archer in valentine's day kissing booth

(Picture Credit: Adriana Mrizek)

Let me just state up front, I have the best dog. I know many people claim they have the best dog, but they are wrong. I have the best dog that has ever existed. My dog’s name is Archer, and he’s the magnificent, handsome beast in the picture above.

I’m constantly taking pictures of him throughout the day, and my phone is about 87 percent full of photos and video of Archer. But when I came across a Facebook event that was advertising a holiday-themed dog photoshoot at the local animal hospital, I decided that Archer would finally have a professional capture his majesty.

Photographer Adriana Mrizek runs Furry Reflections Photography,  and after our first photo session, we became repeat customers. Adriana is great at getting the perfect expression from pets. Every time we’d come to one of her themed photoshoots, there were always new fun backdrops and props, and you could tell everyone was having a great time.

I was able to talk to Adriana earlier this year and find out about her work with pet photography.

How A Love Of Animals Became A Professional Pet Photography Career

dogs in the park

(Picture Credit: Adriana Mrizek)

BRIAN: Have you always been interested in taking photographs of animals?

ADRIANA: I love working with animals and when I was in high school my grandfather gave me his old Nikon camera. It was very manual. You put the film in and wind it and all that. And I used to take a lot of pictures, and then it became a way to incorporate my love of animals and photography.

It kind of all came together. I got myself a new camera and I really enjoyed taking pictures of dogs — pets, in general. Capturing their personality and the look in their eyes. They have so much to offer and bring a lot to the camera, so I always enjoyed doing that.

BRIAN: When did you start taking pictures of animals?

ADRIANA: I’ve always had cats, and we have birds, so I was always taking pictures of them, and I actually happened to come across pets photography on Pinterest and it was one of those “ah -ha” moments. I was like, “Huh, I wonder if I can actually do something with this.”

I was considering getting a second job for some supplemental income but I wanted to do something that I enjoy, so that all kind of happened around the same time.

I’ve done maternity shoots where you have a couple who have their dog and love their dog and are having a baby, so I’ve done maternity [photos] that include the dog. I’ve done engagements where a couple gets engaged and their dog is in the picture with them.

And I’ve also done birthday pictures for dogs and senior pictures, meaning when the dog is a senior and the owner maybe wants a last set of photos, or I’ve done puppy pictures and new member of the family. A lot of it is showing the personality of that dog. So, I’ve done all kinds of pictures.

I love dogs. I’m just an animal lover. My family would always tease me that if I could, I would have a farm with tons of different animals. But working with dogs is the best. They are always so happy, they want attention, they have a lot of personality.

And cats are great to work with too. They’re a little moodier, but they’re beautiful to capture on the camera.

How Do You Get Great Pictures Of Dogs?

paw and footprints on beach, small dog with tie

(Picture Credit: Adriana Mrizek)

BRIAN: I’m sure this is the question you get asked most often: How you do you get the dogs to stay still for the photos?

ADRIANA: In the studio, one thing is to make sure the dog is comfortable in their surroundings. Allow them to smell the area. I make sure that I give them attention so that they are comfortable with me. And also that the owner is comfortable, because if the owner is nervous, the dog will get nervous as well.

I did a shoot of Doberman once where I had the mother, the father, and seven puppies, and at one point I had them all crawling all over me, and the dad came and put his whole mouth over my camera lens. Not like he yanked it or anything, he just licked it a bit.

It’s okay — it happens. It comes with the territory.

BRIAN: How often do dogs have “accidents” during a photoshoot?

ADRIANA: Knock on wood, I’ve never had a dog poop. I’ve had a couple pee, but for the most part, it’s usually because they’re puppies.

Doggy Photoshoots For The The Big Holidays

(Picture Credit: Adriana Mrizek)

BRIAN: You do the big holiday photoshoots almost every month. What’s the biggest holiday for your pet photography?

ADRIANA: It would be Christmas. Christmas is probably the biggest. I volunteer my services with Help Save Pets, and they are in conjunction with Animal Care Center of Shorewood, Oswego, and Downer’s Grove [in Illinois].

And they have an awesome Santa Claus that works for Bass Pro. He’s so good with the animals. Very patient. The set up is wonderful.

dog posing for saint patrick's day shoot

(Picture Credit: Adriana Mrizek)

BRIAN: And you and I are talking in the middle of March, and you just had your Saint Patrick’s Day doggy photoshoot, and in April you’re having an Easter doggy photoshoot.

ADRIANA: Next month I’m doing things a little different. I try to do something every month, so for April, it’s Easter with a kind of Alice in Wonderland theme.

I don’t do an Easter Bunny because I think — and I’ve never experienced it because I’ve never tried it — but my assumption is that most dogs would be uncomfortable with a big dressed up bunny.

Then in May I’ll do a Mother’s Day setup. In June I want to do something for Father’s Day. Probably have something for Fourth of July. I try to make sure that I have at least two events in the summer. I love meeting people, and I love meeting their dogs.

chihuahua posing for mother's day photoshoot

(Picture Credit: Adriana Mrizek)

BRIAN: Is there a favorite dog breed of yours to photograph?

ADRIANA: It doesn’t matter the breed. You can find a beautiful angle no matter what. Really it depends on the personality of the dog. What work for one dog, may not work for another.

I’m going on it was two years for me in December from when I started and I’m getting repeat [customers]. And its great because the dogs know me and I remember them and the owners. It’s really nice.

BRIAN: Did you grow up with dogs?

ADRIANA: No, but I’ve always wanted a dog. And after thirty-five years, I finally got a dog. He’s a lab-hound mix. He has the head of lab, but the body of a hound. So, if you look at him his head is bigger than his body. His name is Leo. He’s my model. He’s the Furry Reflections’ mascot.

How Can You Get Photos Of Your Dog From Adriana?

two dogs posing for halloween photoshoot

(Picture Credit: Adriana Mrizek)

I had this interview with Adriana before the quarantine, so obviously, a lot has changed. Right now, Adriana is shooting photos at a safe social distance of families and pets on their front porches.

The Front Porch Project lets you capture a special moment with the ones you love, even during this difficult time.

You can schedule an appointment by sending Adriana a message on the Furry Reflections Facebook page.  The photoshoot will take no more than 15 minutes. You can make appointments for weekdays before 5 pm and weekends.

  • $20 includes one digital edited print and a $5 donation to Safe Haven Wildlife Rehabilitation or Wags 2 Wishes.
  • Want to donate to both organizations? $25 includes 1 digital edited print and a $5 donation to both Safe Haven Wildlife Rehabilitation and Wags 2 Wishes.
  • It’s $15 for each additional digital print.

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Do you ever take photos of your dog for holidays or special occasions? How do you get great pics of your pooch? Let us know in the comments below!

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