Maggie and her Big Smile Feature Image

This bit of “something Extra” Will make your pet portrait really pop!

by | Mar 18, 2022

What makes a portrait from Apawture Studios so dang special? My background has a lot to do with it!

Professional Dog Portraits. Feline Photographing. Pet Photography. Whatever you may want to call it, it’s a fairly new thing. But damn, if it ain’t blowing up!

Every day a new artist pops up in my feed. From America. Australia, Europe….all over the world. And these artists are FANtastic.

There are gorgeous, dreamy woodland poses of pooches perched on wooden posts. There are those quirky cheeks-flapping, eyes rolled back and sparkly spit bits frozen in time, treat-catching poses. Dog or fish? Hard to tell in some of the glittery blue underwater photos people are doing these days. Photos of your average, every day dogs, that are just the center of our world.

So what is that lil’ somethin’ somethin that I add to my photography, that makes me stand out amongst the ever-growing crowd?

Well, to answer that, we have to go all the way back to the mid-80’s, to a small, 5 year old girl’s bedroom in South Holland, Illinois.

The Early Creative Days

It was my bedroom, and I’d done something that made Mom real mad. So I was in time-out for the ump-teenth time and, naturally, bored. So decided to get out my art supplies and start to draw.

Sounds innocent enough, right? WRONG!

Crude drawing of a stick woman etched into a vintage, wooden dresser.
1987 A Portrait of Mom | Medium: Nail on Vintage Dresser, Crayon | Sorry Mom!!

I had taken out a nail and started scraping a very crude-caveman like etching of a stick woman closely resembling my very own mother, into a vintage dresser. To top it off, I added color accents (again…crudely) to the dress in crayons.

Let’s skip ahead, past weeks of even more time-out and slowly yet arduously earning back my distraught mother’s trust, to the late 90s.

Even in high school, I had that creative spark. Opting to turn down GPA boosting enrichment classes for art classes. Which, in turn, made me seventh in my graduating class instead of the probable sixth, which went to Nick Anderson* (name changed for anonymity (and because I also totally don’t remember that kid’s name)). You’re welcome “Nick.” You couldn’t have done it without me.

In university, UIUC (University of Illinois – Champaign, Urbana for those who aren’t into March Madness) armed with a home-made iron-on transfer shirt, stating – in what I now know to be horrible typography – “Pigmy Fur Grab Ick Dee Sign” I’d beat out around 100 of my classmates and landed a spot out of 30 in the school of graphic design.

This is the point where I really fell in love with design. With the idea of telling a story. I once read:

Graphic Design is not Art. Art is subjective, while Graphic Design needs to relay a very clear message.

Or something along those lines, as I can’t find the exact quote, but the idea is there.

Although my career path hung a left towards Motion Graphics and Animation-ville, design and its core principles of telling a clear story, has always been there.

Professional Life

I’m going to brag a bit; get over it. I worked hard and was persistent. And got to work at some fucking cool companies. From JBTV, a super-hip, underground Chicago music video tv show, to Razorfish a super-hip ad agency, to Nintendo – duh THE Nintendo and finally landing a vendor’s desk at Apple working on their website. Almost always with a camera in hand to get the assets needed or at the very least, up to my glazed-over eyeballs in Photoshop layers.

But what does it always come down to?

The story.

A picture is worth a thousand words, but those words can be pretty vague if you don’t have a clear message.

That’s why it’s so important for me to hear about you and your pet’s story. We don’t normally describe pets as creative per se, but the world they create for us certainly is colorful.

What’s your story?

Maybe your pet is a little “high energy.” Great! Let’s bust out the tennis balls and bounce them off the walls of the studio to really coax out that look of pure joy on their face.

Is your cat extra fancy when relaxing by the window? Let’s set that up and capture the poise and elegance in that pose!

From there, I’ll complete the look and style with creative editing, sometimes even designing backdrops to help emphasize that story.

Design-tography!

Let’s put my design background and storytelling to use. Let’s be clever and aim for meaning with the images. Let’s tell your story.

Photo of the outside of the MASI museum with the Wegman exhibit banner in the window.
The outside of the Museo d’Arte della Svizzera Italiana, for the Wegman Exhibit. | Lugano, Switzerland

The weekend before Milan’s lockdown, I managed to hop on a train across the border to Lugano, Switzerland to catch an exhibit by my favorite “OG pet photographer” of all time: William Wegman.

The thing I love most about Wegman is that he works with his Weimaraners in a way that’s always clever! Whether it’s filming a video of himself flipping a coin and rotating his pup companion forward or backwards (heads or tails, respectively) or photographing “nudes” zooming into a curvy dog bum or adding human arms and clothing.

The best part of that exhibit was just watching folks wander through the gallery with an enormous smile on their face.

That’s what our pets do to us. They make us feel good. They make us happy.

They make us smile.

So let me help you design the perfect representation of your pet. Not just a photo, but a piece of artwork. Guaranteed to make you think. Guaranteed to make you smile.

If you have any questions, or a brilliant idea about how to make your pet shine, reach out and let’s schedule a chat. No pressure!


KEEP IT GOING!

This post is part of a blog circle of some of the most uber-talented pet photographers all over the world. Keep reading to hear about more special spots in cities all around the world.

Up next: Dog photographer, Courtney Bryson, takes you back to school on this Maltese’s sunrise session on the Georgia Tech campus in downtown Atlanta, GA.

Follow the circle until you land back on this page. Enjoy!

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7 Comments
  1. Holly

    I have loved William Wegmans work for YEARS!! Nice to know there are more fans out there. I wish you lived closer. We’d have a blast shooting together.

    Reply
    • THE Carol Mudra

      Yes. He’s so fun and talented. And I know! It would be super fun to go shoot with you. Maybe sometime soon I’ll make it back to visit all my PNW friends and we can make it happen.

      Reply
  2. Angela Schneider

    Thanks for introducing me to William Wegman! I do love looking for inspiration from the OGs of our industry.

    Reply
    • THE Carol Mudra

      He’s always done such a good job of making fine art, but not without appreciating the natural goofiness of the subject matter. I love that balance. Plus who doesn’t love a floppy-eared weimy?!

      Reply
  3. Elaine

    “Medium: Nail on Vintage Dresser” I spit out my coffee. This post is priceless. Enjoyed reading every word!

    Reply
    • THE Carol Mudra

      I’m pretty sure that was my mom’s reaction when she saw my masterpiece too!! Haha!! Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  4. Tracy Allard

    That must have been a great exhibit, so jealous! I LOL at your childhood drawing, on the furniture, forever etched on the furniture. My grandmother has a mirror with a similar design which I etched with what was surely a diamond I had found because it cut glass LOL.

    Reply
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