Bark Pet Photography Blog

It’s P.L.A.Y. time! by Sarah Sypniewski

Sometimes, it seems that no matter how many different stores we visit, we end up with the same selection.  Unique inventory is hard to come by, even among the boutiques.  That’s why, when we saw dog beds made by newcomer SF-based P.L.A.Y., we had to take the time to write to founder William Chen to give him four paws up for his rockin’ modern design that we hadn’t seen anywhere else.  We totally scored when William wrote back to say he’d let our pack (3 chi mixes and a Pittie) test some of his stuff—4 of the Cotton Candy small dog beds and 1 of their best-selling Urban Denim large dog beds.

Can I just say we all love them?

We use them inside—in fact, I have the yellow Cotton Candy bed on my lap as I type.  Our 10-year-old Kali loves to lie on it while I work…and the Urban Denim is less than a foot from my chair, complete with nesting blankets, in position for 65-pound Delilah, although at the moment, 6-pound Piko has claimed it.


Delilah the Pit Bull loves Urban Denim

Delilah enjoying a rare Chi-free nap on Urban Denim

We use them outside—we’ve got the blue Cotton Candy on our front porch for when Sammy wants to sun or Kali wants to sit on our Adirondack chairs (if the bed isn’t on the chair, she will refuse)…and when the dogs get too yappy in the front, we’ll move them to the backyard.

Piko and Delilah share some Cotton Candy

Piko and Delilah sharing Cotton Candy in the backyard

We steal them to use as our own pillows when we’re watching TV.

We offer them to our guests to sit on during game night—they love them too.

They have stood up to digging, to sliding, to mud, water, and slobber (and dog drool, too).  They haven’t faded in the sun or lost their shape from when I fold them up behind my head.   Also, for this review, I threw one of the Cotton Candy beds in the washer and dryer, even though it didn’t need it.  It came out of the dryer a little “fluffy,” as though the filling got all crazy with the heat.  I’m sitting on it now, though, and it’s going back to its original dimensions.

We can safely proclaim that these offer both beauty and brawn.  Phew!  Nothing’s worse than a hot guy who can’t bench press his own house (what?  What does that even mean?  I think I might be watching too much Jersey Shore).

Snooki and the Juiceheads aside, these beds are the shizz.  They are hot, they are strong, and they are better than tan; they’re green—yep, check out how many recycled plastic bottles go into each bed.

Sammy shows off the Green

Sammy loves the cleverness of how Green the green is

William and his team (including Momo the Pug) are experts in manufacturing, design, and doggies.   They’ve ditched the shortcuts in favor of creating a product that shows off intense attention to seemingly small stuff, like seams, stitching, and thick zippers.   But as our pack can attest to, it’s these little things that add up to big payoff.


The greatest seams on Earth

See how all the seams line up? That little details sets P.L.A.Y apart.

They might be a little pricier than your average bed, but still the deal of the century, as you’ll be hard pressed to find another one that can even come close to competing with P.L.A.Y’s line.  As luck would have it, though, they are running a contest for a FREE bed, so get on in there and git you one!  Now, if only they’d hurry up with the Chicago skyline design

Kali waits for the lap...and Chicago

Kali waiting for my lap...and the Chicago skyline

For more photos of our great adventures with our P.L.A.Y. beds, visit our Facebook page!


Keep Your Pets Safe This Holiday Season…or they might cut you by Sarah Sypniewski

The TSA is feeling people up, the commercials for 3 am doorbusters are on loop (“Mountain series.  Level 10.  Backwards.”), and weird weather has unleashed itself on all corners of the country.  This can only mean one thing: the holidays are upon us!

Amidst the shopping lists, relatives filing in from far-flung places, and attempts to impress the in-laws, we can’t forget to do some deliberate planning to make sure our pets are safe and sound this season.  You’ve spent all year being good so you can get the XBox Kinect and a trio of Singamajigs; you don’t want to blow it right at the end because you killed Fluffy.

We’ve put together a little list to help you avoid the guilt that comes with being a neglectful parent (though we can’t do anything about the kind your mother will heap on you; sorry), so have at it!

Joking aside, pet safety is definitely an important and serious matter, and if you take a few minutes now to think about things, you can make the holidays happy and safe for everyone.

  • Resist the urge to let the little ones join in on the feast.  They might be pretty successful in convincing you that they haven’t eaten in months with one pathetic look.  Believe me, you’re the one who’ll be looking pathetic when you’re dealing with explosive diarrhea and projectile vomiting while trying to get dessert on the table.  Worst case scenario, little Kali could end up with a pancreatitis attack, which can be fatal.  Between the sudden diet change and the massive amounts of fat, holiday meals are just plain toxic (and they’re bad news for pets, too).

Cat Vomit sign

  • That goes for bones.  Though they are oh-so-savory and delicious, they are just plain dangerous.  They can splinter and puncture your poor little guy’s insides (that’s assuming he gets it all the way down and doesn’t choke on it first).  Unless you have a Brontosaurus femur hiding in the back of your freezer, bones are a no-no.  Not every pooch or feline (or bunny or snake or bird or pot-bellied pig) will be as lucky as ol’ Snot in National Lampoon’s Christmas vacation.  Instead, give them something that’s designed specifically for your type of pet.

Don't eat the cartoon dinosaur!

  • Snot’s got another little example of what not to do–and that’s the classic trash can rifle maneuver.  Things are going to be a little crazy, and the last thing you need is a redecorated kitchen à la garbage (very urban, but not so chic), which is bound to happen if you leave your pets unattended around the amazing smells of leftovers that are wafting just at their nose level.  Though it certainly led to much hilarity and hijinks in the movie, I doubt Chevy Chase will be sitting at your holiday table so the humor will just be completely lost on everyone except maybe the cat who tore into that sweet-smelling abyss of carcasses and casseroles.  You might as well bite the bullet, throw on a coat, and traipse outside to take the trash out right away and just head that little nightmare off at the pass.  You have permission to gloat as you pass your pet on the way out.

  • Speaking of the way out, if your pet likes to play welcome wagon and greet all visitors, make sure you have a tight grip on him as people come and go.  Also be sure to keep a collar with current ID tag on at all times, in case he gets you back for that little move you made with the trash and darts.

  • Another thing you can consider doing for people who haven’t met your pets before is provide them with a little tip sheet via email, like I did.  Now, yours doesn’t have to be a 6 paragraph essay that details each pet’s personality (yes, I’ll admit it–I’m a little neurotic), but a few pointers sent ahead of time like “don’t bend down to pet Sammy; let her come to you” or “if you value your hands, don’t stick them in Piko’s cage” will go a long way.  Luckily, my family is full of dog people and they understand my neurosis, so the email generated quite a fun thread of discussion that I was included on, instead of secretive “reply-all-except-take-Sarah-off” responses or sudden declined invitations.  Now, I know that while the intros won’t feature any sort of polished choreography, I they will be as stress-less as possible.

  • You might also want to set up a few extra beds or quiet areas in the corners of various rooms for your pets.  Their usual favorite spots might be overwrought with relatives you don’t like and that weird neighbor you had to invite because you borrowed his electric mixer.  Consider also getting some extra toys or something new to occupy your companions while they wait for the party to clear out (who says you can’t buy love?).

This is what I WOULD be doing if you weren't here. Jerks.

  • Don’t forget about their regular needs.  I know this sounds totally basic, but I’ve gone to many a party where I’ve seen dry water bowls or stares locked on the food bag because their owners are too caught up to remember their routine.  To avoid guests going rogue and giving your pet the entire bag out of guilt (like I’ve been known to do), maybe set a timer or put it on your list to feed your pets, take them to the bathroom, and check their water frequently.

Water. Please. I'm. Dying.

This isn’t an end-all-be-all list.  It’s just meant as a little primer to get your wheels turning.  If you have a tip or idea you want to share, feel free to comment; we’d love to hear from you–especially if you can work a movie reference into it.

Be safe out there and happy holidays from all of us at Bark!

Rolly Polly…. by Kim
February 28, 2010, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

What’s cuter than a rolly, polly, chubby pug?  How about my rolly, polly, chubby nephew Aidan WITH his pug-sister Libby!  I shot these over the holidays when I was home in NJ visiting the fam.  We started out photographing Aidan but knew it was only a matter of time before Libby got in on the action!

“Can’t You Just FALL or Something?” by Sarah Sypniewski
January 9, 2010, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Birthday Surprise, Client Shoots, Shepherd Mix

We just got back from a great shoot.  And by great, I mean AWE-some (sing it for extra emphasis). I guess we should’ve known we were in for something special when the driving instructions the clients gave us included “our house kind of looks like an office building.”  We turned down their street, and as we drove past factories and warehouses, I got a little panicked.  I didn’t see any offices, any houses, or any office-like houses.  And then I did.  At the very end of a tiny industrial street on the west side of LA, there it stood: 3 stories of beautiful steel and beams–a live/work loft that would make any architect or artist drool like a Mastiff. 

I grabbed a few more gratuitous glances at it as we waited for our security clearance.  See, Kim had to call the clients to announce our arrival because we were keeping the shoot on the down low.  A mother-daughter pair booked us to honor their husband/father’s upcoming birthday.  They’re going to present him with the finished products in a few weeks!

We’ve done surprise shoots before, so it wasn’t anything new in concept.  But what WAS new?  Um…well…ol’ husband/father (let’s call him HF for short) was there.  As in, in the HOUSE while we were shooting.  Yep.  Somewhere in that beautiful structure, HF went about his business, oblivious to us (thanks to Son, who kept him occupied somehow).

Kim and I had a lot of fun with Della and Cody, beautiful Sheppy mix girls.  While Della fronted at first, she quickly morphed into a supermodel before our eyes as she showed us her best Zoolander faces.  Cody was more timid than her sister, but overcame her fear of the c-a-m-e-r-a (yes, you have to spell it; otherwise, she goes charging into her crate when she hears the word.  Cellphone cameras, we’re told, are her worst nemeses) when we let her play ball.

We did the outside shots first, and were about 5 minutes from being done with the den when we heard a precarious knock at the door.  Mom called out, “who is it?”

“Me.”  It was Son.  “You’re out of time.”

HF was apparently on his way up.  Luckily, we had gotten plenty of shots, but we still had all of our lights to pack up.

Daughter started panicking–“well, go stall him some more!”

“No…it was hard enough to keep him out of here for as long as I did!  What am I supposed to do?”

“I dunno…tell him there’s something wrong with your computer and you need him to look at it.”

“But there’s nothing wrong with it!  He’s too smart for that.”

“Come ON!  You’re going to ruin the surprise!”

“Well, what do you want me to do?”

“I don’t know!  Can’t you just FALL or something?”

“What…you want me to break my leg?”

Meanwhile, Kim and I are ripping power cords out of walls and collapsing light stands like our lives depend on it.  I narrowly miss impaling my own eye with one of our umbrellas by a centimeter.  We release the dogs from the den as a feeble ploy to both distract HF and give some impression of normalcy. 

Daughter realizes the futility and goes off to try her hand at keeping HF at bay.  Mom decides she should take us down the back stairs and runs off to make sure she knows the code to the gate.  Son stands by and helps Kim and me exit swiftly and soundlessly.

It was a pretty hilarious sight–I’m tiptoeing down the stairs, praying that the Pelican cases I’m carrying don’t freakishly swing through their glass walls and Kim’s right behind me with her camera backpack and all the loose odds n ends spilling out of her arms.  Mom is waiting for us at the bottom and half-giggles, half-hisses to me over her shoulder, “HOW MUCH DO WE OWE YOU?” 

“THREE FIFTY,” I giggle-hiss back over my tiptoeing. 



We stop outside just long enough for Mom to write the check, sign the release, and let the dogs do a few laps around the car that is serving as our writing desk.  They have no idea what’s happening, but they sure think it’s fun!

We stuffed the check and paperwork in the bag, Mom folded the product catalogue up in her pocket, and we went running off into the industrial-come-residential sunset.

 It was a great way to spend a Saturday evening.  Thank you!

Names have been concealed to protect the mischevious generous.

It’s snowing! by Kim
January 6, 2010, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Golden Retriever, snow, Wisconsin

While traveling for the holidays I squeezed in a few photo sessions for friends of ours, and this one happened to be my very first experience shooting in the snow!  And honestly, I must say it is A LOT harder – especially taking into account the fact that we really had no snow gear with us and ended up borrowing snow-suits that were about 10 sizes too big.  It was a ridiculous sight as I fumbled around with a camera stuck in a mcgyver-style-plastic-bag-contraption fashioned to protect my camera from the elements (which were heavily coming down).  The three golden retrievers in this shoot are our friend Tracie’s dogs, and they just so happened to be the most obedient dogs on earth.  I think they may be modeling on the side without Tracie’s knowledge.  We first spent some time shooting indoors and when we finally mustered up the courage to venture out into the Wisconsin snow the dogs were more than ready to run and play.  They actually seemed at home out there in the snow with their long wintery coats…every once in a while one of them would just plop down with a big goofy smile on his face as if he were soaking up each and every snowflake like my chihuahuas back in california soak up the rays. Hanging out with these three really was a treat! Without further ado meet Hercules, Riley, and Jesse!

Who’s Fizzgig? by Kim
December 9, 2009, 4:45 pm
Filed under: Holidays, Pussy & Pooch

So I have a confession to make….apparently I missed out on a little phenomenon called Dark Crystal.  Never saw it and had no idea what Bethanie and Sarah were talking about when they started calling cute little Annabelle “Fizzgig”.  After doing some research, I must say the resemblance is striking. For the full effect you have to imagine Annabelle making this surreal purring noise as her mom rubs her cheeks to elicit the “fizzgig face”.  HAHAHAHA I was laughing so hard I could hardly take the photo!

Fizgig or Annabelle?

Howliday Sessions by Kim
December 8, 2009, 5:14 pm
Filed under: Holidays, Pussy & Pooch, Weimaraner

The Howliday shoots are complete….I think we ended up with a total of 15 clients in two days!  Now in the process of editing all these photos and wanted to share Lola with you.  She’s a 10 year old weimaraner, but boy you wouldn’t know it!  She is totally high energy and full of life.  She has the most beautiful coat and I absolutely loved photographing her!