After noodling on this idea for two long years (pun definitely intended! 🤣), I’m thrilled to share the outcome of that effort. It stands as my second most ambitious endeavor to date. (For the other four, check out the links below.)
Kenna, seen as “Tramp” here, may appear as a mixed breed, but she’s a four year old purebred Bearded-Coated Border Collie. Beyond indulging in spaghetti for this photography session she excels in Rally Obedience and Agility, and her favorite pastimes include watching TV, with a preference for cartoons, shows featuring animals (especially horses!), and football. It was revealed post-session that she has a sound sensitivity, making the alley location challenging, but her desire to please outshone any discomfort she may have felt due to the sound amplification. A true testament to her character.
Roo, aka “Lady”, is an eight year old male field-bred Cocker Spaniel. (Yes, this session embraced a bit of gender fluidity as the dogs took on the roles of the opposite sex. 😊) Roo’s Mom prepared him for the session by feeding him spaghetti and teaching him to take it gently. And boy could he eat spaghetti!!! He was a little Hoover. A true mama’s boy, his owner stayed just out of frame for most of the images.
Before delving into the behind-the-scenes details, a massive shoutout to Kenna’s and Room’s moms! Connected through my online call for dogs resembling Lady & the Tramp, they took a chance on me – a photographer they didn’t know, and traveled over an hour for this quirky idea that has been brewing in my mind for years. They are the true MVPs of this image, and I couldn’t have pulled it off without them! 👏🏻
How did I bring this image to life? I scouted locations in the Town of Parker, Colorado, and settled on a charming alley on Main Street with a brick wall reminiscent of the movie scene; I sought permission from the nearby businesses to avoid any disruptions of their day-to-day activities. After procuring a bottle of chianti in a straw basket and crafting the candle so it appeared aged, I improvised a table using a Bosu ball and a plastic tub (suggested by my creative hubby Ken). The hunt for breadsticks proved unexpectedly challenging (I had to go to THREE stores!), and a last minute decision to create string light canopy (which was an utter fail) were also time consuming. Then there was the frantic last minute preparation of spaghetti, meatballs, and breadsticks before heading out the door.
The behind the scenes (BTS) look of how I created it:
In case it isn’t obvious, this is a composite. 😊 To avoid the risk of putting two unfamiliar dogs in front of a plate of food, I photographed them independently and combined the images in Photoshop later. (Honestly, even if they were best buds and it was safe to let them eat together, there was pretty much no chance of getting the right interaction between them with the right angle, thus the need for a composite.) My camera was on a tripod to maintain a consistent field of view, and I used a remote shutter release to trigger the shutter. Lighting included a 20” gridded modifier on a light for the main, and a blue gelled light on the background. (In hindsight, I should have skipped the backlight – it gave everything a green cast that I adjusted in post processing.) After I took “boring” photos of the table, candle, breadsticks, and single droopy noodles, the real fun started with the dogs. We took turns, and I fed them each single strands of spaghetti, trying/hoping to the get the right angle. Part way through the session, my remote had a tantrum and would only intermittently fire, so the dog moms took turns feeding the spaghetti and I managed my shutter manually. That worked MUCH better – I was able to see and advise feeding technique on the fly. The dogs got along very well, so to conclude the session (under close supervision) we placed both dogs in front of the heaping plate, delivering a hilarious reversal of roles - Kenna (Tramp) was very ladylike in her consumption, whereas Roo (Lady) totally DUG in.
These are the images used in the composite:
While the resulting photo is a testament to the delightful and fun-filled session, it differed from my typical dog photography sessions. This felt more like a production, and unfortunately I couldn’t connect with the dogs as deeply as I usually do. Nevertheless, I cherish the outcome. If I ever decide to play director again, are there other iconic dog-based movie scenes you’d suggest for recreation? Drop your ideas in the comments!
And for those unfamiliar with Disney’s 1955 animated film “Lady and the Tramp”, follow this link to watch the enchanting Bella Notte scene.
Additional unedited spaghetti-eating images from the session:
Biggest photography effort #1
“Menagerie Managed”, September 2020
Why it was challenging: scheduling all the guardians within a week, luring the wanted behaviors out of each of the animals, processing all the cross-overs, and doing it a week after our sweet Kola passed while I was still emotionally raw (thus the empty box with her bed 🥺😭). I wasn’t blogging at the time, but you might be able to glean more info from my submission to 52Frames.
Biggest photography effort #3
“Dogtopia”, September 2021
Why it was challenging: coordinating schedules, piecing together how I wanted the final image to appear, and doing it digitally once I had the order figured out on paper. Again, before I was blogging, but you can see more info about it on my 52Frames submission.
Biggest photography effort #4
“Spark Salutation”, June 2020
Why it was challenging: I’d never attempted light painting before and it was tricky getting all the technical aspects working together at the same time as the artistic side, it was dark and I couldn’t see my equipment, we were wet and getting swarmed by bugs. Again, before I was blogging, but you can see more info about it on my 52Frames submission.
Biggest photography effort #5
“Mischief Managed”, October 2022
Why it was challenging: Puppies are wiggly! 🤣 They aren’t as susceptible to food luring as older dogs, and since they were at an impressionable age, we needed to take extra time & care to make sure the experience was an enjoyable one. It is another composite, and piecing it together just-so took quite a bit of time. You can read more about it (actually, a different image resulting from the same session) over on my 52Frames submission.
Ginger Wick Photography is an award winning dog photographer specializing in creating beautiful custom artwork of dogs & their people. Based in Parker, CO serving the Denver area.