I’ve been a member of the Spokane Dog Training Club since we got Tyrael, my hard working Border Collie. It’s been quite the learning experience, not just in training him and our new puppy now, Jaina, but with everything the club offers, from simple basic dog manners like heeling and sitting and staying to professional working dog skills like agility, nosework, and obedience, which are skills used in hunting, search and rescue, and disability service dogs. So I’ve actually had some content from SDTC trials for sometime now, but lately it’s garnered some serious interest from more people, and therefore it’s time to share this work.
At the most basic level, I’ve photographed events. It’s a unique challenge for me, considering not only am I videographer but despite being slower than a plane, the dogs being on ground level make background and foreground messes constantly. Another major consideration is the sound of the shutter. While most dogs do not react to it, every now and then there is a dog that will. Sometimes using quiet mode is enough, other times no matter what you do, the shutter click can ruin a dog’s run. And if I don’t know a particular dog’s reactions to those sounds, it makes it all that much easier to switch to what I know best.
Video of course makes no distracting sound, and for me, is a lot more fun to film. While not nearly as cinematic as my normal videography, it’s such a fun challenge to film in a sport style. Since the videos are straight out of the camera, the pressure to have everything correct while recording is intense, as there is no cutting to make the video look nicer. To make this more complicated, I constantly have to adjust focus, since the handler and dog are moving while being relatively much closer to me than my normal telephoto subject, planes.
All in all, the reactions to my work have been the best part, with so many handler being thankful that I’m there and have offered my footage to them. It’s becoming an all too familiar story of the “other” photographers who take all the pictures and videos and never share with the presenters who made the images possible. So finally at the end of the day we get to what was the initial reason I was asked to come photograph at these events, the official trial photo for a handler and their awards.
The number of rules and traditions to these images is staggering. Yet another reason I’m glad I found SDTC, as I constantly have had advice from members on how to compose to helping squeak a toy to keep the dogs attention at the camera. I’m happy to that despite the rigidity, I still have managed to innovate a little, as I have constantly heard how great the title graphic on the looks.
With more shows coming, I’m sure I’ll be there filming.