it. Dog walking is a funny thing in that I meet with a new client, they give me a key to their house, then I go on and develop this whole relationship with their dog and they are rarely ever see me again. For all they know, they could have just sent their doberman out to prance around with a pack of chihuahuas in pink coats. I love the community my clients have built on my facebook page. I love that they have come to know each other's dogs and comment on them. They all track the progress of new puppies and send well wishes for pups with injuries. It's such a fun little community that wouldn't exist if these pictures didn't illustrate the relationship their dogs have built within the pack at the dog park.
3. I learn so much from these pictures! Things happen fast at the dog park and as attentive as I can be, I have come to rely on these pictures to tell me even more about the interactions that are happening right in front of my eyes. There have been so many times that two dogs are playing seemingly fine, and I look at pictures later and see a look of pure terror in one dogs eyes. Or conversely, today, I thought Jambo and Achilles were playing a bit too rough and I was concerned Achilles was bullying Jambo. I was closely monitoring their play, but when I looked back at pictures, every single time Jambo was going back for more. I could obviously see this while it was happening, but the pictures confirmed Jambo's body language that he was relaxed, happy and showed no signs of stress. This is also how I found out that our sweet little angel, Bambi, had a bit of teenage angst inside. Before this picture we thought little Violet was the one terrorizing Bam! When the dogs are playing and wrestling, they are moving so fast and making so many strange noises (especially the frenchies) it's impossible to get as close of a look as you would from a picture. Dogs use body language for so much of their communication that it only makes sense to freeze those moments in time and take a closer look. Of course these moments are in the past, but since I have a consistent group of dogs going together, it helps me understand the development of relationships amongst the pack. There are definitely times when the expressions are misleading, like when Bonita and Jambo are wrestling and I catch a picture of the vicious golden teeth. In real life, they really aren't playing that rough and they aren't vampires, they just make for great action shots :) There is no scientific or behavioral based evidence behind any of this at all, but it's just my thoughts on why I find taking pictures so valuable.
I spend hours a day going through pictures, I take about 500 pictures a day. During the summer, I take my phone out into the water with me and everyone asks if I worry that I will ruin it. Of course I do, and I have ruined a couple, but for me, the risk of taking it out and getting those pictures is worth it for the rewards I get from these pictures.
I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoy taking them!