WARNING: This is a brag post.
With a little bit of luck, a skosh of talent and a lotta bit of determination, I became a dog photographer in Spokane.
And an award-winning storyteller, with both my words and my camera.
Where it all began
My mom took lots of pictures of us when we were kids, and I know I’ll be the one to take those pictures when the time comes for them to be passed on.
I recognized early that a camera was a way to preserve the moments that are here one second and gone the left, like a meet-cute, an engagement, a wedding, a birth … a puppy, a hike, a best fur friend, every stinkin’ adventure along the way.
The second I was allowed to have my own camera, I had one. And since I was a lonely child, not many friends and the only girl of four kids, I turned my lens to the creature I loved the most.
That’s our rough collie Princess, trying to get to our cat Thomas on the water well in my backyard in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada. Yep, I grew up drinking well water.
Princess and I grew up together. She was a funny girl and she somehow knew what the camera meant.
It took no work at all, not like Bella with whom I’ve been working for six years to pose so sweetly, working even harder now that I’m a dog photographer in Spokane.
I remember turning a corner and hoping to surprise her for a goofy, candid shot, but no. She was always posing.
My goodness, she was a beautiful dog.
She died at six or seven in 1989 after getting hit by the milk truck on our street. We had grown up together and that was the first true heartache I had ever experienced.
My then-boyfriend, I recall, said, “Stop crying. It was just a dog.”
I was with him for too much longer after that.
Fast forward through the years
Journalism was my dream job from the time I turned 13 or 14. My Grade 9 English teacher, Karen Faulkner, liked that I asked a lot of questions. A LOT.
She put me in charge of our junior high newspaper. It was typewritten on 8×14 paper, copied on a mimeograph (Jesus, I’m old), stapled together and handed out for free.
My friends — Tracy, Audrey and Margie — and I pretended to be university students one night and snuck into one of the concerts to land an interview with Honeymoon Suite. (Y’all have no idea how awesome that was.)
Then my friend in high school was dating a guy on the hockey team in town and I went on a few dates with his friend, the goalie. That’s when I decided sports journalism was my thing.
My English literature degree progressed to a journalism degree and then it was on to my sports writing career.
Over the course of the next 12 years, posted in Gander, Newfoundland, and Kamloops, British Columbia, I was:
- 1996 Atlantic Community Newspaper Association sports columnist of the year
- 1999 British Columbia/Yukon Community Newspaper Association bronze medal sports writer of the year
- 2001 BCYCNA bronze medal sports writer of the year
- 2001 Cariboo Press sports writer of the year
I never thought much of the awards at the time. It was always a “my editor made me do it” kind of thing.
I thought getting laid off from my sports writing and copy editing at the Calgary Sun was the most broken my heart could ever be.
That was 2003. I survived. I shifted my life into marketing and communication — known in the journalism business as the “dark side.”
In the meantime, I met Shep.
He became my everything.
We hiked, we adventured, we explored ghost towns, we made trips together to Spokane to visit our American.
And then he was gone.
I learned then what a broken heart was.
I have thousands of pictures of our adventures (and most of them suck because they were long before I decided to become a dog photographer in Spokane … dog photography is a lot different than shooting hockey).
I don’t have thousands of pictures of us together. I have candids taken by friends and I have more than a handful of selfies.
As a dog photographer in Spokane
Losing Shep is why I rarely miss a day of taking my camera out for an adventure with Bella.
Losing him is why I will be doing a portrait session with Bella this summer when her belly hair grows back.
Losing him is why the moments my clients and their humans share with me are so damn special. When they let me peek into their lives and see The Magic Moment, I know that Shep is in my heart.
And he led me here to this place as a dog photographer in Spokane.
I was lucky to have found him.
Lucky to have had him in my life and teaching me to learn about myself and my independence.
Losing him stifled my voice for a while but I’m back, baby, and now I can’t stop writing.
And weirdly, I enter the Dog Writers Association of America writing competitions to prove I match up. I’ve been a finalist in three and four categories the last two years.
While I’ve yet to win an award in one of the writing categories, I won a Maxwell medallion in the Series Photo category this year for a set of images from the 2020 Priest Lake Sled Dog Races.
There’s something special about that award, not for writing and not for a single photo but for a set of photos that tell a story.
Because it’s what I want to do for you — tell a story.
Tell the story of the adventures you take with your dog in the Inland Northwest. Reach a glacier lake in the Selkirk Mountains of North Idaho, traverse a trail across the shrub-steppe of Eastern Washington, or just celebrate the friendship at a beautiful park in Spokane.
That’s what an award-winning storyteller does — she tells a story.
All around the circle
Welp, that’s a little bit about my journey as a dog photographer in Spokane.
I feel lucky to have found this pursuit, lucky to be able to dedicate the time to it.
With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, luck is the topic for this week’s pet photographers blog circle. So I went into sharing mode.
Stupidly, I just realized next week’s topic is self-portraits and this would have fit much better into that subject.
In the meantime — before you have to see my mug again — head out into the circle for more about lucky pet photographers.
Start with Darlene Woodward with Pant the Town Photography self-publishing Tails of the North Shore coffee table book and then click the link at the bottom of her post to get to the next in the circle.
Keep doing that until you find yourself back here to your favorite dog photographer in Spokane.
Right where you belong.
I love learning about my fellow circle photogs, great story and here’s to Bella’s belly fur growing back quickly!
I have to admit that I have enjoyed giving her belly smooches without getting a mouthful of hair.
What a wonderful story! I got my first camera at age 10, and have never been without one since. Loved reading this.
I’ve put my camera down for a while at times but I always find it so centering to put it back in my hand.
Thank you for sharing your story, Angela! I love seeing the dog you grew up with :)(Mine was a miniature poodle). Congrats again on your award with the sled dog images – a dream of mine to photograph!
I highly recommend finding a sled dog race to shoot. It’s a lot of fun. The dogs are great.
Beautiful story on coming to where you are now in life as a pet photographer.
Thank you, Nancy!