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Outtakes From My Canine Photo Shoot

It took a lot of frames and a lot of patience to get a new headshot
By Karen B. London PhD, May 2019, Updated June 2021
Author Karen B. London

Recently, I had a request for a new headshot for the column that I write in my local paper, the Arizona Daily Sun. (I no longer look as much like the 2005 picture they have been using as I would like to think.) The column is called The London Zoo, and it’s about animals of all kinds. When I asked the Digital Content Producer if she would like it to have a dog as my previous headshot did, she expressed enthusiasm for that prospect.

Seeking a photogenic dog, I asked my friend Emily if her dog Super Bee would be available for any modeling work. Emily agreed to let her dog participate. We arranged a time for the photo shoot when Emily and Super Bee would be in town, when my husband could join us to take the pictures, and when I was free. Naturally, that ended up being a snowy, rainy day, which was only the first of the various obstacles related to getting a good picture.

There are many challenges to taking good photographs of any sort. Lighting, timing, composition and the weather apply to all outdoor shoots, and when you add in a dog, everything gets harder. Super Bee is well-trained, sociable, quite fond of me, really beautiful, and used to having her picture taken. She has an expressive face with a white blaze, a shiny coat, and loves to give eye contact. In other words, she is one of the easiest dogs ever when it comes to taking a good picture. I’m not her equal in that department, but I’m happy to be on either side of the camera and my dark eyes and hair have always made me reasonably photogenic. (I’ve even had multiple people say something along the lines of, “You looked so good in that picture that I didn’t recognize you!” before realizing their social blunder.)

Yet despite all that, it was ridiculously difficult to get a handful of usable pictures out of the 158 frames that my husband shot. There are so many ways to ruin a photo, and Super Bee and I managed to hit a good many of them in our brief 8 minutes of shooting together. (I know that sounds quick, but I shiver when it drops below 70, and it was snowing.) Here are a few of the not-so-lovely photos of us.


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This is one of many pictures in which I had my eyes closed.

Super Bee was a little stressed out and was tongue flicking, and let’s not even address the weird look on my face!

This one caught me making smooching sounds to get Super Bee’s attention.

Super Bee was looking down to eat a dropped treat.

There is sun glare on my face.

Super Bee is looking away rather than at the camera.

I have a hideous ugly expression on my face and Super Bee is also looking less attractive than usual.

Super Bee looks great, but I clearly don’t.

Super Bee discovered my stash of treats.

Photos are better without leash tangling and the ensuing laughter.

We failed to notice the bad background for one series of shots.

I’m gently scratching her, but it looks like I’m hurting her with some kind of death grip.

I was adjusting my hair.

Super Bee decided that her best side was the back of her head.

This awkward high-5 does not make for a good photograph.

I don’t care for the wet snow spots on my jeans.

This one is out of focus.

There is so much snow in my hair that it looks like dandruff.

I tried going on all fours like my canine friend and there’s a big gap between my jeans and my shirt.

I’m out of the frame which is a bit of a problem in a head shot.

Luckily, despite all the problems, we did have enough success to make it worthwhile. After the shoot, I looked through every photo and though there were no perfect pictures, quite a few were good enough for my new head shot. I feel lucky that I was able to get one I liked despite all the outtakes.

Karen B. London, Ph.D. is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral issues, including aggression. Karen writes the animal column for the Arizona Daily Sun and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She is the author of six books about canine training and behavior, including her most recent, Treat Everyone Like a Dog: How a Dog Trainer’s World View Can Improve Your Life