I love taking photographs and videos of dogs. What you see in a moment of stop action or in an instant caught by the camera can reveal an amazing amount of information.
Observing a split second of a dog's facial expression and action is the best way to learn about body language, and looking at video and photos is really helpful. Once you can recognize a moment of a dog's thoughts or emotions in stop action, it becomes easier to see in real life and real time.
I'm not a particularly good photographer, despite having taken several photography courses at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communication, (which I highly recommend)! I love looking at good photos and marvel at how the photographer happened to be there at that moment. I know photographers take many thousands of pictures of which just a few might be especially memorable, and that is certainly true of my dog pictures. I have more photos of butt ends and blurs than anything even passable. Nonetheless, I keep trying.
Our day care and kennel staff take daily photos of the dogs in their care and post them on our website, Facebook page and SmugMug (there's a link on our website). Many of the pictures they take are absolutely priceless, terrific shots.
In hopes of increasing my skills and learning something new, I enrolled in a six-week lab course at the Loeb School titled Multimedia Storytelling, for which I've spent the last few weeks taking photographs and getting audio interviews. This terrific course was taught by Geoff Forester and Don Himsel, two talented photojournalists and wonderful instructors. They taught us about editing and merging audio with photographs to create a compelling story - or at least we hoped our stories would be compelling. Some of the students created wonderful pieces that made me envious of their talent. My project actually ended up being better than I ever thought I could do.
The first night of class when Don and Geoff asked each of us what we thought we might want to create for the course, I was thinking about one of my favorite topics and one of our most important services - creating good experiences for young puppies. Thinking that my story would be about socialization and play in our Puppy Place day care, I interviewed a client who had been bringing her 11-week-old puppy to us for just a week.
I recorded about a half-hour of conversation with Lisa about her experiences with her puppy, Halley. When I started editing the recording to whittle it down to no more than the three minutes our presentations were to be, I discovered some true gems she had said. Instantly the focus changed to the profound and moving feelings Lisa had shared with me, feelings that represent what most of us feel about our dogs. What had started a possible marketing piece, ended up being a wonderful expression of our connection with dogs, so I chose the title, "Connections."
Of course pictures of puppies can help make a story fun to look at. I really enjoyed this class, and the process of creating a story that expresses what dog lovers feel. If you'd like to see the video, my website has a link to it on YouTube, or search YouTube for "Connections" by Gail Fisher. I hope you like it.
Gail Fisher, author of "The Thinking Dog," runs All Dogs Gym & Inn in Manchester. To suggest a topic for this column, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write c/o All Dogs Gym, 505 Sheffield Road, Manchester, NH 03103. You'll find past columns on her website.