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Unwavering Courage

Diesel, French police dog dies in line of duty

The French Police tweeted out this image today after the suicide bomber detonated her vest this morning.  Diesel, seven years old, passed away in the line of duty while entering the apartment.

“Perhaps it was the spirit of the time and the place that affected me. But I assure you no occurrence of any of my other battlefields impressed me so keenly. I halted on my tour to gaze on the spectacle, and to reflect on its meaning.  This soldier, I realized, must have had friends at home and in his regiment; yet he lay there deserted by all except his dog. I looked on, unmoved, at battles which decided the future of nations. Tearless, I had given orders which brought death to thousands. Yet here I was stirred, profoundly stirred, stirred to tears. And by what? By the grief of one dog. I am certain that at the instant I felt more ready than at any other time to show mercy toward a supliant foe-man. I could understand just then the tinge of mercy which led Achilles to yield the corpse of his enemy, Hector, to the weeping Priam” – Napoleon Bonaparte

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Cinco C’s | Alpaca

Shorn alpaca photography

There are a lot of important aspects to take seriously while owning a photography business, well, any business for that matter.  Taxes, expenses, marketing, promotion, social media, website, etc.  It’s a constant cycle of balancing attention with need and making sure you are pushing the business as a whole forward and not leaving one portion further behind then the rest.

If you’ve ever seen Pumping Iron (yes, the body building documentary) featuring a confident and youthful Arnold Schwarzenegger, there is a scene where he talks about his objectives while body building.  It’s overly apparent that at the particular time in which this is being filmed, body building is his only focus and the intense fervor in which he purses this niche is inspiring- and a bit daunting.  He is being interviewed about how he builds the perfect physique and his answer is a perfect metaphor for any business.  He talks about specific body parts, his quads for example.  If one quad looks a little bit bigger than his other, he’ll only focus on the smaller quad until it’s of equal proportions as the other.  And when both are perfect he will compare his calf muscles to his quads to make sure they looks right, proportionally.

Running a business, much like building a perfect physique is all about balance.  For photographers, developing and executing a personal project is a very important part of the business.  It keeps your mind sharp, exercises your creativity and gives you the freedom to pursue a specific concept or topic that you might not otherwise be asked to shoot by a client.  More importantly, it let’s potential clients see a different side of your work and what you are able to execute.

I’ve done a few personal projects in the past, and this year I’ve been able to complete two.  Timeout (which came out in April) and the most recent, Alpaca.

There’s something invigorating about switching gears, most of my shoots lately have been in a studio; a controlled environment both lighting wise and climate wise – the only variable being the attitude of your subject.  As much as I love photographing in studio, I needed a break.  I wanted to insert myself into an environment where nothing is controlled and with a subject that I was required to capture more journalistically. I packed up the car and drove 7 hours north west to Port Allegany, Pennsylvania to an alpaca farm, Cinco C’s.

Cinco C’s is nestled in the hills of the Allegany’s and is the home to about 70 or so alpaca, run by Carol and Chris Howard, it was a perfect spot for a personal project.  The goal, to document the lifecycle of the alpaca and crias(baby alpaca, less than a year old) during the shearing process.  What’s a day like in the life of an alpaca, how do the young and old co-exist, how does the shearing process begin, what’s it like to shear an alpaca, physical changes an alpaca goes through during the shearing process.  These were some of the points I wanted to touch on while I was out there.

In addition to this, I also wanted to teach myself motion, or video, while on the farm.  I am still working on editing the video(which was also something I’ve never done before) but I’ve always believed the best way to learn a new skill is to just throw yourself in the mix.

The project was a success, I learned a ton and came away with a new found respect for alpaca farming and the effort it takes to bring alpaca fleece to market.

A huge thank you the Carol of Cinco C’s for allowing me to crash on the farm for a week!

The entire series can be view here

Carol of Cinco C

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Pool Time | Dog Wellness



What You Need To Know Before Your Dog Dives In

At some point this summer, many dog owners will allow their pet to take a swim. And that’s great. After all, a dip in the pool is just as refreshing for your dog on a hot day as it is for you. In fact, you may even want to make swimming a more consistent part of your dog’s summer. That’s because as explains swimming has incredible health benefits for your dog—it’s low impact so it’s easy on your dog’s joints, while also being a great way for them to burn calories and build muscle.

That said, there are a some things you need to know before your pet takes a plunge. Here are a few tips to consider:

Consider having them wear a life jacket. Especially when your pet is just learning to swim or if he or she will be swimming in a natural body of water, a life jacket can be a huge help. provides a few other scenarios in which you might want to put a life jacket on your dog. For example, if your dog has low body fat, it may need the “extra buoyancy” the jacket provides to stay afloat. A jacket also provides support to your dog for when they get tired in the pool or other body of water.

Show them the stairs. The first time your pet gets into a pool you need to teach them how to get to the stairs. The stairs are the only way your dog can get out of the pool on their own. If they become disoriented and can’t find the stairs, they may panic and use up their energy trying to climb out on one of the sides. This can be very dangerous for them and could cause them to drown.  The American Kennel Club provides easy-to-follow instructions to help you teach your dog how to find the pool stairs.

Know the signs of heat stroke. Swimming is a great way for your dog to exercise and you should definitely give them plenty of opportunities to take advantage of it. But keep in mind that the extra time outdoors could take a toll. Time in the hot sun is just as taxing for your dogs, if not more so, as it is for us humans. Make sure they’re staying hydrated by keeping a bowl of fresh water by the pool. And keep an eye out for signs of heat stroke. explains that heat stroke symptoms might include, “heavy panting, drooling, rapid breathing, bright red gums and tongue, lack of balance,” etc.

Rinse them off after the fun. The chemicals used to keep pools clean are essential, but they can also be quite hazardous. This pool chemical safety checklist explains how toxic chlorine can be when it isn’t properly handled. When used in the proper amounts in a pool, chlorine is safe, but there is still the possibility that your dog could have a reaction. To be safe, always rinse your dog off with fresh water when they’re done swimming for the day. That way you can wash away any chemical residue right away.

Summer is a great time for your dog to enjoy swimming and its many benefits. But make sure they can do so safely. When you keep these tips in mind, you can ensure that your pet can take advantage of all the positives that come with swimming.

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Vee Cecil loves sharing her passion for wellness through her recently-launched blog. She is also a wellness coach, personal trainer, and bootcamp instructor. She lives in Kentucky with her family.

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LICK | The Book

Hard to believe that the first images of LICK made their way around the internet in October of 2013.  It’s now June of 2015 and the book is now published and available!

Just a quick thank you to everyone who helped with the book and brought their dogs down to our studio.  Also, a big thank you to Knock Knock, our publisher!

You can order the book through Knock Knock’s website or though Amazon!  Please pass the word around!


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