Born into a family of musicians, I was genetically programmed to be an artist. I am also a Gemini. Until about the age of 35, I would fret that I had never found “the thing” that I would do for the rest of my Life. Eventually it became clear to me – a marvelous benefit of aging – that everything I had done up until now, every job that I had held that was completely different than the one I had previously, and every experience that sent me in a totally new direction had prepared me for whatever new adventure lay ahead. This was, apparently, my personal Life Path, and I am an admitted “experience junkie” -- now I sincerely hope that never ends!
Music training began at the age of 3, ending up with a degree from Northwestern University School of Music in Opera Performance. So much for that idea…. Experiencing jobs ranging from police dispatcher to church secretary to corporate management, I searched for my passion. It was dogs. There’s an old saying that “when the Student is ready, the Teacher will appear” – that’s where dogs fit into my Life’s direction. I decided to go to grooming school and eventually owned my own high-end grooming business. After 12 years it was time to move on to the next experience. With the encouragement of my wonderful husband, I began photography, focusing exclusively on the world of dogs that I now knew so intimately, mostly from the relationships I developed with my grooming clients. Plus, it seemed a natural segue as people are so thrilled to see how beautiful their dogs are after a professional grooming, and time and again they would remark “Oh, I wish I could take your picture now, Fluffy!” There you go….and I have been photographing dogs professionally since 2004.
MY DOG WORLD
My mother never let us have a dog. Parents, beware of the consequences when you tell your children “When you’re grown up you can have as many dogs as you want!” My first German Shepherd was acquired as soon as I got my own apartment after college, and over 30+ years and several German Shepherds, I made the decision to “down-size” to Pembroke Welsh Corgis. This Journey has taken me from wanting “just a pet”, into getting a show dog, then going to Wales (the homeland of the Corgi) and bringing back what was to be the start of my breeding program and breeding my own Champion show dogs under the kennel name "Ruaraigh" [which is Gaelic for "red haired" - ironic as I'm a natural redhead]. I have also trained and competed with my dogs in agility, rally, and have begun tracking.
A MULTIFACETED ADVANTAGE
A big part of my photography business is as a specialty (single breed) show photographer. My position as a breeder/handler of my own show dogs gives me a unique advantage in knowing what show exhibitors want in showcasing their beautiful dogs and how win photos are supposed to look.
In my portrait business, I strive to find that special look in the eyes, that tilt of the head, that playful grin which shows the soul and personality of the dog. My passion for dogs – all dogs – is, I hope, evident in my photographic work.
Metro-Chicago, Illinois area is my home territory. We live in far northeast Illinois, just below the Wisconsin border. Most of my portrait sessions are fairly local, within an hour’s drive, and I have a home studio available as well as a wonderful home that backs up to woods for outdoor settings. The dog show business can find me anywhere around the country, and I have traveled from Rhode Island to Florida and everywhere in between!
- Kathryn Brandt
Lake Villa, Illinois