Making Pets Sit Up And Mug for the Camera

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sometimes dogs pant and drool, or sniff and explore. Other times, they pose by the posies in the back yard.

Once, Robin Burkett recalls, a German shepherd she was photographing sat by a pond near one of the monuments on the Mall, then with a sudden splash, jumped in after a duck.

Burkett owns PawPrints Photography in Alexandria. In six years of pet photography, she has snapped cats lying on a red settee and dogs rolling among leaves, as well as parrots, horses, alpacas, iguanas, guinea pigs and rats.

"I love photography, I love animals, and it's always something different," she said. Burkett works on location, usually the client's home, and often spends four or more hours getting to know the pet and getting the right images.

Burkett figures photography, though crucial, is one-fourth of her job. The rest is sales, business development, photo touch-up, delivery and administrative chores. "It's a cool job, but it's a ton of work," she said.

She started part time, snapping Little League teams on weekends. Now she photographs only animals -- sometimes with their owners.

"I pretty much know if I'm going to get a dog to do something," she said.

-- Vickie Elmer

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