I have to say, it's been a blast seeing where Carli Davidson's passion for dogs has taken her, starting way back in 2012 when I first featured her on Fstoppers, and again last year with the release of her book Shake. Today marks the official release of her new book, Shake Puppies, and she somehow managed to create a book of cute that surpasses that of her original printed piece.
Back when she released the original Shake, she asked her friend Hanna Ingram's second grade class what they liked about the project and what they wanted to see next time. Their answer? Puppies and colors! But that's not the only reason Carli did it. "I was also drawn to the idea of surrounding myself with puppies. It was almost medicinal—spending the day overdosing on cuteness.
"I love making books that focus on animals. I love knowing that these pictures can make people smile. While I feel a strong ethical responsibility to keep up with current events, these feel good creative projects to keep me from feeling hardened. They are mini escapes from the important but harsh realities we have in our faces 24/7."
So, of course, I was curious how she shot Shake Puppies, and how this differed from her experience photographing full grown dogs.
"I shot Shake Puppies both in my studio and on location in people’s homes. It was much harder to find models for this book than it was for my first Shake book for a couple of reasons. First off, I needed puppies and finding dogs of that were under a year old proved to be more challenging than I anticipated.
"Secondly, it was also difficult to find puppies because I refused to work with unethical breeders. I worked with rescue shelters and pet owners as much as possible. I also worked closely with my production assistant who happens to run an animal rescue and who helped make sure that any breeders we worked with were philosophically in line with both of us. This meant that instead of just finding breeders in Portland, Oregon we sometimes had to pack up and drive down to California so we could feel good about the shoot!"
"The puppies were easier to photograph than the adult dogs. I think they were just more sensitive to moisture and being tussled. We were also training while I was shooting, so the studio environment was new and exciting. I made sure to make it a positive experience for the puppies: we played with them, gave them lots of treats, and got them familiar with the gear before the shoot."
That said, it was a different experience.
"There were some challenges and struggles that I wasn’t expecting upon starting puppies that gave it much more weight, particularly working in rescues, where I saw puppies in need of homes. I had to resist becoming a hoarder myself, and with people struggling with their new puppies behaviors. Watching two species struggle to communicate with each other is hard, and when one of them is a baby it is even harder. I just wanted to do everything I could to help the relationship. I played animal family therapist a lot and gave out a bunch of trainers’ names and book recommendations. I was even inspired to put a note in the back of the book about training and relationship building. Most dogs end up in a rescue when they are about a year old and so much of the reason is a lack of understanding. I want to use this platform to combat that.
"Each pup took about an hour. I shot them on a relatively small set using high-speed lighting and a Nikon D4 camera."
I was also drawn to the idea of surrounding myself with puppies. It was almost medicinal—spending the day overdosing on cuteness.
Below is a small sample of the massive litter of cute you get when you see Shake Puppies. Below are (in order):
- Annie/7 weeks/Cavilear King Charles Spaniel
- Cloud/8 Weeks/Shar Pei
- Hans/12 weeks/Boxer Pit Mix
- Josie/12 weeks/Boxer
- Koda/20 weeks/Pomeranian
- Meatball/10 Weeks/Pit bull
- Vincent/8 weeks/Dauchund
From an artistic perspective, the use of color has dramatically changed the mood of the her second book in comparison to the first, and most certainly for the better. The concept, which is already silly to begin with, is only made that much more jovial by the addition of bright blues, yellows and pinks. Carli's love of animals is, if it's even possible, even more apparent in this book over the first. We also get a better glimpse of Carli herself and her personality, which makes the book feel more personal to the reader.
Technically speaking, the photos are extremely well executed. But this isn't really about technicality, it's about emotion. But from any perspective, this book is a hands down winner. It's going to be a welcome addition to my coffee table and I hope my guests will be as thrilled with the puppies as they were with the full grown dogs (spoiler, they totally are).
You can get the original Shake and the newly released Shake Puppies from Carli's book website. Yes, you want them.