Photo Credit: @ashleyasker
Throughout the year we’ve taken more than one look at photographers who shoot everything from birthdays to weddings. This is the first time we’re featuring a photographer whose job is to capture the most possibly beloved member of all families; dogs. I don’t know about you, but I love my family dog more than well, more than most of the people who can actually talk back to me. That’s why it made me tear up to look through all the shots Ashley Timms has taken of dogs both big and small. We talked about those feels, as well as if cats will ever be in the picture.
Kendra: Have to ask the age-old question. What came first, the love of photography or dogs and when did the two come together?
Ashley Timms: Photography, funnily enough! My dad was an artist and photographer and I think that piqued my interest early on. I worked for a headshot photographer years ago and, naturally, started doing headshots myself. When I was getting started I didn’t have any models so I used my dog and friends’ dogs. That’s when I realized they have just as much personality to capture!
Kendra: Looking through your photos and seeing perhaps what are the older dogs hit me right in the feels. Our family dog is up there in age (15 years!). Do you ever get emotional working with people and their fur-mily, especially when they have more years on them?
Ashley Timms: Oh my gosh, yes. The only downside of this job is knowing my furry clients don’t live forever. I’ve done a few Celebration Sessions that capture the dog with their family in their final days, weeks, or months. They’re always difficult for everyone involved, but I’m so grateful that we capture those memories for them to keep forever. Knowing we outlive them, I always make it “mandatory” for my clients to get in at least some photos with their dog, no matter how old they are. When the time comes, those photos will be all that’s left.
Kendra: Every day we see articles about millennials and how they’re “killing the world” by not having kids or waiting on them, often opting for pets instead. Do you feel that more of your clients fall into that generation because while they don’t have kids they have a creature they love just as much as a parent loves a child?
Ashley Timms: I think the expectation that people must have kids is a bit outdated and many in my generation may think similarly. While having kids is great for some, for others, a pet is all they’ll ever need to be fulfilled. My clients; whether they’re kid-free, an empty-nester, or simply not ready for kids yet; certainly give their everything to their dogs and it really shows.
Kendra: Often times you hear that actors prefer not to work with animals or kids. Working with animals seems a lot harder at times, to me. How long does it usually take for a new client to get used to the idea of being a model for the day? And do you have any sure-fire tricks that never fail to get the perfect shot?
Ashley Timms: The only way to have a successful session with great photos is to make sure the dog is as happy as possible at all times. I spend the first few minutes of every session getting the dog used to me and my gear and vice versa. Some dogs take a while to warm up, which means I’ll use a longer lens until they’re okay with me getting closer. My top tip is positive reinforcement! Be armed and ready with treats or a ball or anything else the dog loves. As soon as the camera clicks, we reward. It’s like the ultimate clicker training!
Kendra: Do you ever think you’ll open things up and incorporate cats, or other pets, into the mix?
Ashley Timms: I’m totally open to other pets. I grew up with a cat I absolutely adored. Iguanas, horses, cats, snakes, hamsters, — I’ll take ’em all!
Kendra: You’ve noted you have a handful of locations but clients can choose where to go. How do you find and decide on locales?
Ashley Timms: It’s a lot of hard work. I’ll spend hours on Google Maps, scouring the page for what appears to be prime locations. Then I’ll grab my gear, pack my dog in the car, put it in my GPS, and head out to make sure it works. I let my clients choose from the list of my favorites but it also depends on the time of year. If the client has a special place in mind, we can do that, too.
Kendra: With the summer in full swing, are you busier than ever?
Ashley Timms: Yes! Summer is when people are the most active with their dogs, so that tends to be when people reach out, but I offer sessions year round.