What does it cost to get a Lee Anderson photo of my dog?
Hi! I’m Donna Anderson—Lee’s wife and studio manager. I placed this question first because it’s the one we get asked the most.
Our 2012 price list is below. The sitting fee covers the cost of your 90–120 minute portrait session, and is due when you book your appointment. During your session, Lee downloads the images to a laptop so you can see them right away. We all review the entire shoot together in an attempt to edit the images down to 15-25 of the best shots of each subject. Later, I organize these into a pdf that I e-mail to you (our clients tell us that choosing their favorites from these selects is difficult, but fun). Once you decide which images you want to purchase, you can call or e-mail me with your order. Our smallest photograph fits in a 5 x 7 frame on your desk, and our largest fits in a 20 x 24 frame on your wall, with several sizes in between. Lee prints and signs all of his photographs. To view samples of our framed photography, click on the links below.
Portrait session sitting fee
$295 for one pet
additional pet from the same household = $150
additional groupings = $150 (owner with pet, pets together, etc.)
Framed signed prints—for your desk
5 x 7 print of a 3.5 x 3.5 inch image (framed) = $150 sample
8 x 10 print of a 5.25 x 5.25 inch image (framed) = $200 sample
click here to compare our 2 desk sizes
Framed signed prints—for your wall
6 x 6 image (matted and framed to 11 x 14) = $325
9 x 9 image (matted and framed to 16 x 20) = $500 sample
11.5 x 11.5 image (matted and framed to 20 x 24) = $575 sample
click here to compare our 3 wall sizes
Unframed signed prints
4 x 4 image = $150
4 x 6 image = $150
5 x 5 image = $150
5 x 7 image = $200
6 x 6 image = $200
7 x 7 image = $275
8 x 8 image = $300
8 x 10 image = $325
9 x 9 image = $325
10 x 10 image = $350
11.5 x 11.5 image = $375
Digital files—for web/print (OK to make multiple copies)
4 x 6, 5 x 5, or 5 x 7 digital file = $150 per image.
Do you take credit cards?
Yes, we take Visa, MasterCard and American Express. We also accept your personal check.
How can I book an appointment?
We normally photograph pets on weekends in our Alexandria, Virginia Hollin Hills studio. But we can also schedule a portrait session during the week for you. Please e-mail me or call me at the studio (703 765-8833) to see when we’re shooting and to book your appointment.
Where is your studio located?
We are located about half-way between Old Town Alexandria and George Washington’s Mt. Vernon estate, and about a mile west of the beautiful George Washington Parkway via the Morningside Lane exit. Our neighborhood is called Hollin Hills and our studio is an addition that was added on to the back of our home when Torpedo Factory artist Lea Topping lived here. Torpedo Factory sculptor Pat Monk lives next door and welcomes curious canines and humans into his outdoor sculpture garden, so plan to visit if you can spare the time. We have many ties to this neighborhood as our children are 5th Generation Hollin Hillers.
Feel free to park anywhere along our street, which ends in a cul-de-sac. Our street address is
2409 Brentwood Place
Alexandria, Virginia 22306
and the MapQuest link is here.
How can I prepare my dog for their photo session?
The most important thing is to exercise your dog before we begin in order to get your dog in a calm and submissive state. (Around here we say, “A tired dog is a good dog.”) Some clients arrive early for their appointment and walk their dog around our neighborhood—that works pretty well too. Some people like to have their dog groomed before their session, which we understand, but we think that as long as you like the way your dog looks coming into the photo shoot, you’ll like the photos.
Should I bring treats for my dog with me?
Treats certainly are a motivation for dogs to do what we want them to do, so they can come in handy during a shoot. If your dog is on a special diet or has a preference for certain treats, you might want to pack your own. We generally have a good supply of healthy treats here, and we’ve found that string cheese works wonders too. Even if a dog is cooperating fully, it’s nice to offer a few treats in appreciation. After all, they are posing for us and for our extended enjoyment as we continue to treasure the prints that come out of these photo sessions.
Please explain what happens during a photo session.
We have a lot of fun during a photo session and we want it to be enjoyable for you and your dog too. For that reason, we schedule our sessions in such a way that we aren’t rushed. Sometimes we need extra time at the beginning of the session to get a dog to trust our environment. We encourage dogs to sniff their way around the studio and check the place out—there are lots of new smells here and dogs are entertained by the novelty of all that. Once they’re comfortable, we start taking pictures. After a while we download those images so you can take a peek at what we’re getting. Usually we go back and take more photos, although we’ve had clients ask us to stop there so they don’t have too many to choose from.
Can I schedule a portrait session in my home?
There is a $300 surcharge for moving our studio to your location if you live in the Washington DC area (if you are outside the area, ask us what it would take for us to come to you). Sometimes a location shoot is a good solution if you have multiple pets or an anxious pet who would be more comfortable in his or her own environment. If you have 5 or more pets to be photographed during the same portrait session, we’ll waive the surcharge.
Do you shoot film or digital?
Every day we feel grateful that our professional lives included the shift from film to digital. We only shoot digital. We love digital. We can show you digital right away—you can’t do that with film. We can easily re-touch digital files, which in dog photography always comes in handy. Ironically, we do the most retouching on younger dogs. We’ve photographed several older dogs and we barely touched those images. It almost seems disrespectful to remove any idiosyncracies or “flaws” since there’s a special brand of beauty inherent in an older dog. They’ve earned the right to look the way they are, so we don’t tamper with that unless we receive a special request from the client.
Are your images always in a square format?
Our brand is a black & white square, but if a certain frame is irresistible and it cannot be cropped into a square, we show it to you as a horizontal or vertical rectangle. But the goal is that as Lee’s work gets more recognizable, your friends will look at your framed black & white square image and say, “That’s a Lee Anderson, isn’t it?” We’re already getting feedback that this is happening. So we want to stay true to the brand as much as possible. But we’re also into customer service. So we’re flexible. Perhaps it’s important to explain why the black & white square is so relevant as our brand. Back when our children were very young, Lee often shot black & white film with a Hasselblad. Hasselblad cameras produce a medium format, 2.25-inch square negative, and the prints are beautiful. Here is an example of an image Lee shot of our nieces in those days. When we first got into dog photography, we used rectangular color images in our promotional materials, but one day a close friend pointed to the large black & white square images of our children in our studio and asked why we weren’t marketing Lee’s photography that way. That’s when it first dawned on us that the square format should be Lee’s dog photography brand. The other reason that this format works so well is that it doesn’t look like a snapshot; it looks like art, and people recognize and appreciate the difference.
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Do you also photograph in color?
While our brand is a black & white square, we have fulfilled a few requests for color images. If you’re undecided which way to go, I can e-mail an image to you both ways. In Lee’s 2007 show at Dogtopia White Flint, there were 15 large images and only one of them was in color. That’s why we named the show, “One Pink Tongue: A (mostly) Black & White Collection of Dog Portraits.” Basically that one color image was monochromatic anyway (a black dog on a white background), but that little hit of pink seemed to enhance it, so we went with it in color. But we also wanted people to know we could and would print color. Another pitch for black & white is that you’ll generally get agreement that black & white says “fine art” more than color images, based on the way the technology has developed. Think Edward Weston, think Dorthea Lange, think Yousuf Karsh.
Can you photograph two dogs at once?
As far as getting two dogs in the same image, well...it really depends on the dogs and how cooperative they are. What we do is photograph them each alone and then try them together at various points. You never know what you are going to get—that’s what makes dog photography so unpredictible, but also so exciting. The dogs have no idea what’s going on and they are romping around loose on the seamless, sometimes eating, sometimes running, sometimes hiding, sometimes jumping. It’s chaotic and fun and you get what you get. Click here for a sample of two dogs who we managed to get into the same frame several times. But just to warn you, more often the shots turn out like this.
Can you photograph me with my pet?
Yes! Ask us to email you some samples.
Do you have a dog?
Yes. In fact, our standard poodle Dakota gets all the credit for us shifting our career focus. Here’s a photo that Lee took of Dakota 4 days after we got him from a Roanoke breeder in the fall of 2005. This photo essentially launched our dog photography business because so many of our friends told Lee how he’d be a natural at it. So here we are meeting nice people like you and we owe it all to Dakota.
Do you only photograph dogs?
We’ve photographed several cats, a hamster, a rabbit and a rat, and we’re open to whatever pet you bring us as long as it's relatively tame.
What do you aim for when you photograph a dog?
What Lee and I have learned is that what we most want to convey through our photography is each individual pet’s dignity. That doesn’t mean that the photo can’t be whimsical, but it shouldn’t be totally for our pleasure at the expense of the animal. We also hope that the owner can see their pet’s personality coming through in our portraits.
What does Lee love most about taking pet photographs?
I have to say it’s interacting with all these animals. When Lee was a child he wanted to grow up to be a veterinarian. He was always taking animals home and caring for them. Too much partying in college squelched the vet dream, but meanwhile he had fallen in love with the camera. And while he’s been a professional photographer for 30 years, it was only in 2006 that he began to specialize in pets. So it’s like he’s come full circle.
What do you love about the dog photography business?
I left this question till last because only the really interested dog lover will read this far. Most of all, I love that my husband makes beautiful images of people’s pets that they will enjoy for years to come. But I also love—and have great respect for—the spontaneity of the photographic process. By this I mean that you never know what you’re going to get. Clients come in with a preconceived notion of what they want based on visiting our website or seeing Lee’s work somewhere. But it’s totally up to the dog. And the moment. It’s a combination of whatever the dog is doing plus the exact instant that Lee pushes the button. If you brought your dog here a day earlier or a day later, even an hour either direction, you would get a totally different shoot. So it is what it is—a permanent capture of certain moments on a certain day of a certain year. And when we edit, I’m always entertained by what’s in focus. When you photograph people, you generally aim for the eyes to be sharp. But with dogs, they’re moving all the time and they often have more distance between their eyes and ears and nose. So sometimes you may have an ear in focus, but that ear is beautiful. Noses are really lovely too—all that cobblestone texture—it’s so interesting. So it’s not an exact science, but instead a mix of timing and love and miracle.
I have to add another thing: I love to photo-edit and always have. Back when The Washington Opera was one of my graphic design clients, I used to sift through 500+ images per opera to find the best 8 or 9 to represent the production. Now I do that with dogs. I’m always looking for shots that are truly representative of that dog, but I’m also looking for the more offbeat portrait too. Those, I must admit, are my favorites. When I got married to Lee back in 1989, Lisa Metzger, a friend who is a gifted portrait photographer, gave us a photo session as a wedding present. She said she’d print and frame our favorite image from the shoot. Of course we dressed up in black tie and wedding dress, but during a break, her cat made contact with the toe point of my high heel and she captured it. When she called me to see which image I had chosen, I explained that I had pored through the contact sheets of beautiful portraits separated by this one with the cat, and I said, “You’re going to kill me, but I love the photo of your cat and my shoe.” And it’s a testament to our friendship that she printed it and framed it and delivered it. Of course, we had a ton of other photos taken in our wedding finery by a number of photographer friends, but I cherish this photo like no other because it was art. And it was a moment. And it’s still hanging prominently in our home. When you come for your photo session, make sure you ask me to show you this portrait. There’s even more to the story, which I promise to tell you about...But this is just my way of saying that I love the miracle shots the most. The ones that were just the luck of the draw. Being in the right place at the right time. Our pets give us so much, and their being with us in the studio and helping us produce these memorable images is a testament to their devotion. So when you get my photo-edit, you are going to get a slew of beautiful portraits, but you might also get something totally offbeat too. Just so you know.
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