Scout's 52 week project

For the last several years I have done a 52 week photo project with one of our dogs. This year was Scout’s turn. Part of me was really looking forward to it and part of me was not. I knew going into the year that my day job work schedule was going to be rough and not allow a lot of time for photos so that was one factor in not looking forward to it. The other was me worrying that I might take a bunch of boring pictures of Scout. She is a great dog and loves to lay around so it would be easy for me to just snap a photo of her sleeping and call it a day. But I think you will see that we both did a pretty good job this year and I am happy it was her turn for the project. Since I know this is about where people quit reading and get to the photos I want to recommend that you start your own 52 week project. Maybe with your own dog or kids maybe your significant other. Everyone has a decent camera on them at all times now and to do a project like this doesn’t require any fancy equipment or editing software. When the end of the project comes it is fun to look over the photos and remember what went on that day. Here is a highlight reel for you

Week 1

Week 1

Week 1

Well as promised here is Scout getting her relax on. This is how we started the year off. This photo made it to Explore on Flickr. It’s always fun when Flickr chooses your photo to highlight for the day although all of the alerts on the phone get a little distracting.

Week 7

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Week 7 we found ourself in Explore again with over 9000 views of this photo. We took a little car ride out to Saulk trail so we could get out of the house. Doesn’t she look great in her little red coat?

Week 14

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Week 14 Pete made an appearance to make sure the Flickr group didn’t forget about him. If you read my earlier blog you know that 2018 is the last year Pete would make an appearance in Scouts photos. The edge o the deck is always a pretty good place for me to get an easy photo of any of our dogs.

Week 15

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Week 15 Scout was hanging in the yard while I was doing some spring cleaning. This was in April so I was burning the leaves I didn’t get cleaned up in the fall. This was taken with my iPhone. I would have liked to have had my regular camera with me but as they say the best camera is the one you have with you. The photo didn’t make it to Explore but was pretty popular. A lot of people thought the smoke in the background was fog.

Week 24

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Week 24 Scout got caught in a very heavy nap. This would have been in June and I think it was starting to get hot and we had come in from play time. I almost forgot about this one. I really like it because it does show her true personality. She loves to relax.

Week 29

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Week 29 we were on vacation in Colorado. So to keep up on the project and keep current in the group I shot this photo of a photo of Scout using the river behind our room as a back drop. I really look forward to going back and maybe we will take a dog with next time.

Week 33

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Week 33 she helped me out by posing next to the donkey in the backyard. This cute photo did make it into explore for that week. How couldn’t it? Isn’t she so cute?

Week 34

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This was just a quick shot so that I stayed current with the project. It is also the last photograph Pete would ever be in. He passed away the following day. I’m sure Scout is telling me something with her eyes. Her and Pete were very close and it took her sometime to get over the loss of him. Heck I’m still not over it.

Week 38

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On a beautiful September day while we were playing in the backyard I captured this. This is my favorite of the year. This photo also went to Explore with over 66,000 views! I only wish I could have gotten her to look at me. She will do her best to not look at the camera a lot of times.

Week 39

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This was just a fun little stop on a solo walk we took on a nice day. As you can see in her face she loves one on one time with dad. No pesky brother or sister to steal my attention.

Week 43

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As a pet photographer I sometimes forget to take my own dogs out and try to get great photos of them. It’s easy to just try and make the photos around the house or in the backyard. On this week we headed off to Bishop Hill to try and add a little fall color to Scouts weekly photo. This photo also made it to explore. Scout was a very popular girl this year.

Week 47

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Week 47 was around Thanksgiving so that gave us a little extra time to head out again for her photo. It was pretty nice that day so we went for a walk around Saulk Trail State Park outside Kewanee IL. The tent camping area is one of my favorite places to photograph. I like all the trees nicely lined up and you can get some pretty good light there at multiple times of day. Several of my most favorite photos were taken there. Plus in the off season it is empty. This went to explore also and is one of a very few that she is looking straight into the camera.

Week 48

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Family picture time! I decided this week I wanted to work on my skills of getting multiple dogs in one image looking at me. From left to right we have Scout (of course) Hanna, Alfie and Miles. As you can tell it was all Miles could do to wake up and look at the camera. I will be doing more of this type of stuff this year.

I think even with some of my doubts on how this year would go I have to say I’m pretty happy with the results. Now to turn my attention to Hanna and her 52 week project.

Delta Small Dog Rescue December 2018 (Kewanee Illinois)

I was lucky enough to have some time off over the Christmas holiday and decided I wanted to do some photos of dogs looking for homes. I wasn’t sure which shelter to work with this time and then I remembered there was a small rescue in Kewanee called Delta Small Dog Rescue. They’re name says it all they rescue small dogs. I’ve worked with several shelters over the years and wanted to spread some of the love this time and work with a different group to help them get a little more exposure for their adoptable dogs. Delta Small Dog Rescue is located in Kewanee Illinois at Pages Pampered Pets and is run by Page Kendall. If you look through my website you will see one of Page’s dogs in the portfolio section. Her dog Paisley was in the Henry County Humane Society calendar a few years ago plus I had done some photos for her and her husband (and of course the dogs) a few years ago too. So going in there were already some familiar faces and it was nice to catch up. Ok enough jabber let’s get to the dogs….




Oreo is an 11 year old rat terrier..ish maybe a little Jack Russel too. So I am just going to take a moment and gush over her a little bit. I really liked her! “But John she’s a little black and white dog that looks a lot like your dogs so of course you love her”. Ok that’s fair but I really like her attitude and behavior. She is really friendly and loves to play. But what I really notices was how she was very focused on us humans. She didn’t seem to interested in roaming around or trying to run off, she really just wanted to play!

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Oreo maybe a little older but she has a lot of love to give. She does love to play with her toys but she likes to chill out on you lap too. Honestly if we were not full on dogs I would adopt her in a minute. If you are interested in adopting her contact Delta Small Dog Rescue at 309-525-4011.


Shiloh is a 1 year old Rat Terrier mix. He is a friendly little guy and was really trying to work with me on getting some good adoption photos so he can find a good home.


Shiloh was fun to work with and gave me some great poses pretty quickly. He is listed as good with kids, cats and other dogs. He is also listed as hyper and loves to play. He seemed like he liked playing but I didn’t think he seemed that hyper…but my baseline for hyper is my own dog Hanna and she is what I would call hyper. From the little bit of time I spent with Shiloh I thought he was pretty tame for a Rat Terrier but mine are crazy so maybe I’m not the best judge. As a Rat Terrier owner I think he will make a great dog for a family and will provide everyone plenty of entertainment.


Kimber & Nelly

Kimber and Nelly are both female Chihuahuas and are bonded so they need to be adopted together. It is believed that they are mother and daughter. When we went out for their photos they didn’t want a whole lot to do with me. They seemed pretty happy to be out for a walk and sniffing up all the smells. When I started scratching Kimber’s neck she did seem to really enjoy that and i think I earned a couple of points with her. Nelly (mom) is 11 and Kimber 10 is the daughter. To read more about them go to Delta Small Dog Rescue.





2018 Henry County Humane Society-Kewanee model call! (all spots filled)

All spots are filled right now.  Just taking names for alternate list.  Thank you everyone for all of your interest!

It's that time of year again time to start shooting for the HCHS-K fundraiser calendar.  We have already booked 7 spots but we still need to fill 5 more.  Like in the past it is $75.00 to purchase a month in the calendar and you will receive a calendar when they are printed.  The $75.00 goes to help cover the cost of printing the calendar and as I have in the past I will donate my time for the photo shoots and calendar layout to help keep the costs low so that the shelter can maximize how much money they raise off of this fundraiser.  

All sessions will be shot on location and more than likely will have to be on a Saturday or Sunday.  After your session you will be given the opportunity to purchase  the edited photos from your session but you are not required to and if I know me I probably won't follow up with you to see if you would like to so make sure to mention it at some point during our interactions.  

Last year the calendar raised close to $4000 for the animals at the shelter and is one of the bigger fundraisers done through the year.  

If you are interested in a spot please e-mail me at with your name, type of pet, pets name and phone number.  You can also message me on Facebook but that tends to have problems at times so your message could get lost.  If we run out of spots I will put you on a list in case someone drops out.  

Please do not contact the shelter about a spot for the calendar!  It causes confusion and someone will get left out.  


2017 52 Weeks of Pete! Part 1| Pet photography

Well it’s a new year so a new 52-week project is started.  This year it’s my dog Pete!  I was torn on whether to use Pete or his sister, Scout since she has participated in a project yet.  After a lot of consideration, I went with Pete.  Pete is 13 years old and we have had him since he was 8 weeks.  Pete is my first dog I’ve had as an adult and we have been through a lot together.  From hiding him in my apartment where I wasn’t suppose to have dogs to him being diagnosed with Addison’s Disease, there’s no doubt that Pete belongs with us. 

Read More

52 weeks of Alfie Part 3|Pet Photography



Now that I’m 5 weeks into my next 52-week project with Pete, I realized I didn’t complete a final blog about my last project with Alfie.  I’ll be honest and say the last few weeks his photos were rushed and nothing special, which happens in a long-term project like this. Then add in cold weather, holidays and other distractions and watch things get a little boring.  We actually had 53 weeks this year so Alfie got an extra week tagged on.



In week 47 we find Alfie in bed getting ready for a Nap Club.  On Sunday’s, Alfie and I have Nap Club so that I can get some sleep before going into work at night.  The weekend is when Alfie gets a chance to sleep in the bed with me and he really loves it.  For such a high-energy dog, he really knows how to nap.



Week 49-We had SNOW!!  This was one of the very few times this year that we had snow.  As you can tell, Alfie was digging it.  I’m not a huge fan of snow but it can make for some great photos.



Week 50-The snow is gone.  This one’s pretty boring: just Alfie watching over the yard.  I’m sure he’s looking for a squirrel.



Week 52-Alfie and Miles are out enjoying what little snow we had gotten.  I really like this action shot of them playing and it helps that Alfie looks freaked out. 



Week 53-Happy New Year!  For some reason this photo went to explore on Flickr and I don’t know why.  I did this really quick and I didn’t put a lot of effort into it.  It is kind of funny but definitely not a portfolio photo.


I really enjoyed using Alfie for my 2016 52-week project.  These projects help me carve out 1-on-1 time with a dog and get a little closer to them.  Alfie is such a good dog with a lot of personality and a real presence in front of the camera.  These projects are good for me. They make sure I am out on a regular basis shooting and keeping my skills fresh.  My plan is to do a photo book of his photos from this project so that I have a physical product from our work.  A photo isn’t a photo until it’s a print.

Next up for my 2017 52-week project is Pete.  If I was fair, it would have been Scout this year because she hasn’t done one yet. But since I make the rules, it’s Pete’s turn again.  Since he’s 13 years old, I felt it was more important to make Pete my subject.


You can find the part 1 here and part 2 here of my 52 weeks of Alfie. 





Family session-Graham/Hudson-LeClaire, Iowa





I thought I’d share a little bit of a recent family photo session with you.  I got a message from Kristy asking if I was available for a family photo.  I was a little surprised because the winter months aren’t that popular.  Well, as you know, winter has kind of forgotten to show up most of the season and it was a pretty good day in January for photos. 


I feel I need to give a little back story. Back in the Spring of 2014, I stopped by Kristy’s shop and she asked if I would be interested in photographing her wedding, which caught me off guard.  She had she seen that I had attended WPPI (a wedding-centric trade show) and thought I may be looking to expand my business that way.  I think I even said “no” at first but then back peddled into a “maybe.”  I gave it a week and then decided to do it. It went well and I was very happy how things turned out. But if you ask my wife she will tell you that I texted her that day and said, “No more weddings!”  That was my insecurity talking. After seeing the images, I was happy and felt like I didn’t blow it.



Flash forward a couple years and Kristy and Roger welcome a beautiful baby girl into their lives. Kristy asked again if I would be interested in doing newborn photos.  There are a lot of different ways photographers photograph newborns. We talked and they wanted something more natural in their home.  I was good with that because I don’t have the baby props, special blankets, antique furniture, or sometimes even a spaceship that I’ve seen others use.  Brinley is such a happy little girl so she made it easy on us. However, she does like to put her hand in front of her mouth.  No problem. We can work with that!  I was very happy they contacted me to do Brinley’s photos because, in a way, this photo shoot completes the wedding photos.  Wedding photography documents the start of the couples’ life together and the photographer is kind of the director/producer/camera man/grip/editor. To be called back for a sequel is a big honor.  Many, many years from now Brinley maybe showing her children mom and dad’s wedding album and her baby pictures so that they can see where it started. 



Ok I’m getting a little windy!  Let’s talk about the recent shoot.  They wanted to get a nice photo of all of them looking at the camera standing in front of the fireplace(This is paraphrased from the questionnaire I sent out). I don’t like using a tripod. I have one and it’s good, but I like to be free with my camera. However, with a larger group shot with kids I knew I should use it in case. I just might have had to swap a head out with photo editing software because someone wasn’t looking when everyone else was.  As luck would have it, I didn’t need to do that but using the tripod still helped me with keeping lines straight especially with the fireplace brick.  The lighting was simple: just an Alien Bee and hotshoe flash with a white umbrella for fill. 


Everyone did great. Even Brinley was smiling at the camera in the end. 

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I did a few photos of the grandkids with the grand parents and then with their parents and some of just the kids.  I was able to get a few good photos of Brinley. Man, she has a lot of different expressions. She’s hilarious. 

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After a while, the guys got tired of me so the ladies and I headed out side for some “Just-the-girls” shots.  I took this great one of all the girls and I really liked it.  It was a little chilly so Dad (Roger) was standing inside holding Brinley until it was time for the photo.  After that was done we decided to take a few photos of Kodie.



Kodie made my day.  She was dancing and jumping around like kids do, but in an authentic way. I think if I weren’t there she would have been doing it anyway.  So, I snapped a few shots of her jumping and wow!  I hit it just right.  I was really excited about it. I thought it was a cool photo and I felt like it was a true representation of her personality.  She has so much hair and the way it arched was awesome.  Then we grabbed a couple of quick portraits and, once again, those were great.  I think Kodie is one of those people who can’t have any bad pictures taken and probably never will.  You know those people; we all want to be them.



I like doing family photo shoots. The bigger the better. Sometimes it’s just for the fact that you have more ingredients to work with to bake up something nice.  I’m strongly considering doing family Documentary Sessions.  If you’ve read this far, let me know if you’re interested in something like that.  I will try and work in something special. These will be on a first come, first serve basis, so don’t wait too long if you are interested. 






NADAC agility trials Davenport, Iowa|December 30-January 1st





Recently I had a client suggest to me that I should consider going to agility contests and doing photographs of the dogs competing.  I thought “that’s a great idea” and I had done it in the past but it had been a couple years and I just needed someone to remind me of it.  So I headed online to do a little research and find out when the next event in our area would be.  Luck would have it there was one over New Years weekend at the Quad City Dog Center in Davenport Iowa.  My biggest concern with doing something like this is getting good quality images and with my past experience I know that getting good quality images of dogs moving fast indoors with poor lighting is hard.  My god is it hard.  I decided that I would rent a lens to try and help me with this task a Nikon 70-200 2.8 and paired it with my D600.  The D600 isn’t the best sports camera but it works ok.  With trying to get action shots in poor lighting you end up taking a lot of photos and most of them suck but I think I came out with some decent ones.



The first events were held on Friday December 30th and those started at 6pm.  Doing this event my plan was to go home that night and edit the photos then send them off to be printed so that I would have prints the next day for the contestants to purchase.  I knew Friday was going to be a late night but I figured I could suck it up buttercup and power through.  After a couple hours of shooting I realized I had over 2000 photos and that would take awhile to download to my computer then upload them for printing.  So I decided to leave before the event was over that night.  Also I knew that if I stayed I would just be taking the same photos over so I wasn’t that concerned about missing something.   By time I got the photos downloaded and sent offto print it was 2 am and I needed to be in Davenport at 9 am.  I ended up getting about 2 ½ hours of sleep.  But we made it and had photos to sell that morning.  My wife Alysia was a huge help by working the table and answering questions.  We had a lot of interest in the photos and everyone seemed happy that we had prints to sell at the event so they didn’t have to wait.



Saturday was a full day with many events.  I don’t really know what all the different events are but Saturday had more jumping in it that Friday did.  The jumping shots are always fun but extremely difficult to get.  Some of these dogs are moving like lightning and many of them have dark faces without much detail in their eyes so grabbing focus is tough.  The reason it’s so hard to get photos of black dogs is because black absorbs light as where the lighter colors reflect it.  I have no problem getting good photos of black dogs during normal photo shoots but in a situation like this I have no control over lighting.  I can’t use a flash during competition so I’m at the mercy ofwhatever lighting is available. 



Sunday was the last day of competition and it felt like the people were warming up to us.  My wife had talked to a few of the people and it turned out that there have been other photographers there in the past and some of them took orders for prints but never fulfilled the orders, so they took the money and ran.  Doing an event like this is a grind and if your not prepared for that your going to fail.  There’s a lot of being kneeled down which is why I need to remember to bring my knee pads next time.  The biggest challenge to an event like this is dealing with all of the photos and editing them.  On the second day I slowed my shooting down and tried to only take photos I thought would be good and people would want but still I ended up with 1500 or so that day.  I’ll probably change my workflow a bit to see if I can speed up the culling process my thought is I will use PhotoMechanic to cull the photos down to the keepers and then use my normal Lightroom processing to edit them. 


On Sunday a couple of the competitors won an award.  I can’t remember what the award is called but it is an achievement award based on many past competitions.  I know they were pretty happy to win them and from what I understand it takes awhile.  I wish I had known they were going to receive them after  whichever run gave them enough points to win because I would have liked to be in a better position to get a reaction photo.  But lesson learned I will try and pay closer attention to that next time.



My plan is to try and make this a regular thing I do.  I really enjoy watching the dogs compete and it seems like a nice community of dog people.  I have a few things I want to try for next time including renting a longer lens for tighter shots and a different camera that is more capable at shooting indoor sports.  I have a pretty high standard for what my photos should look like but in a situation like this I have to know that the quality I expect is going to be hard to achieve because I have little control over what happens.  I do like having prints the next day to sell and will continue to do that but people can also order photos through my site after the event too.  I also want to learn more about the sport knowing what your photographing is a huge help.  Thank you to everyone who supported us and hope to see you soon.  Don’t forget I am available for private photo sessions. 






Talking Pictures Podcast; Talking Calendars and the New Year.



Recently, on the Talking Pictures podcast, I was interviewed about the 2017 Kewanee Animal Shelter calendar.  In 2015, the Dispatch-Argus photo staff at started a podcast about the photojournalism industry, their daily assignments and just a little bit of everything to do with photography.  I was really excited about a local podcast about photography so I started listening from the first episode. I really love listening to podcasts because I like listening to people talk. I was a big talk radio fan but that is almost exclusively political and typically puts me in a bad mood.  Now, with podcasting, anyone can do a podcast and the range of topics is unlimited.


The “ring leader” of the podcast is Todd Mizener, photo editor at the Dispatch-Argus, and the co-host is Todd Welvaert, a photojournalist who recently retired from the Dispatch-Argusto pursue his own freelance career with a focus on wedding photography. You can find his website here .  If not out on assignment, Meg McLaughlin, a photojournalist with the Dispatch-Argus, is also on the show.  They all have busy schedules so the frequency of the podcast seems to be whenever they have a chance to do one and I would say it’s about once a month. 


As a fan of the podcast, I have interacted with them on Twitter, typically just  ReTweeting their episodes or letting them know I enjoyed an episode.  Through those interactions I’ve shared some of my work. They learned about the calendar project and asked me to come on and talk about it.  With a couple of photography industry veterans asking me questions, I was a little nervous.  I was very nervous during the pre-interview and know I said ummm a lot. I think I pulled it together once the main show was recording. I was really thrown by wearing the headphones and listening to my own voice through those. I don’t know why, but that messed with me for a little bit.  For me, listening to their podcast I forget they are journalist and not just photographers. I was reminded that they know what they’re doing in an interview situation. They asked great questions and kept the conversation flowing. My biggest concern was they would ask me something I couldn’t . They were great and their professionalism made me look better, I think.  It also helps that they love dogs! 


One thing I realized is that I need to interact with other photographers in person, I feel it makes us better. I also realized that we all have so much in common.  We got into a little discussion about LightRoom  and I was a little relieved at realizing I’m not the only person who doesn’t use it to its full ability.  Photographers need each other. We need to learn from each other and help make each other better.  We need to get out of the mindset that every photographer is our competition. Yes, in some ways they are. If you’re doing good work that will show and you will get clients who share the same vision for their photos as you do. With the New Year approaching, I realize the need to get out and do more networking with other photographers instead of just being stuck in my own isolated world.  In 2017 I’m going to try and make a point to get out and talk with other photographers, maybe collaborate on a project or just have a drink and debate such things as sensor sizes.