Pomeranian Portrait / by Stefaan Conrad

Recently I was asked by a friend to photograph an elementary school teacher's dogs as a gift from the class. Those of you that know me at all can agree that I tend to fall much farther toward the feline side of the cat or dog discussion so I was almost hesitant to accept the request. It was a small paying job and I would gain some experience so I accepted. I knew that there would be multiple dogs but what kind and exactly how many I wasn't sure.

Come the day of the shoot, the owners husband met me at the studio and asked, "Would you like one at a time or all five?" FIVE?? Trying to keep as much professionalism about me I suggested we aimed for a group shot so all five it was. 

Snapping the single moment when all five Pomeranians were looking in somewhat the same direction was, as you can imagine, a little difficult. Clapping, whistling, and holding chunks of bread in the air, we fought for their attention just to pop the flashes three times before one or another would hop off the table and go explore the studio. Eventually they became too distracted or the strobes had agitated them beyond the point of cooperation so I set out to find the most promising shot. 

A print was requested to fit the frame that had been supplied so that the gift could be something tangible. When the time came to open the box, the 1st graders gathered around as young ones do, all trying to catch a glimpse at what could be inside. The moment the frame was uncovered, the teacher burst into tears in a sweet display of affection for her five Pomeranians. 

 After collecting herself she proceeded to tell the class about each one and what made each one special.

Seeing the video after the fact touched me in a rather profound way. This was the first time that I had brought someone to tears through a piece of my work. That in itself is far more valuable to me than having the experience of working with animals or any subject for that matter. Being a photographer has so many perks but this was something I'd not yet experienced. No amount of monetary compensation for any job could evoke the feeling of pride and accomplishment that I felt when I saw such a true emotional response.

In fact, knowing what joy I helped bring to another person almost brought tears to my own eyes.