Friday, September 7, 2012

Artsy Fartsy Friday - Art into Fiction, with Animals!

Jay, the prototype for Jay in my mysteries.
Photo by Cheryl Ertelt, 2008.
As I write this, I'm wrapping up the sequel to Drop Dead on Recall, my first Animals in Focus mystery, which will be out in October. Although the series is not art-centric, Janet MacPhail, my protagonist, is a photographer specializing in animals. She makes her living photographing pets for their owners, photographing show animals posed and in action, and photographing domestic and wild animals with hopes of selling her shots to publishers of various kinds. She doesn't take "art photos" exactly, but she is definitely an artist with her camera, able to capture the essence of many of her subjects through expression, posture, that part-luck, part-skill shot that says more than words.

I am a very amateur photographer, but fortunately I have several friends who are real life animal photographers, and they have been inspirations and sources for my fictional Janet. (Caveat - the booboos Janet makes are my fault, not theirs!) For one thing, they've told me stories about photo shoots that I've pilfered for ideas. Some are hilarious, some are terrifying, some are infuriating, (the last usually because of people, not the animals).

Lily, photo by Cheryl Ertelt, 2008.

Cheryl Ertelt, who I knew first from obedience club - she has Flat-coated Retrievers - and then for her gorgeous photos, is one of my inspirations. If you've bought or looked through dog magazines and calendars, chances are you've seen Cheryl's photos. She also travels to nifty exotic places to photograph wildlife, and even leads photo trips for aspiring photographers. Cheryl lives in Indiana; you can see more of her work at her website, Photos & Phrases.

One of Helen Peppe's gorgeous photos.
My friend Helen Peppe takes gorgeous photos, and I especially love her work with dogs and horses. Like Cheryl, Helen sells some of her photos to magazine and other publishers as well as to the proud owners of many of the animals. Helen is also a writer, and I've pestered her a few times for esoteric photographer-y details so I don't over-expose my ignorance! Helen has been a guest poster here twice, and you can see more of her work on Facebook at Helen Peppe Photography

Happy shot! by Helen Peppe.

There's an exhibit of art featuring birds in the book I'm now revising, and that brings in another whole angle on animal art. Since I paint animals myself, it's been fun designing an exhibit and thinking up paintings, drawing, and sculptures that I would like to see. And now, back at it! Have a creative weekend - go photograph some critters!


  1. Wonderful pictures! I especially love the one of the horse.

    1. Sandra, take a look at Helen's FB page for more horses. Cheryl also has some nice wildlife and pet pics.

  2. The pictures really capture the emotions animals have - I wonder if you need to have owned or been owned by an animal to "get" that they have such strong feelings?

    1. You have to have your eyes and mind open, in any case!

  3. I LOVE the picture of the dog! You can tell he adores the camera and he is so happy!