Families come in all forms!

What is a family?

To me, it’s a group of individuals who have chosen each other.

It’s as simple as that. There may, or may not, be blood ties. The individuals may, or may not, be the same species.  A group is at least two individuals, but there is no maximum limit.

_DSF3147-webb

 

 

I sometimes feel like I’m blessed with many different families. My family consists of two people and three dogs – that’s the core. But my family is also us five plus parents, siblings, and sibling’s families. And I have friends that are so close I call them family. These are all individuals I have chosen to have in my life because I love them and they make my life a better place. And they have chosen me back – it goes both ways.

Families stick together, help each other, care for each other, and make everyday life easier. They may argue, but they find their way back. They do stuff together because it’s more fun that way.

_DSF9936-webb

The family in these photos is one I met earlier this year. We had two sessions together, and each time I felt happy for days after I met them – their love and affection, respect and care, was contagious.

They have chosen each other, not once, but over and over. All four of them.

_DSF3197-webb

It’s actually kind of amazing.

 

Advertisements

Freedom

At the beginning of this year, my husband and I decided this would be a year of freedom. Six months in, we have accomplished some big things that will give us the freedom we want: I’ve quit my job and am now self-employed, he has changed his job, and we bought a new house and sold the old one (still haven’t moved though).

We call the new house Freedom. It’s really nice to say “Meet you in Freedom!” or “Should we go to Freedom this evening?” or “I and the dogs will be in Freedom Wednesday.”. It’s a small house by the road in the middle of nowhere. Woods surrounds it, and some fields with cows. It’s really quiet and calm.

The garden has once been really beautiful – we think – but has grown wild for some years. Behind the forest is a deforestation, that will be full of birches in a few years.

The hose comes with a garage and a few extra storage-houses (including an outside dry toilet – not in use).

And inside are two rooms and a small bathroom.

That’s it. Freedom. My new home.

Jenny

This weekend I had a shoot with Jenny. I wanted to do something in Game of Thrones-style, and use a friends dogs to be “wolves” (small, but still). I had a clear idea of the final result, and we had a lot of fun trying to achieve the right poses, fight the mosquitos, get the dogs to cooperate, keep the dresses up (a bit too big), and keep little sister busy…

Behind the scenes a shoot can look something like this:

2018-06-26_0001

After about 90 minutes, I had all I wanted and more. Finished result after some work in photoshop to get the fairytale feeling:

_DSF6004-w

_DSF6035-w

_DSF6067-w

_DSF6073-w

_DSF6147-w

_DSF6214-w

And, of course, little sister got a quick portrait 🙂

_DSF6058-w

It’s a lot of fun to get to work with a theme like this! Thank you all those involved in the process!

 

Posing boot-camp

I never pose the people I photograph, I work with moment design and work with the poses that come naturally.

But. I want to be able to pose someone if I have the need, to have the skill! So in order to learn, I searched the internet after a photographer who works like that, and give classes. I found Meg Bitton, and am currently in her Posing Boot-camp.

This week’s assignment is posing a single subject. I borrowed a friend’s daughter yesterday, and got to work – trying to remember all the “do’s” and “don’ts”. My model was absolutely fantastic and tried everything I asked for without hesitation, despite mosquitos and nettles.

_DSF4392-web

Bend, twist, and turn. All limbs visible (at least partly). Hands relaxed.

_DSF4410-web

Take the photo slightly from above, to enhance the eyes.

_DSF4449-web

And remember location! Where is the light? How can I make her stand out?

_DSF4523-web

I love this photo, despite the flaws (her right hand is not placed in a good way). That look…

When I had tried all my ideas – some worked, some most certainly did NOT work, she got to play around a bit on her own:

_DSF4541-web

Really like this pose! Relaxed, with movement, twists and bends for interesting shapes. Hands relaxed.

_DSF4577-web

And this light! All limbs visible, slightly diagonal lines, beautiful.

So far so good! I look forward to more sessions and experiments! And yes, this will be in my repertoire. Soon.

Behind the scenes

My work as a photographer sometimes brings me to new and interesting places, to do new and interesting things. Two weeks ago I went to Gothenburg, to work with Svenska Terapihundskolan (Swedish school for therapy dogs). My assignment was to take photos for their coming book about therapy dogs and their handlers – so much fun!

Sara made me extra happy because she took photos of me working! So you can see what the scene looks like, and then my photo 🙂

It was amazing to see the different dogs and handlers do their magic. Because it’s really magic! The way people relax, smile, open up…

And it’s not only the clients that smile – both the dogs and their handlers really love their work. The dogs are work colleagues and respected as such, never a “tool” to use. The dogs love their work, they may be trained in certain tricks or moves, but I think that what really moves the clients is that the dogs are having a really good time.

As a dog trainer, I also loved the nice and neat training that took place. All training is 100% reward-based. The clients love giving the dogs treats, and the handlers make sure that all clients know how to treat a dog nicely. No matter the age of the client.

And as there is a wide variety of clients, from children’s hospitals to elderly care facilities, the dog (and handler) get to work with the type of humans they love the most. Some are really calm and cuddly and love to just hang out and get cuddled with. Others like a bit more action, and work well with school children. There’s a place for everyone!

The book will be released in December. Worth waiting for!

Train your model-dog to be close

Today I met one of my best friends and her beautiful dog. The task was, in addition to talking a lot and take a walk together, to take some portraits of her and her dog.

Scout is a well-trained dog, and they have a strong relationship built on trust. The only problem that occurred was when I wanted to take a close-up, with their faces close together. “That is not done!” said Scout. “I know how to kiss and cuddle, but cheek to cheek? Why?!”

After a few meatballs and some patience and training we got the shot:

_DSF1454-webb

You can tell from her ears that this is weird. It’s OK but still weird.

I always find it interesting when dogs react on things I want them to do in photos. My thought is always: “How can I make this enjoyable for the dog?” No photo is worth making a dog do something it’s not OK with, and I NEVER force a dog in a photo shoot.

My own dogs have a dad that always cuddle lots with them, even more than I do, and he has taught the dogs to press cheek against cheek. It can look a bit violent at times when Valle, the middle dog, is a little too eager and slams his cheek against my husbands poor head, but normally it’s a really cute trick.

21761492_10154969787783589_1003285188173016808_n

He is so going to hate me for posting this terrible photo…But you get the idea! My husband and Midori.

All my dogs do a version of this trick. Here’s me and my Old Lady:

webb-0540

Mårran likes to really add some weight and press hard!

It’s the dog that puts her face against mine. Because she wants a cuddle, or – in the case of Valle – to get something he wants. I use no force. Of course, if your dog is comfortable with being held, you can gently hold its face against yours. Just be careful – if the dog isn’t comfortable you will lose the attitude. Bad photo, and a bad experience – it’s just not worth it!

So it’s a trick. A target-trick. My dogs all know how to target nose against hand, nose against post-it-note, put their chin on the floor (or table…or sofa…) and that made it easy to teach cheek against cheek.

Do you want to teach this to your own dog? Start with a nose-touch. I love Emily Larlhams videos on Kikopup, so here’s how she does it:

It’s quite easy to teach them, and it’s fun! When they get the basic nose-touch it can be a little harder to get them to understand how to do it with other body parts, but time, patience, a bit of shaping, and a lot of treats make it a perfect winter project 😉

How to create a photo collage

I like to make collages with multiple photos, I think they tell the story and often give each other a context.

 

2017-03-23_0001

Susanna, Fajsty and Dupont

I use Blogstomp to make my collages, and find it easy to use and love the results (and I get absolutely nothing for saying that, they don’t even know it).

However, there are two pages that offer free collages:

Pixlr is easy to use. The result is OK, but I find that it is a bit limited.

Canva has a free basic editor that is a little bit harder to use but more versatile, and you can upgrade to get even better results.

 

2017-03-01_0001

Midori, Princess of kelpies

 

A collage can be a diptych with only two photos, or it can be as many photos as you like.

 

There are a few things to consider when you choose your photos, if you want the collage to actually tell a story and not only be a row of photos. I always try to get a mix of landscape and portrait orientation (horizontal or vertical), and I always try to mix details with overviews, and action with portraits.

If there is a “timeline” (beginning and end) I try to make that easy to read – normally we start to read at the upper left corner and finish at the lower right corner. Think comic book.

Most of the time I just try to get the “perfect look”. I think about the composition, and try to keep the viewer “active” and lead the eye from photo to photo but never out from the frame. I also try to keep nice lines, and colours that o together. The photos should look as a coherent collection.

 

2017-04-07_0001

My beautiful colleague, Maria Hallin.

 

When you try it yourself – change places of your photos until it feels “right”! It can take some time, but it’s worth it.

How to take a self-portrait with your dog

I think EVERYBODY should have a portrait of you with your dog! You have the option of hiring a photographer (excellent choice!), asking a friend (can turn out absolutely fabulous or really bad), or taking the photo yourself: a self-portrait. That’s what I have done today.

 

webb-0540

Mårran and me

 

I make a difference between “selfie” and “self-portrait” in this blog post. Of course, a selfie IS a self-portrait, of a special kind! And I love a good, funny, original selfie! I don’t think it’s less valuable, or easier to take, just different.

The difference is (according to me): “selfie” is when you hold your phone/camera/selfie-stick in your hand, look at yourself in the display, and take the photo. “Self-portrait” is when you make a set-up, place your camera, and use the timer or a remote to take the photo. Advantage: you don’t have to try and hold your camera, and that makes you free to set the scene and pose as you like. Disadvantage: it’s harder to get the focus right, and you can’t see what you are shooting.

When I started photographing I took a lot of self-portraits. I was the only model around, I had no choice if I wanted to photograph humans! Then I got bored with my appearance and started shooting other things instead. Dogs mostly. But I gained valuable experience – and I will share my simple setup that I have used ever since.

  1. Choose your location and camera settings to get the effect you want.
  2. Place the camera on a tripod (or a chair or table).
  3. Put something at the spot where you are going to be. Whatever.
  4. Focus your camera on that thing, and then switch to manual focus. That way your camera will stay focused at the same distance.
  5. Press 10-second timer or use a remote.
  6. Place yourself where the thing was. Strike a pose (vogueing is optional). Wait for the click, or press the remote.
  7. Check how the photo turned out, make adjustments, redo as many times a necessary.

 

webb-0522

Midori and me

With a dog, it’s easier – leave out the thing to focus on, instead put your dog where you want it to be, focus on the dog, switch to manual, press the trigger, and join your dog. That is how I did these two 🙂

I have one photo missing: Valle and me. That is because Valle does not like it when I get too close. He likes to be close to me – but it has to be his choice, and he has to be the one closing in. I will need another person holding the camera for that photo!

I challenge you: take a self-portrait with your dog. Do it now. It may take a few tries to get a good shot – but it’s worth it. I mean, it’s going to be a portrait of you and your dog!

That. Is. Priceless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will your dog live forever?

Of course not. That, I think, is the one mistake God made when he made dogs: they don’t live as long as we do…

My eldest dog is 14 years old. I am very aware of the fact that she will not live forever. But I find comfort in the fact that her memory will stay alive, and as long as anyone remembers her she is not really gone.

mårran 3

Why do I think about this today? Because yesterday I was reminded that not only old dogs eventually leave us – freak accidents happen and my dog can grow wings and cross the rainbow bridge at any time. I know this. But the risk of it happening is small, and I don’t think about it. I mean – anything can happen. I could die today. That does not mean I should be afraid of death, but rather that I should embrace life.

But in one aspect I do think about it, perhaps only in my subconscious mind: I photograph my dogs. A lot. For sure every week, and almost every day.

Because one of my dogs, my Jack Russel Terrier, is already waiting for me on the other side – and I have found a great comfort and joy in looking at pictures of her!

SONY DSC

Photos trigger my memory, and my feelings.

As a dog photographer, I sometimes photograph old dogs. I talk to the owner about the dog’s personality, and then I try to capture some of that personality in a photograph. I always work extra hard, because I know how important that photo may be in a few years time. Or maybe just a few weeks.

 

SONY DSC

Sometimes it’s the love and affection in a look.

 

_DSF6487-w

Sometimes we find the playfulness from younger years.

 

 

 

 

_DSF8425

Sometimes dignity and wisdom shine through.

 

33396_401441703588_1130087_n

And sometimes it’s the love for that sunny spot on the floor.

 

 

How may photos do you have to remember your dog by?

Get some more.

The joy of snapshots and an imperfect life

Some of my all time favourite photos are bad photos. Messy background, really poor light, blurry…But I love them anyway because I love the content.

19424162_10154742052473589_3402062863671575456_n

The faces…the faces! ❤

So I use the camera on my phone a lot. A Lot! To capture the moments that are Life.

 

gris

Happy Esther!

I print them and put them in my journal because they make me happy. Or I keep them in my wallet.

 

morgonjogg

Mårran, on a morning walk about five years ago. This morning I searched for her because she got lost in the high grass…Memories!

So…what is this post about?

The quest for perfectionism. And how I really, really, REALLY think that it’s a quest no one should be on. “Perfect” is boring. “Perfect” is blocking our creativity. The quest for “perfect” cripples us, and make us afraid to do anything at all.

 

CYMERA_20140201_151541

One of the few photos I have of my family, that shows us just the way we are, Relaxed. Enjoying each other’s company. Is it a “good” photo? NO! But to me – priceless.

And I think it’s a mindset that goes deeper than photography…

If you are afraid to fail, how do you get the courage to try? And let me tell you a secret: Nobody cares except you! (At least nobody that matters.) People, in general, are forgiving, and they don’t judge you for making a mistake. Most of the time they don’t even get that it’s a mistake at all…

Life is imperfect. Life is about being imperfect, and loving the imperfections. Through the cracks, the light shines in…

So relax. Dip your toes in the water of imperfection (a bit farfetched, I know, but I really wanted to show the photo of Valle dipping his paw…)

SONY DSC

Take a snapshot. Allow yourself to love it. Forget to be perfect. Live.