There are many amazing photographers here in Spokane, some we've profiled, and ones we've still yet to feature! However, one type of photographer that can be hard to find in the Northwest/Eastern Washington is a pet photographer.
If you've been following us on Instagram (which you should do - click to follow us on Instagram!), you'll know that our little buddy, Molly, suddenly got very sick and died roughly two months after being diagnosed with aggressive, difficult-to-treat lymphoma cancer.
It was a sad and stressful time for us, and one of my biggest regrets was we hadn't gotten more photos with her, particularly by a professional.
And then in stepped Angela, the photographer for Noses & Toes Pet Photography. She reached out to us and insisted on fitting us in her busy schedule. We were in denial, but she knew we needed those photos fast - and she was right. Angela did an amazing job for us, but she doesn't "just" do miraculous and kind things like this for sick dogs - she does it for all!
Please enjoy this interview with Angela from Noses & Toes Photography about how she got started in pet photography, what you should know before bringing your pup to a photo shoot, and more!
Everyday Spokane: Please tell us a little bit about yourself, like where you’re from, what brought you to Spokane, how long have you been a photographer, etc.
I grew up in a small town in Nova Scotia, Canada, called Antigonish. It's Mi'kmaq for "where the bears gathering beech nuts break branches off trees." Yes, I can say that five times fast without stumbling. At age 14, I knew I wanted to be a journalist. So that's what I did, started telling stories. I picked up a camera and spent much of senior year in high school and university in a dark room. I went into sports writing and, as it goes with small town newspapers in Canada, I had to handle my own photography.
I worked my way across Canada, moving ever up the food chain until I reached my dream job: the sports department at the Calgary Sun. I didn't need my (very) outdated camera gear anymore because we had a whole team of amazing photographers. I got rid of it. Three years later in 2006, however, I was part of a massive layoff with 120 jobs eliminated in our national chain. I jumped into marketing and communications, which I realize now, 13 years later, sucked my soul dry. I needed to explore my creativity and so when my heart dog, Shep, and I started hiking in the Rocky Mountains, I bought a digital DSLR and rediscovered my love for photography.
In all that time, I made a trip to Spokane for a softball tournament. I fell in love with the area and the people. Through a friend I met that weekend, I met the man who is now my husband and I moved here to be with him in 2015. We've been married since March 7 of that year.
What or who first sparked your interest in photography?
It's twofold really. My mom was always taking pictures of us as kids and she instilled the importance of photography as a way to hold onto memories. As a journalist, I see photography as a visual, tangible way of recording history.I think of some of the history I was able to write about and photograph in Newfoundland, British Columbia and Alberta and I'm truly honored to be a part of those stories.
What types of photography do you specialize in?
Dogs! I have a 3x3 print of one of the first pictures I ever took. It was my rough collie Princess. And among my most important possessions are the hundreds, if not thousands, of images I have of Shep. He came to me in a private rescue. He needed a home in the middle of his humans' divorce and a friend connected me to him. He changed my life and, when I had to say goodbye to him in 2014, I was devastated. I still miss him. I still cry over him, even though I know he's in my heart forever.
Since then and as I battled with the need to have an income against the lack of creativity I found in marketing and communications, I wondered if I could find a space in landscape photography, wedding photography, anything photography. And yet there I was, always taking pictures of my girl Bella. I stumbled upon a couple of Facebook groups dedicated to dog/pet photography and learned other people out there had long-established businesses. I started to learn more about it and here I am.
I am my own perfect client because I deeply understand and appreciate what dogs bring to our lives. I want to honor their stories as a part of ours with beautiful pictures of them and us together.
What makes working with pets different from working with people?
Dogs don't know about their imperfections. They just have deep, generous souls full of unconditional love. I feel such joy working with pets, especially dogs. It's also easy to make a connection with the humans who love their dogs so much. My finest moments are getting you humans in my camera frame and finding that sweet moment of connection, celebrating the bond you've found with your dog.
What’s one thing that people (and their pets) should know before they arrive for a photography session?
It's good to get there early and let him sniff around a bit and become familiar with the area, even if it's one of your favorite spots. There's always something new to sniff! It's also a good idea to walk him for a bit right before the session. A tired dog listens a bit better. I also want a few minutes for me and your dog to get familiar with one another. I don't want that to bite into your session time but I also don't want your dog freaked out by this strange lady with a weird looking box in her face.
Where is the best place in Spokane (or the surrounding area) to take photos?
Oh! I have so many favorite places and I'm finding new ones all the time. I really love being able to use my landscape skills to tell your pet's story. I frequent Mirabeau Point Park in Spokane Valley. The Bowl and Pitcher are Riverside State Park is an amazing location. I've started a blog series, #bellaapproved, where I write about my favorite spots with Bella as professional dog model.
If someone is looking to book a special shoot, like for the holidays or to commemorate a pet's big day, how much in advance should they contact a photographer?
It's a good idea to reach out a month in advance to make sure we can get you booked into my calendar. If you're looking for Christmas images to turn into cards, get in touch sooner than later ... like September or October. We don't want to wait until the last minute.
Also, I make every attempt to fit in a last-minute session for pets whom you know will be departing our world soon. Because I know how difficult it is to lose your best friend, I promise the utmost of compassion and a big hug for you and your furkid if needed.
Where can people learn more about you and book your services?
My website, nosesandtoes.com, is the best place to become familiar with my work and my process. There's a handy contact form on most of the pages to make it easy for you!
Thank you so much to Angela for sharing her Spokane story and business! Also, special thank you to Angela for her special care and understanding during this difficult time in our lives in a new city! If you'd like to read more about Molly, us, and see more photos taken by Noses and Toes Photography, visit this post Angela wrote featuring Molly here.