It’s not hard to tell where master photographer Kelly Schulze’s heart resides … she signs off email correspondence with a “Peace, Purrs, and Tail Wags,” and she owns Mountain Dog Photography in Monkton, Vermont. Yes, she loves all things furry or scaly, and has dedicated her business to capturing their personalities in portraits.
Case in point: Ivory, the albino rabbit she photographed at the Humane Society of Chittenden County, where she has volunteered her photography skills for several years. Ivory’s red eyes and bright pink skin were shot against a blue background, which Schulze says may have seemed “creepy” to some viewers. At a friend’s suggestion, she changed the image to black-and-white and suddenly had an award winner on her hands. She won the Sunset Print Award at the Vermont Professional Photographers competition for this image, titled Hare Apparent.
“I’ve always been into animals, and I started photography as a kid,” she says. “After college, I figured out how to put the two together.”
Schulze started her business and got involved with the professional photographers’ organization in 2009. She specializes in both portrait and commercial photography work, which she says there’s quite a bit of demand for.
“People often can’t get good photos of their animals — they’re typically blurry,” she explains. “They say: ‘Whenever I try to take a picture, they move away.’ You have to be intuitive about animal behavior.”
Schulze says the clients she enjoys most are those who have a good connection with their animal. “It really shows in the images — I’m able to create really compelling, emotional images.” She currently prints her work on an Epson printer, using Sunset Fibre Rag 335g and Sunset Cotton Etching Paper 285g.
Readers may recall her winning work in 2014, when she won the Sunset Print Award for “All Systems Go,” pictured at left.
“I like doing print competitions because it gets you out of your creative ruts,” she says. “Plus, it helps to call you out on mistakes you continue to make, and you’ll learn that there’s a better way to do it, and you’ll have a better image in the end.”