As a commercial animal photographer I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work on amazing photography projects. Once in a while a project comes up that is truly out of this world. Last year I was approached by Canadian Tire and their creative agency, Jackman, to create images for the packaging of the new Paws Up! brand – a new line of dog and cat foods exclusively available at Canadian Tire. The photos needed to capture happy dogs and cats, which is pretty standard for packaging. What set these photos apart was that the animals needed to look like they had their paws in the air to go in line with the Paws Up! brand name. This would be a real challenge!
I absolutely loved the idea so I accepted the job, but I had to figure out a way to capture paws in my photographs. After much brainstorming with Angus, my studio's resident animal handler, we decided that the only way to achieve the look we needed was to photograph the animals from below. Over two days we designed and constructed a raised plexiglass platform that dogs and cats could stand on and that I could photograph from underneath. The platform had to be tall enough to obtain the focal length that I desired. I also needed to mount a backdrop above the platform. Needless to say we required a substantial space to pull this off. We elected to work out of The Neighbourhood Studio in Toronto, which was sufficiently spacious for the job and is also a comfortable and stylish space to entertain clients.
Now that our setup was ready we had to convince our animals that it was safe to walk on a see-through floor. We hired V. Hessing, a veteran animal trainer from Toronto's busy film industry and the owner of V's Talented Animal Performers, to source a range of dogs and cats and to handle them during the shoot. Over four days of photography and with endless treats, toys, and patience, we successfully created amazing photographs that captured the essence of the Paws Up! brand.
Paws Up! dog and cat foods have recently launched and are available exclusively at Canadian Tire stores across Canada. We are proud to have played an important role in the launch of this exciting new brand and look forward to seeing more Paws Up! products in the future.