Canine Fairy Tale

“If its important to you, you’ll find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse.”

Anyone that’s ever volunteered, fundraised, or donated can relate to this quote.

When I read Rudder’s model application, I felt a kinship to his mom Alicia immediately. When an animal’s health was on the line, she didn’t blink at the emotional or monetary costs because an animal’s life is important to her. It’s important to me too.

Alicia found Rudder wandering the streets as a starving puppy. Just to make things interesting, Rudder also had Parvo! I think most people would have turned him over to a shelter or rescue rather than take on the challenge of nursing him back to health, if they even stopped the car to check on him in the first place....“If its important to you, you’ll find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse.” Alicia found a way.

Rudder is a good dog. Seriously, he attained his ‘Good Canine Citizenship’. Once a week he even goes with Alicia to work where her patients love on him because he’s such a charmer! He’s calm, laid-back, and incredibly smart. He enjoys camping and boating with his family. Rudder has a wonderful, happy life, a canine fairy tale.

Given Rudder’s rescue story, I thought it would be appropriate to try and capture some halo-effects through sunlight. So we planned to meet a few hours before sunset to arrange that.

I definitely regretted not doing a portfolio building session at Emerson Point Preserve a year ago, and I thought its dense, lush sub-tropical foliage would help with creating halo-effects. I needed the sunlight to have something to play with and peek through if I wanted to shoot towards it.

The Emerson Point Preserve sits on the southern part of Snead Island in west Palmetto, and is home to the area’s largest Native American Temple Mound, the Portavant Mound. If you’re not familiar with Temple Mounds, you can find more info here from the Trail of Florida’s Indian Heritage website:

You’re able to cross over the temple mound by a wooden boardwalk. The boardwalk hugs a HUGE tree in the middle. If there was any doubt that this was an old space, this tree puts that doubt to rest. If that tree could talk, I’d be an avid listener! Rudder looks pretty small in comparison right?

Emerson Pointe Preserve Temple Mound, Photo by Polar Bear Studio

He has several canine friends, who he knows all by name, as well as a wide family tree that he knows by name. Alicia would run through some of the names, asking Rudder, “Where’s So and So?!” And Rudder would do a heart-melting head tilt, like below.

I think after a while Rudder was probably wondering why we didn’t just invite all these people along if we were going to keep asking him where they were.

Dog at Emerson Point Preserve Temple Mound, Photo by Polar Bear Studio

I knew shooting into the sun would be risky, so I took more photos than I needed, but overall I was very pleased with how the shoot turned out.

I chose this one (below) for the calendar because I like the viewpoint of putting Rudder up higher with the backlit branches behind him. It pays tribute to the theory that the chief may have lived on top of the Temple Mound. I also love Rudders expression and how it invites you to turn to see what's making him so happy.

Dog at Emerson Point Preserve Temple Mound, Photo by Polar Bear Studio

Dog at Emerson Point Preserve Temple Mound, Photo by Polar Bear Studio

We also explored one of the trails on the Tampa Bay side of the park. Another boardwalk, but this time with mangrove trees providing a filter for the sunlight. Some of the paths were very narrow and felt more like footpaths worn down by time rather than official trails. At this time the sun was much lower.

Dog at Emerson Point Preserve Temple Mound, Photo by Polar Bear Studio

Thank you Alicia & Joseph for taking the time to volunteer for this calendar! And thank you for sharing Rudder’s story with me. I hope by sharing it we’ll inspire others to do the same. It’s a happy ending that just warms my heart and I’m very glad to know your furry family.


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