Monday, August 24, 2009


So your dog just won his first major and you’re excited. Or maybe your dog won his futurity and you are so proud that you can’t wait to share your excitement with everyone. Winning at dog shows is the breeder/exhibitors ultimate goal for all the hard work that went into developing a show dog's potential. Receiving a beautiful picture of your dog's accomplishment is ALMOST as exciting as the win itself!

People congratulate you. Hands are extended and shaken. Pleasantries are exchanged between you and your handler and the judge raves on and on about the excellent quality of your dog. With your trophy and ribbon in your hand, you walk to a designated spot after the show is over to take a picture of your dog

If winning at a dog show is the ultimate goal, then the taking of the picture of the win is the icing on the cake. This is the picture that serves as a reminder of this very special day. With this picture in your hand, it assists you with your bragging rights. This is the picture that you’ll send to the judge to thank them for the win. This is the picture you’ll put in your photo album or hang on your wall. This is the picture that you’ll use to advertise in the German Shepherd Dog Review. This is the picture that you’ll send to some German Shepherd Dog e-mail lists to share with other breeders. But what if “this picture” isn’t a good picture? Part of the fun of bragging about your dog’s win is having a gorgeous picture to flaunt and flash for people to “ooh and aw” over!

Part of what a specialty club does when planning a dog show is hiring a photographer to take the pictures of all the winners. It is in the best interest of the club and for the exhibitors that the club hires a photographer that is familiar with taking pictures of the German Shepherd Dog. This is a unique breed in many ways and one of those things that make him unique is the way he is set up in a show stance. No other breed of dog is set up like the German Shepherd. If the photographer is not familiar with the structure of this dog and the way that he needs to be set up, then the owner may be in for a very disappointing picture.

Because the German Shepherd is set up to show not only his front structure, but also his top line and rear angulation, the photographer must know how to capture this in his photograph. The dog will be set up with his left leg stretched out behind him and his right leg under him a bit forward to balance his weight. Many times I’ve seen a picture that is not centered and the photographer takes the picture more towards the front of the dog distorting the look of the hindquarter.

From personal experience…..I showed a young bitch a couple of years ago in her futurity. When it came time to take her winning picture, we took her to a field and the handler set her up. The photographer took several pictures and I anxiously waited for them to be developed. The photographer had a website for those who wanted to view their dog’s pictures so they could choose which one they would like to buy. Well ALL of my dog’s photographs were horrible. I didn’t buy any of them. Now this is heartbreaking because you now have nothing to show for your dog’s win. Looking at the rest of this photographer’s pictures of this futurity proved to be the same quality of photos throughout. Most were disappointing. If I recollect correctly, I don’t think this photographer had much experience photographing German Shepherds. I’m sure he must have been a decent photographer, but not of the German Shepherd Dog.

I believe that each club should hire a photographer that has experience in photographing this breed. There are some excellent photographers out there. The club needs to find out the photographer’s credentials before hiring him.

Most of the time, I have been very satisfied with my dog’s photos taken by professional photographers. Having lived on the east coast all of my life, I was very fortunate to have most of my dog’s pictures taken by the great photographer, Norman Seldes. I’ve seen beautiful photography from others across the United States. All one needs to do is look in the German Shepherd Dog Review to see the great work some of these photographers do. So check around to see who is available in your area. Having a beautiful picture of your dog’s win is something you deserve to cherish for years to come.

Show pictures can vary in price depending upon the photographer’s expertise in photographing dogs. Expect to pay $35 and up.

My rating on an experienced GSD photographer: experience: (4), knowledge: (4), value: (4)

1 comment:

  1. Great blog Barbara...I would also stress that hosting clubs should always take seriously any input they receive from the exhibitors as to the quality of the product and not just hire someone who is available or that they have used before. I too have many beautiful show photos of my dogs, but the few that were not...were a crushing disappointment...because the moment could not be re-captured...Pauline