McGraw Photography Blog » Charlotte, NC | Pet & Dog Photography

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According to his mom, Oliver is the All-American dog. He is a black, mixed-breed rescue…in my opinion, one of the best kinds of dogs out there!

Now Oliver isn’t just your run-of-the-mill pup. Noooo. He’s a smarty pants and will do anything for a treat (and don’t say that word too loudly). His repertoire of tricks is pretty extensive and he’ll go through them all before you have a chance to ask. Oh, and his crooked front paws and head tilt are the cherry on top.

We spent Mother’s Day morning hanging out in Oliver’s gorgeous back yard. After an hour-and-a-half, I had fallen in love with this fluffy little guy. I would have taken him home with me, but that probably wouldn’t be too nice to do to his mom on Mother’s Day.

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Oliver was a phenomenal model. His mom was a little worried that he wouldn’t look at the camera because he shies away from her iPhone. Some treats and a ball solved that issue. :)
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This is one of my favs…
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Oh, and this one. That face. I tell ya…
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And some goofy ones of this sweet boy…
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Oliver’s eyes are absolutely piercing. I don’t know if it was the light or what, but his eyes looked this gorgeous straight out of the camera. Wow!
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Thank you so much, Oliver, for knocking our socks off. What a special gift you are to your mother. Everyday must feel like Mother’s Day to her. xx!

Luke – Studio Session

Luke is a big ol’ puppy with paws as large as my hands. I’m guessing he’ll be a 90-pounder or so? When he came into the studio, I had to document all of his puppy goodness. I figured I’d give it a go with some video!

As most of you know, I’ve really been playing around with video and trying to learn everything I can. This was a new experience in and of itself. Shot inside with only available lighting, I quickly realized I’ll need to invest in some continuous video lighting if I want to replicate the look of the still images in the studio. Either way, we had a ton of fun and we ended up with a super-cute promo video. I especially love the end…

Pet Portrait Studio from Sarah McGraw on Vimeo.

And I’m sure you’d like to see a closer look of Luke’s still images. I adore this big baby!

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Thanks so much for coming along on this fun session!

Brittani Croft - Oh my word…you know I love your video work so much and this is so playful and fun. What a face on that guy!

Shelby – Moving Pet Portrait

April 23rd was the ideal Spring day – birds chirping, 70-something degree weather, flowers blooming, and not a cloud in the sky. I inhaled the fresh air flowing through my screen door while I felt the warmth of the sun as it broke through the dancing leaves outside my window. With all of the beauty and light surrounding me, it was hard to imagine that something as dark and as ugly as cancer lingered in the shadows, ready to pounce at any innocent victim walking by. This time, that despicable cancer had gotten its grubby hands on the dog I was filming that very evening.

Shelby is a lovely mixed-breed pup that has recently been diagnosed with cancer. After undergoing numerous tests (including a biopsy close to her lungs), her parents and their oncologist decided to move forward with chemo and radiation. In fact, her first round of radiation was scheduled the the morning after our session.

That Spring evening, on the drive to Shelby’s home, the pressure to perform began to build. Although Shelby only lived a couple miles away, the short trip seemed to take hours. I couldn’t get there fast enough. The storyline and shot-list I made days earlier played over and over in my head. Voices were also saying, “don’t mess this up…this is so important…don’t mess this up.” Don’t get me wrong, I do this for every session. This was just amplified x 100!

After ringing on the doorbell, I could hear Shelby barking inside. Her oh-so-nice mom greeted me and invited me in to meet my special model. (Oh, did I mention Shelby’s mom is one of the most fabulous wedding and boudoir photographers ever? Yeah, check out Critsey Rowe Photography when you get the chance. Again, no added pressure on a photographer like me. Ha!) Anyway, because Shelby’s parents are photographers, Shelby knew what my camera was. This wasn’t necessarily an advantage. Actually she would prefer the camera to stay out of her face for a change. However, with a little treat motivation, Shelby warmed up to the whole this-is-about-you idea pretty quickly. Awesome!

Before we really began to film, we had to go through wardrobe. Because of Shelby’s biopsy, her back was shaved and she was sporting an interesting ‘do. She doesn’t usually dress up, but for this special occasion, she decided to go with a nice little pink frock. Super girly. Now we were ready!

Adrenaline took over at that point and Shelby’s parents probably thought I was a crazy woman. I had them do things over and over and, just like in any movie, it’s not necessarily shot in an order that makes sense. When nerves or pressure crept in, I would refer back to my shoot-list to make sure I didn’t forget any important elements to the story. After a few hours of filming, it was a wrap! I said my goodbyes and wished Shelby the very best luck for her upcoming radiation session. She then settled in for a peaceful nap.

When Shelby’s Moving Pet Portrait was complete, I didn’t release it right away. Again, insecurities overwhelmed me. I knew parts weren’t perfect – I mean, I’m still learning. I had a lunch date with Shelby’s mom in a couple days and I wanted to make sure she was happy with the video before it went public. May 5th was the day. Noon. At Dish in Plaza Midwood. Press play. She cried. I cried. All was well..including Shelby.

Since first meeting Shelby, she has undergone a few radiation sessions. According to her mom, she is feeling much better and seems much happier. I have no doubt she will continue to improve! I know all of the wonderful positivity and good vibes she’s been receiving over the past few days are sure to help as well.

So if you’ve read this mini-novel, I’m sure you’re ready to meet the famous Shelby. I introduce this special lady and her wonderful mom and dad…

Shelby – Moving Pet Portrait from Sarah McGraw on Vimeo.

And here is the YouTube link in case the above video won’t display on your viewing device:

Here are a few stills from after our filming. This first image shows Shelby’s shaved back and markings for her radiation…

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And of course her darling face…
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Thank you to everyone that has shown Shelby love and support. It’s amazing what positive energy can do to change a situation for the better. We love you Shelby! xx!

Jackie P - You did it again! Soooo very beautiful Sarah, my darn eyes water up! Best wishes for restored health to pretty Shelby!

A Personal Story for Mother’s Day » Critsey Rowe Wedding Photography | Charlotte | New York | Chicago | Charleston - […] Sarah wrote a really sweet blog post about Shelby and her shoot. See it HERE. […]

Thomas Geist - Sarah, you did great! The video is wonderful and exceeded all our expectations. Mine were high because I heard so much great things about you ;)

Many say photographers are just as bad subjects as doctors are patients … I guess I am an exception here – when being the subject I enjoy leaving the “photographer” behind.
You made this very easy and luckily I was only an extra here.

Thank you again for giving us such a treasure and for doing an exceptionally great job!

Shelby’s dad

Beth - I am so glad that Shelby is doing well! This is such a cute video!

Caryn Capps - I cried, still crying. Shelby is lovely, and I know her parents will always treasure these memories of her, whatever the outcome.

I remember when you dropped everything and made a same day beeline for my house, so I could have memories of my beloved boy Jack as the hours were counting down till I lost him to the wretched beast called cancer just a day and a half later.
1 year, 10 months, 1 week and one day… and I can still see those images clear as day thanks to you.

I firmly believe that when I am very old, and may have forgotten the names of all those faces I loved, I will still see those images of my beloved boy Jack. You don’t just take photographs, you give life long memories!

Jeni - Sarah, I’ve been following your work for some time and always think you are an amazing pet photographer….but my dear, I have to retract that…. You are an Awesome, Amazing, Outstanding photographer!!! This is beautiful!

Brittani Croft - What an amazing video…I was crying in the first 15 seconds. Absolutely beautiful.

Missy and Dailey

Before I start on the cuteness overload you’re about to see of Missy and Dailey, I have to give a big shout out to their parents. Long-time followers of mine, they were all over everything for their session. Mom read all through the Welcome Package and did everything in the “How to Prepare” section and even had an appreciation for the lighting the day of the session (we had to reschedule once because of the threat of rain). Can I say dream client? Just wanted to put that out there because I don’t do it often enough. My clients (human and 4-legged) are amazing. :)

Now on to their super-adorable babies, Missy and Dailey. Although they greeted me with a couple barks, once I stepped in their home and they smelled treats, they were all mine. :) Even Dailey (who tends to be a little more shy) was following me around within seconds. I had a feeling they were going to be great models. I introduce the pups in front of the camera for this pet portrait session…drum roll please….Dailey (left) and Missy (right)…

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I instantly fell in love with Dailey. He may have a little head – no, really, he’s tiny – but he’s got the smarts of a young child. There’s a lot going on behind those eyes. He’s one of the most intelligent pups I’ve ever met.
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Missy wasn’t a dummy either. She’d do anything for a treat. :)
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The best part was seeing the two of these pups together. They are professional head-tilters part-time. 
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And full-time crazy playmates!
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And of course to-die-for models. :)
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I squeal every time I see an image of these two together!!!
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Toward the end of our session, we made a quick trip down to the neighborhood creek. Most of the tall grass and flowers had been cut that afternoon but we managed to find some pretty goodness to pose in.
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Charlotte NC Pet Portraits
These two, man. Gotta love ‘em! :)
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