It's a common request for families with a new baby to somehow incorporate the "first" baby, (the dog), with the "real" baby, (the human). How can you turn that into a long term project for you and a fantastic documentary for your clients? Heidi Peters shows us the way~
"The first time I met Mabel the bulldog was in 2009. I'd been hired to photograph a hip, young couple with a new baby at their home in Chicago. As we took some indoor portraits, the bulldog watched us unhappily, wondering how this small person had usurped most of the affection that had previously been heaped upon her. Mabel planted herself on every blanket we laid out for the baby to lie on. She sat on the baby's clothes that were carefully set on the couch for future shots. She was an immovable nuisance whenever possible. Eventually, we left the dog at the couple's apartment and walked to a local park, created some playful outdoor images, then returned to the apartment to part ways. Before I said goodbye, the couple suggested a shot of the baby with Mabel. Well, with such a stubborn personality, how could any photographer resist? After much positioning of both the dog and the baby, with both parents helping wrangle the subjects, we made the shot. We all fell in love with this image, wondering who was mirroring who? Both the baby and bulldog were patient, innocent, helpless participants in our quest to capture a portrait of these adored subjects together.
Despite moving house and adding a baby brother and sister to the mix, we continue to do this shot every year. Most recently, Mabel came on location with us, just to keep the tradition going.
It's a thrill to look back on these pictures and see the subject grow up, and the bulldog stay the same. I'm proud of the overall consistency and the fact that there is a clear artistic style, even though the locations and lighting scenarios were different each year. For the family, this series catches moments in time, with all the subtle details that only they will find meaningful.”