When my son was 8 months old, we got a new member to our pack; a jackrussellterrier called Taksi (yes, that’s “taxi” in Finnish). We were not supposed to get another dog in addition to the two we already had, but Taksi sneaked into my wife’s heart by wobbling to sleep next to my son as soon as she was able to get out of the puppy pen.
The first image I created with two of them together was for the Photographer of the Year -competition in Finland when they both were 3 years old. I had an idea of an Oliver Twist -style poor boy partnering up with a stray dog, but it turned out even better than I imagined, still being one of my favorite portraits. Both my son and my daughter have been models in many of my images since, bringing home trophies from international competitions as well as making good gifts for grandparents. As time went by, it sort of became a tradition to take a picture of the boy and the dog together every couple of years, in different settings, and once even redoing “The Kid” where it all started.
Now that I look back, featuring my kids in my images has been one of the best ideas I’ve had. In addition to being an important part of my career, now we have special memories of planning and making the images together and image by image, I can see my children growing.
In my latest image called “Beginning of an adventure” I built up a story of a boy whose dad or grandad was an airforce pilot. The boy has sneaked up to the attic filled with old toys, boxes, and pictures, planning an adventure together with his faithful dog after finding an old treasure map. For the image, I started creating the background months ago before the photoshoot. Since I did not have access to an attic I envisioned in my head I had to think outside the box and do the whole thing in 3D. For this, I used Unreal Engine and rendered a high-resolution shot of the 3D scene with the software. I collected all the needed props and clothes for the photo shoot, but I was still missing one important item for the perfect look: a pair of old aviator glasses. Finally, my friend Jani from the amazing company Bard & Jester sent them to me and I was ready to put it all together. I spent all of 15 minutes shooting the perfect frame with a help of my “dog whisperer” wife and some hours to put all the pieces together in photoshop.
I’m really happy how the image turned out and even happier to see it as a part of my “Boy and a dog” -series that seems to be building up. Cannot wait until next year and see what kind of story we will recreate then.
Remember to document your children in any way possible and keep those images safe. I can tell you it is so nice to look back and wonder how it was just a moment ago when they were just babies.
Few other images of my son