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A look back plus 5 dog-inspired resolutions for 2024

    boxer available for adoption at Companion Animals Center

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    Is 2023 really over? Where did it go? 

    Too often we’re left with that feeling, like we missed out on life while we were busy being busy. I know that’s what it’s like to run two businesses. 

    That is why, of course, it’s so important to take a look back and see everything we accomplished before we get started on the new year. 

    2023 in review

    Let’s do it by the numbers: 

    1 – Major surgery 

    Bella had TPLO surgery to repair a torn canine cruciate ligament in her right hind. Her recovery and rehabilitation put a lot of things on the backburner for me, but we were ready to hit the trails again by May. 

    Bella with her leg shaved after TPLO surgery
    Bella after surgery

    1500 – Dollars raised for Pet Savers 

    Big White Dog Photography participated in Tails of the World, a project in which photographers around the world donate a portion of their session fees to a local nonprofit. The photos are then submitted to a book, created by Caitlin McColl of Australia. Vol. II will be available for purchase this spring.  

    Penny at her Tails of the World session

    This is the second year I’ve participated and it’s a good bit of fun. I chose Pet Savers as our nonprofit this year. They’re a clinic in Spokane Valley that provides spay and neuter services at low cost for those struggling with pet care finances.  

    Some seriously badass women work there too. 

    3200 – Dollars raised for Companions Animal Center 

    I decided not to self-publish a book this year. Instead I went with a wall calendar! We started with a photo contest in which dog lovers submitted their photos and had friends and family vote on The Coolest Dog of the Inland Northwest. Submission and voting fees went straight to the Companion Animals Center in Hayden, Idaho. Each of the top 12 vote-getters won a portrait session with me and we created a wall calendar.

    two Australian cattle dogs pose in the grass at Farragut State Park
    Newt and Artie at their calendar session

    All of the proceeds from calendar sales goes to the CAC. Where some seriously badass women work. 

    You can still get your calendar:

    54 – Companion dogs photographed 

    That’s down from years prior but that’s A-OK with me. Stepping back from the constant hustle of marketing my business was good for me … and for Bella. And oh yeah, that guy we live with. Plus I had a podcast to run and other pet photographers to educate. 

    Speaking of which … 

    48 – Podcast episodes published

    I didn’t host them all. Some were hosted by the amazing photographers in my network whom I call friends. They are also some seriously badass women. The podcast, One Last Network, is centered on the support and services pet guardians may need as their pets age and ultimately leave our physical world.  

    It’s an effort to move forward the idea that pet loss grief is normal and natural. You loved your dog that damn much and losing him hurts, FFS. Grieve that time. 

    21 – Pet loss grief specialists educated 

    Another big aspect of One Last Network is educating pet photographers all around the world how to be a part of the support system for pet guardians who come to them for end of life photography sessions. With the grief education I did in 2022, I put together my own course that is specific to pet photographers and how they can help their clients understand and manage anticipatory grief.

    1 – Dog photography conference attended 

    Shutterhound is the first (and probably only one ever) conference dedicated specifically to dog photography. No horses, cats or iguanas were discussed during my five days in Las Vegas for this epic event, hosted by one of my heroes, Kaylee Greer. While a lot of the content was directed toward beginners in the dog photography business, I came away inspired to focus more on personal projects, like helping shelter animals find forever homes. 

    The perfect gift from my friends at Shutterhound

    1 – Image in the top 100 of the International Pet Photography Awards 

    The winners were announced on the final night of the Shutterhound conference at an awards ceremony. My friends Charlotte Reeves and Craig Turner-Bullock ran the show and presented a slideshow of the top 100 ranked images. Mine was in the slideshow. I leaped out of my chair, gave a Judd Nelson fist punch and yelled, “Fuck yeah!” to the shock of many in the audience. 

    small dog at Dry Falls State Park, which ranked in top 100 of best pet photographer awards in 2023
    Willie in the top 100

    Nothing like that has ever happened before and I was friggin’ chuffed. 

    One judge said:

    A dynamic and visually engaging portrait. The composition of this portrait has clearly considered all elements, and the photographer carefully considered the balance of the subject in relation to the background including the body language of the dog and weight distribution. This portrait shows a strong sense of understanding for technical lighting, with post-production enhancing without distorting the intimacy between technical and creative.

    I had three other images rank as “professional standard,” one bronze and three silver. 

    Silver
    Professional standard
    Silver
    Professional standard
    Bronze

    18 – Shelter dogs photographed 

    And as far as I know, six of them have been adopted, which warms my heart. Photographing shelter dogs takes a special set of skills. These poor animals are under so much stress from living in a controlled chaos. They have been abandoned by the humans they loved and trusted, and their lives exist in a cage with short bursts of time outdoors with the volunteers.  

    dog available for adoption at Companions Animal Center
    Hugo, ready for his forever home

    11 – Shelter cats photographed 

    Cats. CATS! They aren’t as terrifying as I always thought they were. 

    cat available for adoption at Companions Animal Center
    A cat at Companions Animal Center

    5 – Epic road trips 

    I love to travel. I love to see things old and new. My husband and I left Bella behind with friends and flew to Atlantic Canada in August where I introduced him to the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, lobster rolls in downtown Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and the sandy beaches on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. 

    Bella the Maremma sheepdog rests on the beach on the Oregon Coast
    Our trip to the Oregon Coast

    I also got to head to Orlando, Florida, for Global Pet Expo where I networked my ass off with pet-related businesses. Then there was Vegas for Shutterhound, our annual family road trip to the Oregon Coast and finally a weekend in Leavenworth for some model shoots.  

    I would much rather travel with Bella than leave her anywhere, even if it’s with my husband. She turns 10 in March and every day away from her is a day stolen away from us

    7 – Badass women photographed

    I unleashed my personal project to the world last week in this Instagram post:

    Next week, I’ll tell you more about it but for now, I am forever grateful to the seven incredible women who had me photograph them and their dogs – all while they … uh, the women, not the dogs … were wearing lovely full-length gowns.

    7 – Farewells 

    We sign up for some difficult moments when we decide to love an animal. Their time with us is too short, so often much shorter than we imagined it would be. Mr. Bojangles, Deniro, Porterhouse, Jake, Jasper, Ruby and Jack Jack are running among the stars now. The humans who had to say goodbye this year all hold a special place in my heart but none more than my friend, my brother’s girlfriend, who lives in New Brunswick and had to let her Jack Jack go. He was one of the first dogs I ever photographed when I started this business and I got to see him one more time in August. 

    Rest thee well, sweet Jackie. 

    JackJack the German shepherd stands in a grassy field near St. George, New Brunswick
    Good boy, Jackie

    5 resolutions for me 

    Now comes the really hard part, the silly promises we make to ourselves, the changes we say we’ll make in the new year. 

    And give up by the second week of February.

    I’m going to keep them simple and achievable. They’re inspired by Bella and the way she moves through the world: 

    1. Take more naps 
    2. Observe the world around me 
    3. Be more in the moment 
    4. Be better at accepting compliments and praise 
    5. Don’t be afraid to bark with a big voice 

    Above all else, I want to sniff the world around me and pee on all the fire hydrants … er, hike all the trails? This coming year, 2024, is going to be all about curiosity, adventure (duh!) and exploring.  

    Come along for the ride, eh? 

    Author

    Dogs. Adventure. Outdoors. These words set Angela's heart afire. Angela Schneider, an award-winning writer and dog photographer, documents the story of you and your dog and the adventures you take together. Your portraits will be a statement piece in your home, art that will make your friends and family beg to hear its story.

    5 thoughts on “A look back plus 5 dog-inspired resolutions for 2024”

    1. It looks like you’ve had a very nice 2023 and I particularly like your first resolution to take more naps! I need to make that one of mine too. Have a Happy New Year and I’ll look forward to seeing where you take your pet photography business in 2024.

    2. What an amazing 2023 you had, Angela! I love the numbers, especially seeing the 21 Grief Specialists trained – fantastic!
      7 Farewells too many – wish they could be with us, physically, forever.
      Love your resolutions!
      Happy New Year! Cheers to an amazing 2024 ahead – woohoo!

    3. Fantastic year, Angela! Congrats on your top 100 submission (and the rest as well), and I am so very jealous of your lobster rolls on Prince Edward Island. Happy New Year!

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