Photographer Shelley Franklin presents a charming collection of animals in whimsical and humorous scenarios. Find more of her work on her website.
I’m a portrait photographer with a studio located in Scottsdale, Arizona.
A decade ago, I decided to take my lifelong love of photography to the next level and ventured out into business for myself. My intent was to photograph women at their most beautiful, be it maternity, glamour, fashion, etc. As I was working on improving my skills, I would often photograph my family pets. Sometimes my early pet portraits were light tests before client shoots. Other times, they were creative shoots just to have fun with.
I’ve also had a lifelong love of animals. As a child I dressed up my own cat and dog, photographed them and submitted the images to the Iowa state fair. Sometimes it seems like life has a plan for us. Things came full circle, with my pet portraits being my strongest work. It was a natural next step to photograph more animals.
My favorite thing to do with photography is create storytelling images that capture the heart and soul of my subjects. I absolutely love photographing animals. Even when they are nervous or scared in the studio, they are authentically themselves. They never ask me to Photoshop them thinner or a few years younger, which is very refreshing!
Working with animals can be incredibly challenging. Understandably, a studio environment is scary for them. They rarely want to “pose” for more than a second. I began to use Photoshop to composite animals into a scene. It’s much easier than trying to get the perfect shot, with props and set in camera.
Working with animals seems to bring out the childlike creativity I still have in my heart. I truly enjoy Photoshopping animals into whimsical and humorous scenarios. I‘m constantly challenged to develop my skills in order to bring certain visions to fruition. Half of my work is done in studio, and half is done in Photoshop.
My goal has always been to create pet images with a fine art feeling, and that is not something normally seen in this genre. I enjoy creating painterly, storytelling photos of pets with directional lighting to achieve rich shadows.
I accentuate the highlights and shadows in post processing. This, when combined with in studio directional lighting, combines to showcase the texture of an animal’s fur. I work to add lighting that accentuates the catch lights and brings out even more of the deep sweet emotion that can be found in their eyes.
I frequently use classic props like timeless couches and chairs and accessories like pearls, handbags and glasses to add whimsy and humor to my animal portraits. I’m currently working on creating a body of work for greeting cards and calendars so I can share this work with a larger audience.
There is something so inviting about the simplicity, love and beauty of animals. Anything I create that touches someone’s heart or brings a smile to their face makes me feel like I’m doing something right and meaningful, no matter how small the scale may be.