los angeles pet photographer

Georgie in London by Diana Lundin

Family friends gave Oliver a gift certificate for a custom pet photography session through my Modern Pet Portraiture for his dog Georgie. It took a while for it to get scheduled; Oliver, a native of the UK, is a television host who has a heavy travel schedule. Every time we got something on the calendar, it needed to be postponed because of his work.

But Georgie's getting up in years and Oliver was afraid that one day the girl he loved so much would be gone, perhaps before he had his session. And he didn't want that to happen. So we had a shoot at his apartment and on a hill near the beach in Santa Monica.

At my car after the shoot, I showed Oliver Phoebe Lost at Sea -- yes, the very same image on the home page of the Secret World of Pets -- and he knew Phoebe and had seen that image at her owner's house! What a very small world indeed! He asked if Georgie could get the Phoebe treatment. And I regretfully told him since we didn't shoot with that in mind, it might not be possible to create a composite. 

But then I got to thinking... quite a few of the images we photographed of Georgie were against the white wall of his apartment. And Georgie has a short coat. Animals with long or curly hair are pretty difficult to cut out in the best circumstances but dogs with a coat like Georgie's? Not so difficult. 

Oliver isn't from London, per se, but that is where I decided to set Georgie. I figured since Oliver traveled a lot, it would be fun to have her in her dad's homeland. 

Georgie has that air of mystery I love when I create composites. Look at Georgie... she's on the banks of the Thames, Big Ben in the background. What has her attention? What is she looking at? Why is a taxi there? Why is the door open? There are more questions than answers. You tell me. What is Georgie's story?


Pet Photography Composite

Welcome to the Art Gallery by Diana Lundin

I've already tackled the Birth of Venus, that little known work of art by Sandro Botticelli. I jest, I jest, everyone knows that piece. I recreated it with dogs and a Savannah cat and I love it so much, I even have it hanging in the den of the newly remodeled worldwide headquarters. 

But I'm working on another set of famous works of art. I have three squirreled away, ready to be introduced in 2018, and I'm working on two more. But I can't help showing off one of them now. 

Rene Magritte's Son of Man is truly a classic. And what could be better than Son of Dog? 


v1.son of man with logo.jpg

Finny the Super Hero Revisited by Diana Lundin

I met Finny, a Cocker Spaniel, at one of my mild-mannered pet photography events I did in 2015. What impressed me about Finny was his eyes. Oh my goodness, they were so expressive, they were almost human. Because of those eyes, I asked Finny's owners, Tara and Yvonne, if I could photograph Finny. Also, when I met Finny, he was wearing a shirt and I knew I wanted him to wear a costume so he was a dog already comfortable in clothing.

I had just purchased a generic super hero cape and a cartoon type backdrop that had a nighttime cityscape with a giant moon. You can see that image we created on this site. In fact, I'll post it here.

I loved the idea, but the backdrop let me down and honestly I never wanted to use it again. It was vinyl and had wrinkles that were impossible to get out and it had a lot of shine on it. I had to darken the buildings, create yellow windows, add a new star backdrop. It was really a mess so I never revisited that concept.

Until today.

So since then, I've been creating my signature composites. And while I love the cartoon simplicity of the first Finny shoot, well, what's wrong with a little complexity? And actually, all I did was take the bones of that first image and create a secret world for Finny. I just added a night time image of the Los Angeles skyline and a giant full moon with clouds. Same thing, right?

What do you think? I think he really is a super hero. 





How a Composite Image Comes Together by Diana Lundin

I recently entered four of my composite images in a contest and one of the requirements was to show all of the reference images used to create it. Well, first of all, it's not that much fun gathering all of these things together but instead of whining about it, I'm going to show you all four. 

Each of them has the exact photographs or objects used to create the images. Yes, if you're a faithful reader of The Secret World of Pets, you've seen these images time and time again. But now you get to peek behind the curtain. 

The composites take different times to create each one; one took me three days and then was tweaked for weeks. Other simpler ones may take a few hours. Again, it's the tweaking that can take time. I call it polishing the polish. One tiny thing you want to change and maybe only you will notice it can take so much longer than it does to initially put it together. I've heard it said of film editing and I'll appropriate it here -- you don't finish a composite, you abandon it. 

And just as an aside, sometimes composites can look really scary when you're laying them down. You often have to put a lot of "ingredients" into the mix and it is uugggggly. But then you start sizing things, moving things around, change their colors, add shadows, tones and lighting and miraculously it somehow all comes together.

So here are the four!



Love Song

Love Song



Pet Photo Composite: Getting the Band Back Together by Diana Lundin

I did a photo shoot for my client with her two cats and new puppy not that long ago. It was very nice with one of my hand-painted canvas backdrops. The three of them all looked quite spectacular. 

Just in passing, I showed my client this site, The Secret World of Pets, and she was intrigued about having a creation made for her trio. She was a little on the bubble about it but what sealed the deal was her husband gave her lovely diamond jewelry for their anniversary and she knew she had to do something special for him. 

You see, he's a YUUUUGE concert fan. Goes to them all the time. And his favorite band is Phish. So she wanted something Phish-esque. She gave me a kind of "punch list" of things that would be nice to have in the composite. Now, I didn't know much about Phish but I really got myself an education filling this piece of digital art with as much detail as I could research about the band.

Her husband proposed to her right before a Phish concert and at some point, I will not go into details, a hippo with a party hat was involved. She showed me a hippo balloon kind of like what she was talking about. 

So off I went to create this. We had to do a second shoot for this because the first shoot against the backdrop wasn't exactly what we needed, though we did use some parts from it. I suggested my client take photos of the band on her cellphone and we would put the band in the phone screen. Then I suggested she flip her hair and we got a really fun one of that. 

The lead singer of Phish wears glasses and has facial hair and plays a certain kind of guitar. Check. The drummer wears a dress. My client found a toddler Phish dress on etsy and bought that. Check. The bassist plays a specific bass. Check. We didn't have a fourth band member, a keyboardist, so I found a hippo in kind of a dancing position (don't ask; the hippo is actually walking, I just turned it) and put a party hat on it. 

Concerts, it turns out, are hard because if you show the whole stage, the band members look small. If you show it more closeup, band members go missing. Go ahead and look at concert photography, you'll see. It's kind of tough to compose it. 

In the collaborative process, I began showing my client the scene as I went along. She sent me a video that showed a sort of scene she wanted to match. Balloons were involved. I put them in but my balloons were oblong. They needed to be round. I found one long green balloon; in the Phish video, they were white so I drained them of color and made a lot of them. I found another cute hippo and turned it into a balloon in the upper right corner.

Oh, the mini-trampolines! Hard to find. Got 'em.

Once I laid down the ingredients, so to speak, it looked as realistic as Colorforms. Yes, you all are too young to remember Colorforms, but it was a very 2D look. I needed to add lighting and shading. I added new concert lighting to augment what was already in the background so it would give the band members some red and blue lighting.

A few touches here and there and we got our band. Oh, the name SCAMP, which is sort of in one of the fonts Phish uses? It comes from the initials of my client, her husband, and her dog and cats. She came up with it and it was brilliant.

This is a very personal storytelling image. The elements are from my client's life and favorite things. It was really quite a privilege to work with her to put it together as a surprise to her husband. 

I can do it for your pet, too. Send an email to the Secret World's Secret Headquarters in a nondescript ranch house in suburban Los Angeles and let's create your world.

Photo composite of animals in concert.

Lost at Sea, the Series by Diana Lundin

So if you've been to this site, you've already been introduced to the dogs and cats, well, one cat, my cat, who appear to be lost at sea. Phoebe, the Frenchie, is in a crate on a placid sea, looking into the distance. Now my take on this one is she is looking at the coastline in front of her. She will be washed ashore and be saved. 

My friend didn't necessarily agree with my assessment. She says Frenchies can't swim and that she will drown. She said it made her cry. So the next one I created was of my tuxedo cat Kiwi. In this one, I had a helicopter ladder come down, showing that he was being rescued. 

And on the third (there is actually a fourth, which was really the first, but I don't consider it part of this series yet -- just the prototype of these), I had the Irish Border Collie and a Vizsla in the water BUT I also had a life preserver and a boat piloted by another dog coming in for the rescue.

So in my mind, rescue is the theme.

But my friend begged me to change Phoebe. Wanted a school of dolphins coming in to save her. I was resistant. I loved the melancholia. I loved the not knowing what will happen next (even though I know what would happen next because Phoebe is a rescue dog). Those are a couple of things that attract me to photography composites, the ability to create mood and mystery.

But it came down to one is not like the other... not good for a series. So to make my friend happy, I changed it. I found the solution that doesn't go against the original. Now you can see Phoebe is getting help. My friend said it's so beautiful, it made her cry again. It's subtle so it works for me. See if you can spot it.  

When you are ready to plan your own pet photography composite, I'm your photographer. I'm in Los Angeles. Call or write! 818.481.5214 or info@thesecretworldofpets.com. Let's create something amazing!



The Library, After Dark by Diana Lundin

I have another site with my main pet photography, Diana Lundin, and I've always called the digital art that this site is comprised of the "Storytelling Sessions" because I create these composites to tell a story. I love stories. Who doesn't, right? 

So today I created The Library, After Dark. I went way off on a tangent. Originally, I was going to create a book with a dog coming out of it. I thought it would be fun for this site. Well, you never know what's going to happen.

I found a stack of books. Stock art. And then I found a library. Nice, now I have a background. So I began browsing my huge library to find an animal that could be holding a book, reading a book, something. I found a cat. Perfect. But the top book on the stack of books was a closed book. So I found another small stack of old books and it was perfect, the top one is open. The cat is looking down as if reading and it looks like she is going to turn the page. Yes.

The library had a ladder. I found another cat, this one a Norwegian Forest Cat, who was looking up. Great. But she had to be looking up at something. So I kept browsing looking for another animal that's back was turned to the camera. Now this actually taught me something. In composite photography, there are no mistakes. I really needed a back to the camera for the animal to climb up the ladder. You don't generally take photos of an animal's back. That isn't something an owner is going to pay for. But it was the exact image I needed. 

And then to build the mystery, I found a little kitten. She's looking up at the cat on the stacks and, to make it even more mysterious, it appears as if she's at the entrance of a secret door. 

Now how's that for the Secret World of Pets?

Want to tell your pet's own story? Contact me, 818.481.5214 or just fill out my super easy contact form