So, I finally decided on a business name and some of you have probably already guess what it is after seeing the title of my blog post. Thank you for all of the feedback I received after my earlier post ‘What’s in a name?’ it helped me develop more concrete thoughts about the next steps to take. The name I settled on is ‘Two Black Dogs Art & Photography’ which seemed logical because it has meaning to me, and it builds on my existing ‘brand’ (if you can call it that). I hope that the words ‘art’ and ‘photography’ provide enough information about me and people will explore my website or contact me through social media to get more detail about me and the type of work I do. For those of you reading this post my business focuses on creating pet portraits using the medium of pastels and/or photography. You may be wondering why the word ‘pet’ doesn’t feature in the business name, it is because I also paint landscapes and wildlife, photograph shelter dogs, and on the odd occasion I photograph people.
My website is currently a portfolio, created using the Adobe Portfolio which is free to Adobe Creative Cloud subscribers. At the moment I have no pricing available and no way of booking online, my work comes through requests via email or direct from friends and family. Whilst I have years of management experience, having my own business is new to me and there is a lot to learn so I am taking things slowly while I find my feet. If you would like to see examples of my work, please take a look at my portfolio: https://www.twoblackdogsartandphotography.com.au and let me know what you think.
The logo for Two Black Dogs Art and Photography was partly developed by a graphic designer and I then tweaked the typeface and layout a little to suit the various formats. Thankfully the designer is a friend who accepts gift cards as payment and he was happy for me to adapt the logo to suit, providing me with the source files that made it possible.
This is going to be a steep learning curve for me, I will be trying to find more regular work in the interim as art and photography supplies don’t come cheap plus we have a senior dog to support 😉 If you want to follow my work you can find me on instagram @twoblackdoggiesartandphoto and I will try to share more on this blog, my posts have been rather infrequent these past 12-18 months. On that note I’d like to thank you all for your patience and your support, this blog has been going for about 8 years and I’ve (virtually) met some wonderful people as a result.
November is storm season in Queensland and we’ve had a couple of loud and scary ones but thankfully the worst of them missed our place (touch wood). As a twenty something loving in Newcastle I discovered how much I loved a good storm when staying with family near the beach. From their house I watched in awe as the clouds rolled in and the light changed creating an eery atmosphere before the skies opened and the lightning let loose. It was magic.
There were pockets of storm action Sunday afternoon, mainly to the north of us so we got very little rain and only a few rumbles of thunder. We did however see some amazing cloud formations and fantastic light as we strolled around a local sports field. Bundy could not have cared less about any of it, he was too busy following random scent trails. With only my iPhone at hand I tried to capture the amazing nature of the clouds and light using the Lightoom mobile app and my phone’s native camera app. The images are a little dark, more post-processing required or perhaps there are better apps for capturing these types of scenes on a smartphone.
I’ve spent the last few months debating whether to start a business focused on offering animal lovers a choice of pastel pet portraits and photographic portraits. The business idea is a possible alternative to full-time work or a side hustle that could supplement part-time employment whilst building up a client base. The latter certainly sounds more sensible.
Either way, one decision I have to make is to decide on a business name. Do I use my full name, a variation of my name, expand on the use of Two Black Dogs or even come up with something completely different? Two Black Dogs is my handle on Twitter and Instagram as well as being the title of this blog so I would need to have separate social media accounts regardless of what I decide. In researching existing businesses that focus on either pet photography or pet portraits there appears to be a mix of businesses using the artist’s name and those with names that reflect the genre of their art.
My reason for considering the expansion of the use of Two Black Dogs is the same reason for starting this blog, my black dogs Maxi and Bundy. Their antics, those big, brown eyes and my obsession with them inspired me to do pastel pet portraits, and being a crazy dog mum who volunteers in a shelter gave me a focus for my photography. Whilst the name is meaningful to me I realise it may not be meaningful to potential clients, which is often the argument for not using an individual’s name. It is all doing my head in and that is without even starting the business…what hope do I have?
Halloween is not a huge event in Australia although it’s popularity is growing and if there are children in your neighbourhood you tend to notice it more. We don’t have children, so poor little Bundy bears the brunt of the Halloween costumes on offer at Kmart. This year it was a toss-up between a pumpkin and a glittering red devil costume, however, as a result of my indecision neither made it into the shopping trolley. Fortunately a camera-toting, dog loving friend had underestimated the size of her wolfhound cross when buying a spider costume, and apparently, an XL costume is more suitable for a staffy such as Bundy.
The first photoshoot was conducted in bushland, I thought a natural environment would suit a big, black spider. The messy nature of the background and the floppy legs made it a little harder to see the detail of the costume, and converting images to black and white didn’t seem to help. I then tried photographing Bundy in our backyard with a less cluttered background. At this stage Bundy was pretty much over the costume and I really had to bribe him to do more than stand there and look sullen, as you can see, he still looks sullen but he did cooperate.
More recently I bought a hooded skeleton costume which supposedly glows in the dark. The glow factor of the costume hasn’t been tested, a photoshoot in the dark isn’t something I am prepared for so I am happy to wait until Halloween to see if the costume actually glows. With props in hand and treats in my camera bag, Bundy and I headed off to our bushland setting. Bundy was happy to explore while I stuck fake spider webs on the trees and lit a few candles, thankfully the day was overcast and the rain had dampened the setting minimising any risk of a fire breaking out.
The results aren’t bad although there are a few things I would have done differently:
Sprayed for mosquitoes (huge and vicious things)
Take the time to set the scene up before adding Bundy
Used more candles
Dressed Bundy in a costume that you could easily see from any angle
What do you think? What could I have done differently?
My life is pretty quiet at the moment, when I’m not doing housework, drawing or hanging out with Bundy I am walking dogs at our local shelter and trying to get decent photos for their profiles. A good profile photo can help draw attention to shelter dogs waiting to be adopted and it helps me by allowing me to practice my skills while doing something I love.
Anyway, here are some of the beautiful kids that I’ve had the pleasure of photographing this year.
No, I’m not having a garage sale nor am I selling all my worldly belongings on eBay in order to fund a life of travel. What I am doing or attempting to do, is to sell products that feature my art and photography. How you might ask? Well, I’m giving the print on demand service Redbubble a test run to see if there is a demand for my style of art and photography. To be honest, the majority of products will feature my photographs because very little of my artwork has been digitised and it will take time for me to build up a digital collection of art with the appropriate resolution for printing.
Redbubble is an online marketplace to which artists can upload their artwork for placement of products such as t-shirts, smartphone cases, tote bags and more. There are a variety of these services available online, you may have heard of Zazzle, Fine Art America, and Society6. Why did I choose Redbubble? For starters, it cost me nothing to set up the site and I don’t have to pay upfront for products to be created, nor do I have to worry about storage or shipping costs. All costs are covered by the commission that Redbubble takes when products are sold, a business model that does not suit everyone however it meets my needs for now. In addition, Redbubble is an Australian based company that was founded in Melbourne back in 2006.
So, if you have the time and the inclination to check out my stuff please let me know what you think. In the future, I would like to add more of my illustrations as well as a few designs that demonstrate my love for dogs. My site https://www.redbubble.com/people/sammijk is in its infancy and constructive feedback is most welcome.
Blogging has been part of my life for just over seven years and in that time I have dipped in and out of the Weekly Photo Challenge. My blogging is sporadic at best, however, the weekly challenge helped me find the motivation to hit the keyboard and share so I will be sad to see it end.
Although I will still continue to post photos and share stories I fear that I may struggle to find my feet without a bit of a push. Until then please enjoy my farewell to the Weekly Photo Challenge with a few of my favourite photos.
Variations on a theme is the choice for this week’s photo challenge and given my tendency to photography a subject numerous times from various angles it wasn’t a difficult task. The difficulty for me was deciding between the doors of Venice, dogs of Italy, street art in Melbourne, The Rape of the Sabine in Florence, Notre Dame Cathedral and so on. Sorting through my catalogue of images, the Eiffel Tower in Paris seemed an obvious choice. There are not many places in Paris that provide little or no view of the Eiffel Tower and I don’t care whether it is touristy, a cliche or over represented. I love seeing the tower rising out of the fog, peering from behind trees or twinkling in the dark, it means I’m on holiday in Paris and that always makes me happy.
After several extreme weather events a local wildlife reserve was in danger of being overcome by algae, weeds and dying trees, but all that has changed thanks to a group of dedicated people. I have watched and admired the changes happening as a result of an ongoing regeneration program which has seen the clearing of dead and invasive plants. Native plants have been planted all around the lake and as they grow they provide a source of food and sanctuary for wildlife as well as beautifying the area.
This literal interpretation of this week’s photo challenge: growth is my contribution to the challenge.