Hi all, I’m Whitney and I love photographing dogs.
Dogs live in the moment. They don’t care what they look like, they don’t ask you to retake the photo if it looks like they have a double chin or if they closed an eye. They just exist, beautifully so. That candidness and raw emotion is what drew me to them as subjects and why I’m so incredibly lucky to do what I do every day.
What started as a seemingly impossible task to document everything my first two dogs did while they grew up eventually grew into more. I got a ‘real’ camera and had no clue how to use it. Put it in sports mode, I thought – since the dogs are always running around fast – but my early photos were terrible. I wanted better memories of them and I was on a mission to figure out how. So I went back to school and I learned. I shot with film, blindly taking risks (we are so spoiled with our cameras and their fancy screens nowadays!). I made a lot of bad photos. It fueled me to be better, and I’ve grown and tried new things with my work. Most recently I opened up a studio in the beautiful Starline Factory in downtown Harvard, Illinois. I still deeply love outdoor natural light photography, and it will always be my preferred aesthetic, but I am happy to offer the option of simple but intricate art of animals in a controlled setting for the first time in my business. I’ve mentored with the best in the industry, including Scruffy Dog Photography and Charlotte Reeves Photography and I’ve invested myself into this career despite the risks. (If you ever want to get some awkward looks from people, tell them you are a dog photographer.)
I began photographing dogs professionally in 2008 and mostly stuck to dog sports. Something about capturing them in action is really rewarding to me. The expressiveness of their crazy eyes as they butt tuck towards you – those crazy eyes that you don’t see when you’re in the moment, but that the camera documents without fail. The chunks of earth they kick up as they dig their feet in going after a ball. I love the raw power and athleticism of all animals – how amazing they are to watch in motion.
But I quickly learned that not all dogs have that high gear. People started coming to me with dogs in failing health. One that stands out is a Beagle who had suffered a stroke. Her owner contacted me and said that she was not very mobile, but if I could just get a few shots of them sitting together in their favorite park, she’d be forever grateful. I met that client the same day, in their favorite park. Sadly, her dog was gone two days later. Those photos and her words confirmed to me that what I am doing is worth something. It matters, it heals, it keeps a memory and love alive even after their short time with us is gone. So in between those action shots I always make time for beautiful portraits and aim to capture the love and intensity of what we all feel when our dog looks into our souls.
I did take on other photographic responsibilities in 2015-2018 when my action photography for a local college led me to start freelancing with newspapers. I held the role of staff photographer at The Woodstock Independent, where I also served as an associate editor, and most recently was a staff photographer at the Northwest Herald. The work was interesting and fresh, and served as a learning experience in more ways than one – my photography skills improved, my communication improved, and it confirmed that my heart still remained with my time spent photographing dogs. I’m grateful for those opportunities and when my schedule allows I still do freelance work. You can visit my non-animal works here, although I made sure that the animals made an appearance.
I live in beautiful McHenry County in Northern Illinois with my husband and our four yellow labs. I volunteer with McHenry County Animal Control and photograph the adoptable animals, helping them to look their best to potential forever homes.
I’d love to meet you and your dog too, and make memories together.