Finding The Soul Dog Journey Project

2021 has been a journey through grief. This year was one long journey of saying goodbye. I wasn’t ready for it, and I’m not over it. But, sitting here with only two days left of 2021, I can say that because of my journey through grief, I’ve found myself closer to where I’m supposed to be. I’m going to tell you about this beautiful thing I created called the Soul Dog Journey Project, but first I need to tell you about how I found my way to it. It started with a conversation my husband and I had at the beginning of the year. We were lying on our bed talking about our two dogs who were no longer with us, and I got really sad. The grief overcame me, and through tears, I said, “it’s so dumb that they died.” What my husband said next is something that would help bring shape to the journey ahead of me. I shared this story with my community on January 26th, and you can read it below.   “The other night, my husband James and I were lying in bed chatting before drifting off to sleep. We were sharing memories of our dogs Cohen and Delilah (oh the days of having three medium-large dogs in one house). I love these moments, even if it’s still really hard for me to think about the fact that we have to live the rest of our lives without all the dogs we’ve loved. Talking about them helps to push through that sadness, though. As we were recalling some of our favorite stories, I suddenly felt the lump of grief form in my gut and work its way up to my throat. I looked up at the ceiling and said, “It’s so dumb that they died” Without missing a beat, James replied, while looking up at the same spot, “It’s so great that they lived.” And the lump in my throat released into a sigh of relief. I don’t know how else to explain it other than it was like a deep understanding took over me in that moment. It was a reminder of what the experience of loving dogs teaches us: to live. I mean REALLY live. To love what is in front of us, and to carry that with us always. It is so great that they lived, and it is a gift that we got to live with them. A number of my friends and clients said goodbye to the pets they love last year. Today, I’m sending my love out to them, and remembering the beautiful lives they lived together. ❤️ If you said goodbye to your beloved pet in the past year, tell me their name, and we will remember them together.“     Grief is a part of living. The day after I shared this story, my family suffered an unimaginable tragedy when my 16 year old nephew died of suicide. In the days, weeks, and months following the death of my nephew, I thought a lot about the timing of when I posted the story about that conversation with my husband. Sharing it had been an exercise in vulnerability, which for me, is a form of strength. I believe that because I was in a state of awareness around grief, I was able to move through the next few months without completely losing my shit. I didn’t post about my nephew’s death until a couple of months later. It was too hard to find words, but mostly because I needed to move through the immediate aftermath of it.     Grief leads us to light. During all of this, I was coming to terms with the fact that my girl, Kerouac, was approaching the end of her journey here on Earth. Between the months of February and August, she declined rapidly. We could no longer leave her alone, which meant making the decision to limit what we did outside of our home. I chose to limit my availability for photo sessions so that I could spend as much time with Kerouac as possible. It wasn’t easy because I love my work, but it was everything that we both needed. Saying goodbye to my Soul Dog. At the beginning of August, we made an appointment for a senior checkup for Kerouac, and something in me knew what was coming. The night before our appointment, I cried. I told James that I knew it might be time soon, but I wasn’t sure that I was ready to say goodbye. I wanted her to stay forever. The next day, our vet let us know that if we were ready, it was a good time to make the plan to let her go. At some point in the previous month, she had either had a stroke or a brain tumor had developed. Although she was at times her silly, sassy, and snuggly self, Kerouac was no longer living comfortably. She was almost 16 years old and was ready to go. We spent the next two weeks soaking up every moment together. I shared this journey openly with my community because I believed it could help them to see what we were experiencing. I’ve built my work and my life around the idea that our stories are important, and worth telling. During those last two weeks together, I captured as much as I could, so that I would have pieces of my Soul Dog to hold onto forever.   View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Seattle Pet Photographer (@dirtiedogphotography) These pieces brought inspiration and hope to those in my community who have experienced the grief and joy that loving another being brings. Sharing this journey has done the same for me. It is because of my own experiences of love (and grief and joy), and the feedback I recieved from my community after sharing these experiences, that I found my way to the Soul Dog Journey Project.   View

Dog Photography in Seattle: A Dirtie Dog is a Happy Dog

If you want to make a friend in Seattle, get a dog. If you’re not from around here, then you might not know about this thing called “The Seattle Freeze.” It’s the name for the struggle newcomers have in making friends after first moving here. For some reason, Seattleites take a really long time to warm up to new people. If you have a dog, however, you’re in. Your dog is your golden ticket to becoming a local, but it’s also the key to living a wildly joyful life here in the Pacific Northwest. The rain in Seattle isn’t so bad if you love dogs. People who don’t live here think that it’s always raining in Seattle, but what they don’t realize is that it’s actually just raining dogs. For real. We have so many dogs in this city, and it’s amazing. We don’t even care when it rains because our dogs make everything better, even when they drag us through puddles. Or roll in what we thought was mud until we’re trapped in the car for the drive home. Nope, definitely not mud.   Dog photography in Seattle is all about celebrating the joy of dogs. I love photographing dogs living their best lives. It doesn’t really take much for a dog to express their joy. They just need to be doing their favorite things with the people (and maybe other dogs) they love the most, and they’ll give you endless opportunities for beautiful photos. I’ve photographed dogs rolling around in their own backyards, eager to share all their best toys with me. We’ve headed out to some of my favorite parks in the Greater Seattle Area to play in the leaves, smell the spring flowers and swim during the heat of summer. We’ve driven out west to witness the awe-inspiring sunsets at the beach and journeyed east to the mountains to adventure on the trails. Every session holds new meanings of the idea of living a happy life.       We’re not called “Dirtie Dog” just to be cute. To be a “Dirtie Dog” means to be a “Happy Dog.” That is the intention with every one of my dog photography sessions here in Seattle; to hold space for dogs to fully express their joy through the things they love. And to capture it all in photos. Their happiness inspires all of us to spend a little more time celebrating the things that matter most.           Happiness doesn’t always mean we’re smiling. Happiness means we are living. Here, in this moment where we can be free, together. This is where our dogs live, and it is where we must go to fully understand what a beautiful thing we have in living life with joy. To see more beautiful photos of happy dogs, check out this feature of Dirtie Dog Photography by Seattle Refined! Make sure to check out this next post about Happiness by Linda Perdue with VP Shoots Photography specializing in photographing pets and their families in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

Dogs of Camp: every dog is a work of art.

Collaboration is my love language. I talk about this a lot in the various business and pet-related circles I’m involved with because I believe that when you work together with other passionate individuals or groups who are in alignment with your core values, you can create absolutely incredible things that make a difference in your community. I actually talked about this in my post about The Limelight Pet Project last Fall, and that’s a great example of how collaboration can make a difference on so many levels. In that post, I talked about how it has taken years to get to the point where I know myself well enough to recognize the people who are “my people.” Basically, I lead my life and business with my heart and a vision of creating opportunities to do great things in my community. In doing that, I’ve found people who are also leading with their hearts. In the Spring of 2019 I had the honor of collaborating on a project with my friend and fellow passionate, animal-loving human, Lauren Hartley.  Lauren is the owner/founder/artist/freaking amazing creator of All Dog Kind, where she creates art that ultimately celebrates the joy of dogs and gives their people even more to smile about. The heart of her business revolves around the truth that “all dogs, regardless of their breed or past, deserve love, dignity and kindness. ” In addition to being an incredible artist and human, she also donates 20% of the profits from sales to animal rescues and conservation efforts. In short, she’s amazing, and 100% my people. In May of 2019, Lauren and I presented a special collaboration featuring seven rescue dogs from Homeward Pet Adoption Center dressed up as if they were attending the 2019 Met Gala with the theme of “Camp: Notes on Fashion.” We called the finished project, “Dogs of Camp.” We each learned so much from this experience. Mostly, that anything is possible when you work together to create things that bring joy to the world. Thanks to our friend, Tracy, from Pet Connection Magazine, we were connected with local news channel, Q13 Fox News, and were invited to the studio to talk about Dogs of Camp. I wrote the below message on Instagram after our taping. I’m sharing it with you now, over a year later, because every piece of it is still true.   “Here is my truth today: when you create things that come from a place of authenticity, love and magic, the Universe will hear you. I have spent the past five years figuring out what this means for myself and the things I want to build. It all starts with trusting yourself. Then it continues with trusting others through cultivating and building relationships with people who are in alignment with the things your heart wants to put out into the world. It’s about supporting one another and the things we care about. It’s about staying true to what matters most: doing great things for others that can actually make a difference in the world. This is what Dogs of Camp is about for @alldogkind and @dirtiedogphotography as creative businesses, but it’s what is at the heart of everything that we do as humans. Lauren and I were on @q13fox taping a segment about our project today. When we decided to collaborate on a project together, we really just thought it would be amazing to create some cool art together. We did not think about where this incredible journey would take us, but we hoped it could be something that inspires more people to support rescues. I told Lauren after our taping this morning that what I’ve learned from this entire experience is that as artists, when we create something, we are often trying to find an answer to some question or idea that’s rattling around in our creative brains. My question for a while has been: what could happen if two passionate, soulful and inspired artists who believe so deeply in creating work that benefits others were to put their energies together to create something great. What if we could do that, and what if we did do that? I’m still in awe over the fact that we’ve done it. We’re still at such an early stage of sharing Dogs of Camp with the world, but so far it has been amazing. Thank you to everyone who has supported us. Thank you to @homeward_pet for partnering with us. Thank you to @pet_connection_magazine for connecting us to @q13fox and of course thank you to everyone at Q13, especially @lizdueweke who made us all feel so comfortable during our segment. And Tiki. We ❤️ you, you maniac.”     You can view Dogs of Camp here: http://bit.ly/dogsofcamp   You can view our Q13 segment here: https://youtu.be/wo1S4efmKaE   You might be wondering about a 2020 Met Gala collaboration. Yes, Lauren and I had plans to do another project. In fact, we plan to do this every year because it’s just so much fun. We began our 2020  Met Gala project in January, completed our first portrait session in February, had a lineup of Seattle-area foster dogs ready to model in March and were planning a big project reveal event (a Mutt Gala) for the day before the real Met Gala. We put a lot of work into this. And then COVID-19 happened, and any chance of doing in-person work was halted. The 2020 Met Gala was cancelled (it’s scheduled for the first Monday of May each year), and the reveal of the collection for this year’s theme was postponed until Fall. Here’s the thing. We haven’t totally given up on this. We’ve already done the planning for the project, so it’s entirely possible that we will still be able to create the artwork as soon as we’re able to do studio sessions with foster dogs who have not yet been adopted. So, keep your paws crossed that we’ll get to present a 2020 Met Gala collaboration this

That’s Amore: The January/February Cover of Pet Connection Magazine!

Sometimes ideas present themselves to us before we know that they’re here in perfect timing. In December of 2019, I got to put together a special shoot for the January/February North issue of Pet Connection Magazine. It was kind of a last minute situation because there was supposed to be a different cover, but due to the lack of snow at the time the covers needed to be shot, we needed to shift gears. I had had this idea come to me as I woke up one morning before the call came that there wasn’t enough snow for the original cover concept, and when Tracy of Pet Connection Magazine told me they were rethinking the covers, I told her my idea. I wanted to recreate the Lady and the Tramp spaghetti scene, but include the cover sponsor, Roy Robinson Subaru, in a creative way. We first thought we would get a dog couple together, but with such short notice and not wanting to risk any squabbles over treats, we ended up asking my girl, Kerouac, if she and her babies would like to go for a lovely romantic dinner. To be honest, bringing the babies along was a last minute decision as I was packing everything up the morning of our shoot. It might have been the best idea of the day. Some of the other ideas that made these images come to life were putting that blue gel on a flash inside the beautiful blue Subaru, and placing another flash on the ground to illuminate the red curtains. I’ve been wanting to use those red curtains for months, and I’m thrilled with how they work in these images. Of course, the real star of the show is Kerouac. What an absolutely magnificent dog I have. She’s more than that, though. She’s my heart.   It takes a team to pull this kind of thing off. None of this would have been possible without the amazing team who helped me create these images, and I would like to thank them for their incredible contributions to this nutty idea: Tracy Campion from Pet Connection Magazine who made some delicious dog-friendly meatballs for Kerouac and her friends. Tracy also helped to keep Kerouac in place during these shots.  Thank you most of all for being just as excited (perhaps even more) as I was about this concept. You guys should have seen her face when I told her my idea. 🙂 Holly Cook of Holly Cook Photography who helped keep me positive when our first setup was not what I wanted, and then for finding the perfect space where we were able to create this scene. Also for loving on Kerouac and just being an overall amazing support! And Holly’s husband, Tony, for hauling and setting up gear, having positive energy and most of all for hanging out with Kerouac while we got our lights and scene ready. And of course, the folks at Roy Robinson Subaru for letting us shoot in the showroom, for moving cars around for us, and for being such a great support to the community. We love you guys! It’s amazing how much time it takes to get everything just right, and then there are only a few minutes of actual shooting.How long did it take us to shoot these images? Well, if we’re measuring in meatballs, it took about five or six.   My stack of copies of the magazine arrived on my doorstep this morning, and Kerouac has let me know that she’s willing to sign a few for her adoring fans. What a star. Want to check out the digital version? You can do so HERE!

Seattle Dogs In Autumn: Seattle Pet Photography with Marika Moffitt

Here we are again. The time for portraits of dogs zooming through piles of leaves has arrived. The crisp, golden light beaming through trees with brightly colored foliage makes for an incredible backdrop, and the leaves that have fallen to the ground provide endless opportunity for hilarious moments. I love photographing dogs any time of year, but there are not many things more magical than the brilliant colors of Fall. The following sessions are from some of my favorite places in Seattle to capture gorgeous Fall portraits of dogs being their joyful selves. This session with Riley the Golden Retriever was captured at the Washington Park Arboretum UW Botanic Gardens. The leaves were in the perfect state of changing color, and we even had just enough covering the ground to add beautiful texture to Riley’s portraits. The image of the leaf falling next to him is one of my favorites. In this particular spot in the park, the leaves were dropping randomly, and Riley wasn’t sure what to think about it. This moment was a perfect capture for his parents to remember how surprised he was that these things were floating around him. Riley was still a puppy here, so we were witnessing him experience things he had not yet seen in his life. What a gift!   This session with Sugar Man the terrier mix took place at Green Lake Park. I love Green Lake Park because there are so many wonderful little areas to get lost in. When the leaves have begun to cover the ground, everything is transformed to look like a textured painting. We had a beautifully sunny day, so we were able to capture some of the gorgeous glowing light through the leaves. The green grass created a perfect contrast to the yellow leaves which added variety to Sugar Man’s session. This seriously was such a fun session. The final image in this collection was put together with two separate images (yes, I do those kinds of things!). We had attempted a “tossing the leaves” portrait, but Sugar Man wasn’t a fan of it. Your dog’s comfort and safety are always the most important thing during sessions, so if there is an image we are determined to get, we do our best together to find a way that keeps your pup safe and happy! For this image of Sugar Man, after I captured the portrait of him alone, we asked him to move out of the frame while his mom tossed some leaves in the air for me to capture in the same location. It worked out perfectly. This session with Pumpkin and Peekaboo the adorable Pug sisters, took place at Discovery Park in Magnolia. I am IN LOVE with the wide variety of options at Discovery Park. There are so many locations within the park that can be turned into magical scenery for portraits (especially with dogs because they’re so full of magic already). For this session, we met at the South Parking Lot, and took advantage of all the color we could find. My absolute favorite image from Pumpkin and Peekaboo’s session is actually a running portrait of Pumpkin. I love it so much that I had it printed on a large canvas to use as a sample to show clients and display at events. It’s a huge hit with everyone who looks at it because of the pure joy in Pumpkin’s expression.     These are only three of the many locations in the Greater Seattle Area that provide gorgeous backdrops for Fall portraits of your dogs. If you’ve been waiting all year for a session like these, the time has come to book your dog’s magical story session with Dirtie Dog Photography. The best way to get in touch is through the CONTACT page on the website, or email marika@dirtiedogphotography.com for more information about booking your dog’s Fall portrait session.

Your yard does not have to be pretty to be beautiful. Seattle Pet Photography by Marika Moffitt.

Sometimes people don’t believe me when I tell them that we can create incredible portraits of their pets without having to leave their backyard. Believe me when I say this, Your yard does not have to be pretty to be beautiful. It’s about your pet, it’s about the light and it’s about having someone who understands how to capture those things together. To help you see what I’m talking about, I’m going to share with you what my yard actually looks like in all four seasons (I love that Seattle gets four seasons), along with portraits I have created of my dog, Kerouac, in all four seasons.   Winter This is when Seattle turns to mush. The rain gives us mud and barely enough light in the day. Sometimes, though, we get lucky and it snows. I realize that this first example is kind of cheating because fresh snow makes everything beautiful, but I think that it’s a perfect example of harnessing the opportunity to not care what your yard looks like underneath the blanket of white. I certainly don’t. As you can see in the first image, there is nothing special about my yard. It’s a nice size, yes, but most of the things look dead most of the time. Covered in snow, they look delicious, but as soon as it melts, they’ll look not so great. I think the best thing about this portrait of Kerouac is knowing how much she loves the snow. She’s a Siberian Husky, so of course she loves it. What matters most to me is knowing my girl is happy, and having portraits of her in her element makes me happy. Spring I love Spring. I love the birth of new things, and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE WILDNESS of grasses and blooms as the sun rises. Spring is all about the morning light. You can see in the photo of my yard that there’s not much going on from above. The grass is still green (thank you rains of Winter), but there really isn’t much color other than that. The thing that got me out there this particular morning was the way the sunlight was streaming across the grass. I knew there would be magic in those spaces, so I called Kerouac out with me to take advantage of the light while we still had it. I mentioned that I absolutely love the wildness of grasses. That was probably an understatement. Spring is my favorite because things grow so quickly, and when our yard grows out, I can’t stop taking photos of the dog. My husband hates when the grass gets long, but he knows to let me have it until I’m done with it. This image of Kerouac makes me long for early mornings when it’s not too cold to sit on the deck as the sun rises, but you can still see the steam coming off of your cup of coffee. Summer For me, Summer is all about the evenings and the sun’s golden light that kicks up the vibrancy of all things.  We have this patch of bamboo in one section of our yard that mostly just hides a pile of junk. I think Kerouac has a secret hole inside the bamboo patch where she hides her treasures, but I haven’t had the courage to go searching. She’s a dog, so there’s probably something gross in there. This area of the yard is really, not so pretty. And the areas directly around it aren’t that great either. However, when the sun reaches a certain point in the evening,  it lights up that bamboo. To the naked eye, it just looks like sun shining directly onto green leaves, but when you understand how light and textures work together with the right tools and placement of your subject, you get something so beautiful, it doesn’t quite look real. This is one of my favorite portraits of Kerouac. Partly because that bamboo is having a moment of glory, but mostly because that tongue is adorable. Fall This is the magic time of year for portraits. When you get crisp, misty mornings and foliage turning colors you have the recipe for gorgeous imagery. This was another early morning when I saw the light from my kitchen window, and knew I only had a few minutes to create. I actually think my yard looks quite pretty in the first photo. There’s something about beams of sunlight that makes everything look amazing no matter how simple they are. Even the poorly pruned apple tree looks good with back lighting. What you can’t tell from either of these photos is that we now have three large garden boxes in our yard and a small trailer for hauling things parked on our concrete slab. The gardens are amazing, but the trailer is not. Despite having lost some of our shooting areas, Kerouac and I still found the right light to capture. I love this image of Kerouac so freaking much. She looks so strong, it kind of makes me wish I had a photo of myself in this same light. So, whether your yard is professionally maintained, barely touched or someplace in between, we can create beautiful portraits of your pets all year round. Remember, it’s about your pet, it’s about the light and it’s about having someone who understands how to capture those things together.     To learn more about pet portrait sessions with Dirtie Dog Photography, head on over to the CONTACT page or you can give Marika a call at (360) 941-3588

Thank you for loving your old dog.

I love old dogs. I love everything about them. The good, the bad, the smelly. All of it. Give me an old dog to photograph, and I will leave part of my heart with them in their portrait. They will look at me with their soulful eyes, and I will be changed; transformed from every moment that came before our eyes met. Give me an old dog to photograph, and they will leave their story in my hands to carry. I will hold it, and I will share it with the next old dog who sits in front of me to take my heart. And so it will be over and over again as all the dogs find their way to have their stories captured. That is my wish. To see all dogs grow old, and to share their stories.   To the ones who have loved an old dog, You love them even though they aren’t what they used to be. You love them for all that they have been. For all that they have given you. From every one of us who has wished they could have seen their beloved pup grow old and worn. Thank you for seeing yours through to the end. Thank you for loving your old dog.       To learn more about capturing your old dog’s story with Dirtie Dog Photography, give Marika a call: (360) 941-3588 or send Marika an email: marika@dirtiedogphotography.com     

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