Editor’s Note: This is a Guest Post by pet photographer, Darcy Evans. See more of his photography here.

As a working professional photographer, one thing I can say for sure is that photoshoots rarely go exactly as planned. If something can go wrong, it likely will. The focus of my photography business is pets, so you can guess that when live animals are involved, this is even more true. I find that it is super important to remain adaptable during shoots and to always keep an open mind to new ideas.

Bring the Outdoors In

Recently I was asked to do a puppy litter shoot for a very good friend and repeat client of mine. The shoot was to take place in the client’s home as the puppies were only 6 weeks old at the time and easier for me to travel to them. I knew this location was less than ideal from a photographic perspective so I planned ahead. It was the middle of winter but I wanted something light and summery for the photos so I brought a fake grass “floor” and a sky blue background.

The location was pretty cluttered but had a very large west facing window. I allowed the natural light to do the heavy lifting in the image, but the first few test shots were too dark and shadowed. I bounced a battery powered strobe off the white ceiling to even out the lighting. I used no modifier on the light as I wanted it to spread out as much as possible. It was set at moderately low power as I was using it as a supplemental light and I did not want to overpower the natural light.

I was pretty happy with the images I was able to create, but then IT HAPPENED!!!!!!

When Inspiration Calls, Answer

Once we had rolled through all the individual puppy shots, I turned around to see one of the puppies had climbed into my Think Tank Airport camera bag and was laying where one of my lenses usually goes. I had seen images before with a kitten or puppy in a camera bag and always thought I would like to try it. Then my client suggested we try to get the whole litter in the bag. I quickly tore down my set and thought the wood floor would make a great background for the image. I left the strobe set up in the same bounce position to fill the space with light. I positioned the bag in the light and we put the first puppy in place. Safety is very important to me so we were very careful to make sure the puppies were comfortable and in no way stressed. They almost instantly fell asleep!

Click to view larger pictures.


The resulting photos went VIRAL. I have photographed over 10,000 dogs in my photography career and these images have been the most shared images I have EVER taken. If I have learned anything from this experience it is to try and make the best of every single shoot because you never know when inspiration and magic can happen.