My Mutt PhotographersMeet the photographers behind the My Mutt posters.
Ellen Shershow Peña (East Bay)
You might think I photograph dogs, but I don’t. Not really.
My inspiration comes from a wide range of places, including but not limited to Vogue magazine, People magazine, reality TV, John Szarkowski, Joan Rivers, Dolly Parton, Steve Martin, Diane Arbus, Mad Men, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Best In Show, Woody Allen and Golden Gate Park at dawn. I draw my color pallet from Dutch Renaissance painters, Gerard Dou, Rogier Van Der Weyden and Johannes Vermeer.
Most of all, I am inspired by the Dog.
The dog has adapted to the human world like no other animal. When primitive man sat around the proverbial campfire, a myriad of beasts lived, breathed, and ate nearby, yet of all of these only the dog emerged as our domesticated companion.
We humans have been creating images of dogs nearly as long as we have been creating images of humans. As far back as 900 B.C., ancient Egyptians paid tribute to their pets by mummifying and painting them along with their human owners. In the 1600’s, artists such as Diego Velazquez and Anthony Van Dyck painted pastoral scenes showcasing regal hunting dogs alongside their owners.
Us dog lovers know our dogs are so much more than companions.
The dog is slobbery and kooky and soulful and precious. Next to Steve Martin and Jennifer Coolidge, they are the funniest creatures in the world. We are enthralled by them, the gentle gaze, the unconditional love, the stories of dog as hero. When I was a teenager, our springer spaniel was my coolest and nicest friend. When I failed algebra, she licked my face. When I was lonely, she curled up in bed with me until I wasn’t lonely anymore.
You might think I photograph dogs, but I don’t. Not really.
Here is what I do: I work with dogs and their humans. Small dogs, big dogs, diva dogs, shy dogs, funny dogs, happy dogs, unusual dogs. The dogs and the humans and I get together, and together we make pictures.
Josh Norem (San Francisco, Peninsula)
I've been involved in Pet rescue for over a decade in the San Francisco Bay Area, both as a foster parent, adoption coordinator, cat socializer, dog walker, and also as a photographer. I have two blind cats of my own and have always had a fondness for "special" animals as well as animals in need.
I originally started photographing animals because I was a dyed in the wool crazy cat lady and the motto when it comes to photography is "shoot what you love." So I started shooting my own cats, and then eventually rescue cats and dogs because it gave me a chance to help the animals while also meeting a lot of excellent animal lovers at the same time. I am currently the photographer for Wonder Cat Rescue as well as part of the team at Animal Care & Control in San Francisco in addition to my work for Pet Food Express. I love taking My Mutt portraits because I get to meet a lot of awesome people and their pets, and it gives me a chance to give back to the Bay Area pet community that I love so much. It's always a challenge to try to capture the animal's spirit and personality in every shoot, but it's a challenge that makes every shoot exciting both for me, the owners, and the always adorable animal that ends up in front of my lens. I love taking My Mutt portraits, and am so grateful for the opportunity to make each and every one.
Mark Rogers (San Francisco, Peninsula, North Bay)
I've been photographing animals since I could hold a camera. In fact, the very first picture I ever printed was a shot I took when I was 11 of my black cat sitting in a patch of hot pink azalea bushes. What began as a lifelong hobby turned into a full-time career as a professional pet photographer 5 years ago when I decided I much preferred spending my work day playing on the ground with cats, dogs and bunnies than sitting in an office in front of a computer. Since then, I've worked with many private and commercial clients, appeared in many magazines and books and have been named Best Bay Area Pet Photographer every year in SFGate since 2008.
My style is very contemporary and candid with a focus on capturing animals’ individuality and uniqueness with a few dashes of humor and action thrown in for good measure. I prefer working on location at places like beaches, parks and homes where pets feel comfortable and can act like themselves.
Working with pets on a daily basis also allows me to indulge my other passion: helping animal welfare and rescue groups. In addition to photographing My Mutt posters for Pet Food Express which supports such groups all over Northern California, I also serve on the board of Give A Dog A Bone and the advisory board of VETSOS
If you'd like to see more of my work or are interested in having your pet photographed please stop by Mark Rogers Photography or give me a call at (415) 378-8602.
Pam Harvey-Merrill (Contra Costa County, Napa)
"Photography has always been my passion. From the time I was a youngster, I always had a camera in my pocket."
I was fortunate enough to work on the water front for an ocean carrier (sorry, in the office) for 35 1/2 years. During that time, I was given free rein to take photos any time, any where as long as I was on my lunch hour or coffee break. With permission from the captain of the vessels, I was allowed go aboard whenever they were in port. One time, I even talked my way onto one of the tug boats that was assigned to assist one of our vessels that was getting ready to depart. The other tug was backing up, "posed" under the humongous bow of the vessel, the sun was setting and the sky line of San Francisco was in the back ground. What a shot!!!
And then, 9-11 happened and I was no longer allowed to do what I loved to do. Someone mentioned the word "security risk".
Good news... a short time later, I "graduated" (some people say "retired") from my job with the ocean carrier. Next thing you know someone mentioned to me that Pet Food Express just happened to be looking for another photographer. It has been about 5+ years now of getting to do what I love to do and I could not be happier. I've yet to meet a dog or cat that has complained that the photo made them look fat.
Scott Broecker (Carmel)
Scott Broecker is a lifelong dog lover who combines his artistic style with his photography skills to capture the essence of the dogs he photographs. As photographer, writer, and co-owner of Coastal Canine magazine Scott’s life has totally gone to the dogs, and of course, that’s a good thing. Scott has also been the My Mutt photographer for the Carmel Pet Food Express store since it’s opening in June 2009.
Scott and his wife, Carie, share their home with 2 cats and 4 dogs. Both have been active volunteers in animal rescue work since 1999. His work with dogs was inspired by their 16 year old Shepard Mix, Sunshine, who passed away in July 2010 and was the epitome of joy and love and all things dog. Scott's work can be viewed at www.scottbroecker.com, www.bytheseapetphotos.com, and www.coastalcaninemag.com. He can be reached at 831-277-9539.
Sonia Gates (South Bay)
My path to pet photography began with a desire to chronicle the lives of my two Labrador companions, Henry and Annie. I wanted to capture and document their uniqueness, not just with glamour shots but with shots of them being their sandy, slobbery, fun-loving selves. I wanted to own a collection of beautiful images that would make me smile long after they had crossed the rainbow bridge. Some years later, pet photography seemed a natural evolution and a perfect fit. Today, I am in the business of doing what I love for others who share my desire.
I also have a passion for rescue photography. I am a volunteer at the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter where I started as a dog walker and now work on a weekly basis, assisted by an incredible team of volunteers, taking photos for the shelter’s web and social media sites. I also volunteer my services to other animal welfare non-profits in the Santa Cruz area. In rescue photography, I especially love photographing animals deemed more difficult to adopt out – seniors, those with health issues or breeds considered less popular among potential adopters. My goal is to capture images that will catch the eyes and win the hearts of potential adopters. It is challenging but extremely rewarding.
I feel privileged to now be a South Bay photographer for the Pet Food Express My Mutt program. Their contribution to animal rescues is impressive and it is an honor to be a part of that effort. It is another perfect fit and I look forward to meeting more wonderful people and their pets through the My Mutt program.
Please visit my website and meet some of the pups I’ve photographed (including my own!): www.soniagates.com
Yamin Bilal (East Bay)
I have always loved animals and, in some form or another, I've always been into photography. It was only natural that I'd put the two interests together. Three years ago, I decided to do exactly that.
I began my photographic career as a nature and wildlife photographer, and have spent many days studying the habits of wild animals at Mt. Diablo State Park; Coyote Hills Regional Park; and even Vancouver, B.C.'s Stanley Park. Through this I have developed patience and a unique eye for integrating the natural environment into your pet's photographs.
My goal is to present you with photographs of your pet that you would be proud to look at again and again, to share with friends and family, to hang on your wall. I strive to capture the moments that define the essence of what makes our pets special to us.
Yamin's work can be viewed at www.happypawsphoto.com.