That time I was published in National Geographic Magazine.

I was in the shower when I got the call. On February 23rd, 2006, a senior editor from National Geographic Magazine left a voicemail informing me that my photo was going to be in the magazine. A few days earlier, I had submitted the photo for their first “Your Shot” photography theme – ”Where I Live.” And I had been selected as a winner. I would be published in the June 2006 issue of the magazine, as well as online. Holy crap. The photo she was talking about was from a walk along the road leading to my mom’s house. It was a black and white image I shot with a point-and-shoot digital camera. And it starred my brother’s cat, Oreo.     When I took that photo, I was just living my life. Walking in nature, taking photos of things I found beautiful. Spending time with animals I loved. Just being present in moments. I was in a time of my life where I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with myself. Actually, I knew I wanted to be an artist – a photographer, specifically. But I didn’t believe it was something I could do for a living unless I went into journalism or worked for some big magazine. I had no idea what was possible. This moment – my art being published – was the catalyst for me making the decision to go after what I loved. It took about a year, but I eventually made my way to photography school (The Rocky Mountain School of Photography) where I learned what it was going to take to do the thing I wanted – be a professional photographer. And of course, it took even more years of overcoming doubts, fears, and other obstacles life likes to hand over, for me to get to where I am today. But I’m here doing what I love – making art and telling stories of animals.     In my conversation with the senior editor from National Geographic Magazine, I learned that one of the editors at the magazine had recently lost their cat. A cat that looked a lot like Oreo. I didn’t understand what that meant at first. In fact, for years I felt badly about it. As if my photo was only chosen because it reminded someone of their cat. I didn’t yet understand that that is more powerful than any other reason to create art. I don’t create for awards or to be published or even just for money. I create art to feel. And to move others to feel something too. I took that photo because it was a moment that mattered to me. And I shared it with others because the story in the image moved me. I felt something beyond just seeing a cat in a photo. I felt home.         Marika Moffitt is an artist and storyteller focused on expressing the spirit of dogs through photography. As the owner of SoulDog Creative in Seattle, Washington, Marika helps clients throughout the Pacific Northwest to honor their journeys with their Soul Dogs with one-of-a-kind artwork. Full of life and movement, Marika’s photographs touch deep within the heart of what it means to live the journey with the dogs we love.   To commission artwork of your dog, cat, or horse, book a consultation with Marika to begin your journey.

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

A love you never grow out of.

I was three years old when I fell in love with horses. My parents like to tell the story of how they knew it was serious when I exclaimed,  “Never in my whole life, have I ever had a pony!”  I had been bitten by the bug. The horse crazy bug. My every thought was so consumed with horsey things as a child, that when I thought about other hoofed animals, I imagined them as horses. Deer? Forest horses. Cows? Boxy milk horses. I remember visiting a tiny island off of Okinawa when my family visited friends there in the early 1990s. We were told that the island was home to wild goats. I was floored. To get to the island, we rode in a small, but fast motor boat. The entire bumpy ride there, all I could think about were those tiny island horses. I mean, goats. Seriously, horses were magic to me. It wasn’t long after announcing to my parents that I wanted a pony, that my parents decided to give in to my sister and me. My parents weren’t rich, but they understood what it could mean for us to grow up with horses.  I got a pony named Rusty, and my sister got a horse named Dotti. Those next few years of learning to ride and care for horses were the best of my childhood. I met my best friend around the same time I got my pony, and we are still horse crazy best friends to this day. The horses of my youth truly helped to shape me into the person I am today. They got me through some tough times, and they taught me how to be resilient. The whole, “when you fall off a horse, you better get right back on” idea is no joke. I fell off of my horses plenty of times (I even have home videos and scars to prove it), and got right back on. I guess it’s a combination of resilience and stubbornness, but still, I’m so grateful for all the things I learned about life through the horses I grew up with. Although I no longer have my own horse, the bug never left me. In fact, it’s a huge part of what drives me to do the work I do. My love of horses led me to purchasing my first subscription to Horse Illustrated Magazine at 8 years old which then led to me being obsessed with the beautiful photographs of horses in every issue. It wasn’t long after then that I knew I needed a camera. And so began my love of photographing all of the animals in my life. Today when I am around horses, or any animal for that matter, I feel like that little girl again. Giddy with excitement for the new animal friends I’ve made. For as long as I have lived, I have always felt as if I am living in their world. I am a guest, and if only they will let me in, let me understand them, then I will be a part of that world. I especially felt this when I saw wild horses up close for the first time. I wrote a blog post titled “To Dream of The Wild” about the first time I met wild horses living at the Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary. It was an experience that came into my life at a time of great transition, when I was incredibly vulnerable to the realities of taking the leap toward my dreams. It was the perfect moment for me to learn from the wild ones, and to bring home all that they taught me. A few months after visiting GEMS, my husband and I went on a road trip through Eastern Oregon, and eventually found ourselves in the Steens Mountain Wilderness staring at a herd of wild horses. It was so freaking magical, I can’t even explain it without wanting to cry. I watched two wild foals chase each other through the grass and around their mothers. This was the moment when the dreams of Little Marika came true, and I was reminded that no matter how old I get, the magic of animals will be just as strong as it was when I was a little girl.

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