This week’s spotlight is on another of our Smile for a Cure photographers – Kelly Schulze. Kelly was the top fund raiser in the first Smile for a Cure promotion in 2011.
Name of business
Mountain Dog Photography in Monkton, Vermont
Favorite subjects to shoot
Animals of course! Wild and domestic animals provide a continuous challenge.
Are you exclusively a dog photographer or do you do other subjects?
I’ve photographed dogs, cats, horses, cattle, sheep, goats, a yak, chickens, llamas, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, rats, gerbils, hamsters, snakes, and lizards for clients. For private clients though dogs seem to be the most popular subject. I shy away from the term “pet photographer” as many of my clients own livestock, which they don’t consider pets. I also photograph wildlife.
How did you become interested in photography?
I was always interested in photographing my own animals, even at a young age. My father is an avid amateur photographer and my grandfather was a professional photographer in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I studied a bit more in college, but the thought of becoming a professional animal photographer never even crossed my mind until after I graduated and realized that I needed to find a career that I loved. I did a lot of research and found that other photographers were specializing in animals, so I figured I could too.
Why did you chose to include dogs/pets in your business?
I had a lot of animals growing up – cats, dogs, rats, gerbils, hamsters, and horses. I volunteered at an animal shelter, attended an agricultural high school, majored in Animal Science in college, worked as a veterinary technician, and worked as a dairy records specialist and milk tester. I’ve worked with a wide range of animals my whole life… there was no “non-animal” option for my career. I left my dairy career a year and a half ago to go full time with photography.
Why did you join Smile for a Cure?
The first two dogs my family had, Tristan the golden retriever and Samantha the lab/golden mix, died within two weeks of each other from different cancers. Tristan had malignant melanoma and it was a fast moving, devastating disease. Samantha’s cancer was never diagnosed because by the time we knew she was sick, it was too late to treat her. Many of my clients know the same heartbreak. One in particular lost their beloved Hannibal, a sheltie, early last summer. He had about 3 weeks from diagnosis to the end of his life. I was very close to Hannibal and saw him often, so when the Smile program started last summer I wanted to find another way of honoring him. The Smile For a Cure program lets me use my talent to do some good. We all hope that cancer is eradicated, but easing the treatment process is just as important. I appreciate that the NCCF supports research to cure cancer and to find better treatments.
Tell us your favorite Smile for a Cure session story.
I photographed 3 Smile sessions with a total of 10 dogs. They were all such different sessions. Delilah and Bilbo were special because Delilah was Hannibal’s best friend. The family adopted Bilbo last summer and it was bittersweet because I wished more than anything that Hannibal was my model, but Bilbo had such infectious puppy energy and has helped Delilah heal. Charlotte, Jack Maroo, and Willis were special because Charlotte is a cancer survivor. She lost a front leg, but she doesn’t let it slow her down. One portrait of Jack from that session recently earned me a blue ribbon at a print competition. My last session was with 5 newfies; Neeka, Ruby, Sparrow, Marley, and Mr. Spatz. Neeka is the mother of the others and all are beautiful dogs with wonderful personalities. The day of their portrait session threatened to rain and dark clouds loomed overhead. We were able to get all 5 together, relatively drool free, for a beautiful family portrait. Just after I got “the” shot it started down pouring and we ran back to the van with all 5 dogs loping along.
Canon or Nikon? Nikon D700. It’s been a workhorse and has never let me down. I also still shoot with various medium and large format film cameras. Film photography is my hobby.
Tell us about your dogs:
My husband, Ian, and I currently have a pack of 4 motley mutts. Our oldest and largest is Logan, a 5 year old great Pyrenees mix. Strangers are usually intimidated, but he’s a big teddy bear once he feels comfortable. Jackson is a 3 year old collieish mix. He loves agility and meeting other dogs. His motto is “strangers are friends I haven’t met yet”. JB is a 1.5 year old min pin. She’s 10 pounds of pure attitude, but she has her silly moments and is quite photogenic. Molly is our most recent addition, a 1.5 year old berner/aussie mix. She’s incredibly smart and motivated to learn. Last month we lost our beautiful German shepherd, Maple, so it still feels odd to have 4 dogs. Also under our care are 6 cats (Miss Kitty, Luci, Bink, Dorie, Masson, and Judy), and 30 laying hens.
Kelly @ MountainDogPhotography.net