Me with my muse, Bailey!

About Allison Shamrell Photography:

Thanks for visiting my blog! My name is Allison, and I work in San Diego, CA, capturing the personalities of dogs and cats of all sizes & temperaments. I do photo sessions on location and in-studio, wherever my clients prefer! My photography style is natural, playful & soulful.

Here on my blog, I tell the stories of recent sessions and events. You might even find an insight or two into the behind-the-scenes side of my business! I hope you have fun looking around!

If you would like to receive a quick little email to let you know when I publish a new post, see the button at the bottom left of this page! Thanks! :)

619-357-6624  ~  Allison@AllisonShamrell.com  ~  3251 Adams Avenue, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92116

Officially Voted the Best Pet Photographer in San Diego, 2014-2016, by the San Diego A-List.

Tag: ‘beach’



Vacation Pet Photography Session with Violet! (San Diego)

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

I met the most beautiful & happy-go-lucky dog recently! Violet is here in San Diego with her family, on vacation from Tucson, Arizona. They’ve been renting a house on Coronado while they’re here – what a place to relax, right?! So we chronicled a bit of their time here in San Diego – as well as Violet’s mature good looks & laid-back personality – and I’m loving the photos from our session. So while I don’t often get to meet with families for vacation pet photography sessions, it’s definitely a lot of fun!

I don’t have the time to tell you much else about Violet – since her parents are coming over to see her images in only 2 days! (Usually it’s 2 weeks!) Eeeek! Gotta get back to work – but don’t worry, her sweet eyes say it better than I could anyway. :)

 

This is Violet, amongst the rose garden in Centennial Park in Coronado. Isn’t she gorgeous?!

vacation pet photography

 

We explored the Coronado neighborhoods a bit…

vacation pet photography

 

… before heading to Sunset Cliffs to finish our session! (And the colors in the sky came out to play, too!)

pet on vacation

 

Violet, it was lovely to meet you while you’re here on vacation! I’m excited to see you & your parents again very soon!  :)

 

Pork Chop the Hound Mix from Tucson, Arizona

Monday, June 26th, 2017

Life is so unpredictable, isn’t it?

At the beginning of last week, I didn’t know that I’d be meeting Pork Chop, the sweet hound mix, at her favorite spot in Ocean Beach for a photo session.

Pork Chop’s mom didn’t even know that she’d be calling me for a photo session.

But things change quickly when you get bad news… especially if it’s a diagnosis. And I’m heartbroken to say that Pork Chop got bad news at the vet last week. 9 years old is far too young to be diagnosed with cancer… but her mom acted quickly and we met less than 72 hours later. Which is definitely NOT the circumstances in which I would have wanted to meet them, it’s not a scenario I’d wish upon anyone – but in the end I’m so glad that I got to meet this sweet girl and her mom.

Pork Chop lives in Tucson, Arizona – which is a pretty far distance from San Diego! But she and her mom have made the road trip out here several times in the past, so they hopped in the car again and didn’t stop until they reached their favorite place: Ocean Beach dog beach! They love relaxing in the sand and watching all the people & dogs play in the water together. Pork Chop doesn’t run around much; she’s always been a calm, even-keeled dog who’s happy to simply be right by her mom’s side. (Except when they walk around, haha – Pork Chop quickly forms a single file line right behind her mama! It’s like her favorite game is “follow the leader”!) So I joined them for a classic trip to the dog beach, which included a few brief spurts of energy and plenty of rest breaks. (And maybe a little spontaneous crying from her mama – and me, too.) But we had a fun time – despite the circumstances – and I’m loving the images we created together.

 

Pork Chop can still run through the waves! It’s not as easy as it used to be, but she can still move like a young dog!

hound mix

 

You can’t tell from this photo, but Pork Chop really made me work for those ears. She’s a crafty lil’ lady.

hound mix beach photo

 

There’s just something about sandy paws…

hound mix paws

 

… they’re almost as cute as a sandy face.

hound mix close-up

 

Laura, thank you so much for introducing me to your sweet girl. I’ve been thinking about you both recently – I’ll talk to you soon! :)

 

Ekin the German Shepherd! (Photos)

Monday, June 12th, 2017

When I first met Ekin, he was a little shy. He’s gorgeous, smart & attached to his mom Tara – but a bit reserved, the first time you say hello. (And that’s okay! I’m always happy to move at whatever pace makes a dog feel comfortable.)

But then we met up for his photo session, at a local park – and he definitely wasn’t shy anymore! When Ekin goes to the park, there’s only one thing he wants: his ball. So as soon as we stepped on the grass, he started bouncing around & looking at the bag of goodies his mom brought with them, knowing exactly what’s in there! Relaxation? No thank you. Treats? Nah. Training practice? Not on the agenda. Snuggle time? Doesn’t hold a candle to FETCH! So we quickly gave in and let Ekin do his favorite thing. And why not – we were there to play, anyway!

Then we were able to settle in for some slightly-calmer portraits – which was truly only possible thanks to all the training he & his mom have done together. Ekin is her first dog, and she knew from the beginning that she wanted him to be impeccably-trained. This process started back when she adopted him, through grad school (he was her little study buddy as a puppy!) and still continues today. Tara & Ekin are learning that training is never “done”, it’s always a work in progress, but they’ve made incredible leaps & bounds together. Ekin is one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever worked with, to be honest. And to show for it, they have an awesome bond. Plus – want to know the best part? Since Ekin is only 2 years old, I know they have a long, happy life ahead of them. Yay – I’m so happy for these two, and thrilled to have met them both! :)

This is Ekin, the sweet, handsome (and lanky) German shepherd. He’s gorgeous, right?!

german shepherd dog photo

 

Then we headed to Coronado beach! We actually went on a separate day, since the weather wasn’t cooperating after we finished at the park, and I’m so glad we both had flexible schedules. Look at that stunning blue water next to the warm tones of Ekin’s coat! I love it!!

german shepherd running

 

It was a stunning afternoon.

german shepherd in San Diego

 

Oh, Ekin. You’re such a good boy. Even with tons of sand in your face.

german shepherd photo

 

Tara, thank you so much for introducing me to your sweet boy! I had such a great time with both of you! Talk to you soon! :)

 

Best Pet Photography Session Locations in San Diego, CA

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

bet pet photo locations san diego

 

I’m excited to share some of my favorite local spots around town with you! If you’re considering booking a pet photography session for you & your family, this will (hopefully) be a super-helpful source of ideas – or maybe the perfect memory jogger for that great spot you already know about! In any case, they’re the best pet photography session locations I know, so I think you’ll like them too!

 

For Any Pet: Your House!

best photo session location home

Your pets are most comfortable in their home, so why not cozy up on the couch for your photo session? I’d love to photograph your dog in his “natural habitat” as he runs around in the backyard, relaxes in the living room, and even snuggles into your bed (if he’s allowed!).

If your dog is uncertain of new places, or especially shy around new people, or elderly – or if you have a cat – this is probably the best place to be! And don’t worry about your hone not being photo-ready: I’ll be focusing on your dog, not the bits of clutter & dust in the corners of the room. But if your dog is highly territorial, or not allowed on any of the furniture, or you don’t have any backyard to speak of, or if you’re a contender for a future episode of Hoarders, keep reading…

 

For Active Dogs: the Beach!

beach for best pet photography session

We live in San Diego, for goodness’ sake! Let’s go to the BEACH! Whether you live near Coronado, Ocean Beach, Fiesta Island, La Jolla, Del Mar, or Encinitas – the beach is most likely a part of your lifestyle here in Southern California – so let’s GO! I looooove the beach! :)

If you have a retriever of any kind, or simply a pup that loves to run, swim & fetch, I’d be happy to meet you on the shores of San Diego. And since dog beaches are typically not ideal locations (because there are always a million of other dogs & distractions there), I know a bunch of dog-friendly beaches around town that aren’t packed with pups! Although if you have a dog that doesn’t like water, or can’t swim (coughbulldogscough), or simply doesn’t have the energy to run through the sand, this may not be the ideal location for your photo session. Keep scrolling…

 

For Any Dogs: the Park!

best pet photo session parks

We’re so lucky to have an incredible selection of gorgeous public parks around San Diego, and they’re all so diverse! Our parks have green grass, flowers, architecture, and plenty of room to run, depending on where you go… or maybe there’s a new park in your neighborhood that I’ve never visited with its own hidden treasures?

Every dog looks great on a backdrop of green grass. Seriously, all of them. The park is literally always a win (unless your dog can’t handle being outdoors for some reason). Just like the beach, I stay away from dog parks, and prefer parks that just happen to be dog-friendly instead. We’ll keep your dog safe whether we can trust him off-leash or not, and end up with a great variety of images that have a natural, classic feel. Bonus points if your dog has already been to the park we pick, and feels comfortable there from the get-go. You can’t go wrong!

 

For Outdoorsy Dogs: Hiking Trails!

best pet photography hiking session locations

My dog, Bailey, is an explorer. She’s happiest when she’s out in nature, sniffing everything, and discovering all the secrets of a new place. (And stumbling upon a wild rabbit is the icing on the cake, haha!) If your dog is anything like Bailey and loves to be out in the wilderness, let’s go hiking in one of San Diego’s many canyons & trails!

If the words “hiking buddy” describe your dog, this can be the perfect location! And there are plenty of trails around San Diego to choose from. But if your dog isn’t the “active” type, could run the risk of overheating in the sun, or has an obsessively-high prey drive, a trail might not be ideal after all. Read on…

 

 

 

For the Modern Dog: the Studio!

best pet photo session studio

Last but certainly not least, the studio is a fabulous location for a modern, fun photo session! The uncluttered, solid-color backdrops let your dog’s natural beauty shine through; there are no distracting visual elements. It’s all about your pet. Simple, classic & timeless.

The studio is perfect for dogs of all energy levels (yes, really!) that are comfortable in new environments. It’s the safest environment possible, since it’s totally private, 100% secure, and free of any major distractions. If your dog can’t stand the sight of other dogs, this might be the perfect place! But if your dog stresses out in new places, is scared of lightning (not thunder, but lightning, since I have two strobe lights in the studio) or simply comes alive when they’re outdoors & free – this place might not be ideal for them.

 

 

For the Discriminating Dog: another unique place!

pet photography session locations

I know several places in San Diego’s neighborhoods that don’t fit in the above categories. Sunset Cliffs, Old Poway Park, East Village (downtown), Cedros Avenue (Solana Beach), local marinas, military bases, luxury hotels, the Sweetwater Bridge… the possibilities are endless. Let’s get creative!

 

And remember: all this being said, I LOVE to discover new places. If you have a different location in mind – even if it’s far away – don’t hesitate to ask!

 

One more thing to consider:

At the end of the day, the best pet photography session locations for you are the ones that’ll complement the decor you already have in your house! If your house is decked out in beachy, pastel colors and you use seashells as design elements, we should definitely head to the beach. But if you prefer to decorate in a rustic style, with organic tones like browns and khakis, the natural environments of the park or the hiking trail would probably fit your look best. Take your current design strategy into consideration when you make this choice, and you’ll thank yourself later. On the other hand, if you don’t have much of a “design strategy” to speak of, the choices are wide open! Where would your dog like to go? 

Taking Your Dog to Mexico – Our Story

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

I love Mexico. The beaches, the food, the language, the marketplaces, the margaritas…  pretty much everything south of the border calls my name. (We even went to Cabo for our honeymoon!) And living in San Diego means that I don’t have to step on a plane to visit Mexico, which is pretty awesome – and as a result, my husband and I have driven there once or twice a year since moving to SD 4 years ago. Our favorite town to visit is Rosarito, a small village south of Tijuana that (with its next-door neighbor Puerto Nuevo) serves the region as a lobster fishing hub. We’ve never gone with our dog, though – until last weekend. And I know I’m not the only one who has considered taking my pup south of the border – so I wanted to share my experience, and hopefully this blog post contains the info (and reassurance) you need to feel confident about taking your dog to Mexico!  :)

 

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This was a real vacation – which means I didn’t bring my DSLR! (Gasp!) So you’re going to have to put up with iPhone photos in this post, even though I’m a professional photographer. Because after all, “The best camera is the one you have with you.”

 

I had all the normal fears that a pet parent has when doing something for the first time, compounded with the fact that we’re dealing with international borders. Bailey is a good girl but her obedience isn’t perfect, and although she loves people she doesn’t always get along with certain kinds of dogs in certain situations… I knew that there was plenty that could potentially go wrong. But there was also the potential for so much to go right! So after chatting with a few people who said it was “no big deal” to bring their dogs to Mexico, we decided to get past our concerns and take the leap! I suppose we figured that I speak enough Spanish to deal with pretty much any crisis, and we would obviously stand up for our dog and her safety in any situation, so as long as she was with us, she’d be fine. It also really reassured us when we picked a resort that actually had a dedicated dog run; going to a place that’s unabashedly dog-friendly is a huge plus and I highly recommend it!

 

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How we prepared: we scheduled a vet appointment for a month before our trip. During that appointment, we asked the vet how she felt about us taking Bailey to Mexico, and what concerns (if any) she would share with us. Our vet was very unconcerned; Bailey has always been a very healthy dog (knock on wood) and there was nothing that our vet specifically warned us about. So we simply made sure she was updated on all her shots, especially rabies, and got a hard copy of her shot records to bring with us.

One quick note about the International Certificate of Good Health Form, # 77-043. We heard various reports about this – my husband thinks it’s for flying with your dog, not driving, and our vet clinic thinks it’s only for interstate travel, not international. We didn’t learn about it until after our appointment, otherwise we would have asked for a copy to take with us, just in case. (Spoiler alert: we wouldn’t have needed it anyway. But if it’s readily available from your vet, go for it!)

 

(Side note: apparently dogs can get passports, too. I haven’t looked into this for Bailey yet, and I’m not seriously considering getting her one at the moment, since A) it seems to be more important in the EU, which we don’t plan on taking her to anytime soon, and B) all the information I can find online comes from companies looking to make a profit from the idea, so I’m skeptical about how beneficial/necessary it would actually be.)

 

What we packed: her bed, toys, food, treats, bowls, 2 leashes of different length, and extra poop bags. (Don’t you love how low-maintenance dogs are?!) We didn’t bring a kennel, primarily because Bailey isn’t kennel-trained (so bad, I know!) and also because we weren’t flying, we were driving. So her seatbelt and our backseat cover were the only transportation-related items we brought, and they’re always in our car anyway!

 

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We booked a pet-friendly AirBNB in Rosarito, and about 45 minutes after crossing the border into Mexico (which is so easy it’s laughable) we arrived at the resort and found our room! It was a penthouse suite (#penthouselife) in a resort with a mix of towers and linked single-story houses. I’m pretty sure Bailey would have preferred once of the houses, since she has a deep mistrust of elevators, but she braved her fear and actually loved the penthouse that we stayed in. I could tell she was comfortable there when she started playing with her toys only about half an hour after we arrived! (Although we had 2 loads of stuff to bring up from the car, so she whined and cried when we left to get that second load and she was suddenly alone in a strange new place.Which I can understand. But Bailey is often over-dramatic so I knew she wasn’t actually freaking out, haha!)

Right after getting settled, Mr. Shamrell & I went to lunch at a nearby (walking-distance) hotel. We didn’t bring Bailey because we wanted to scope out the dog-friendly factor first – and to our delight we saw another dog lounging on the outdoor patio! No problemo!

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This is Bailey at that same restaurant, for dinner the next night. Oceanfront dining = relaxing and gorgeous for humans, more seagulls for dogs to watch.

 

At lunch, we asked our friendly waiter if he knew of a dog beach nearby, or at least a beach where we could bring our dog without getting hassled. He said that he brings his pit bull to a beach that was so close, he pointed it out down the coastline! So we ran back to our resort, grabbed Bailey, and off we went!

The beach that we visited in particular was a little tricky to get down to. A lot of Mexican beaches (especially public, unsupervised beaches) can include a hike down rocky, unstable terrain. But we saw a few families already on the beach, so we knew it was doable – and we carefully made our way down the steep “path” and set foot safely on the sand. We also walked past a chained-up pit bull that came out of his sheet metal den and barked at us as we went past, maybe 20-30 feet away. (Which didn’t bother Bailey, but bothered me for multiple reasons.) If your dog is especially nervous about uncertain situations, or can’t handle a quick but steep hike, I certainly wouldn’t recommend the beach we visited. And it might make it difficult to find a truly ideal public Mexican beach, honestly – but I can’t be sure, since we only ended up taking Bailey to this spot for beach time. But she was a total champ and didn’t let any of that faze her! And once we got to the sand, it was a little slice of heaven; plenty of room to run around & seaweed to sniff, while Mr. Shamrell & I relaxed in our beach chairs and took in the view! I can’t even begin to tell you what a great time we had once we got down there! Here are a few maps to our beach:

Rosarito dog beach Rosarito beach for dogs satellite dog beach map

 

And here’s what playtime looked like:

 

On our way back up the rocky path, we encountered a stray dog. He had no collar or leash, and seemed awfully sweet, but we kept him away from Bailey just in case. I would have loved to pack him up into our car and give him some love and a healthy meal, at the very least – he clearly needed both – but it simply wouldn’t have been safe. The poor thing clearly wanted to come with us… but once we waved him off the last time, he trotted toward a few nearby houses, so I’m guessing that’s where he lives. That moment was probably the saddest of our trip.

 

The next day, we decided to hang out by the pool at our resort. There weren’t many other people around, and we found a small grassy area next to two lounge chairs – so naturally Bailey came with us! We put her on a 20-foot leash and secured it to one of our chairs, so she wandered & sniffed everywhere as we read our books. Plus, it was an oceanfront pool, so Bailey had the chance to monitor the seagulls too. We probably wouldn’t have brought her if it was crowded with people, but it was a relatively secluded spot and not a big deal.

taking your dog to Mexico

 

dog in Mexico

Can you believe she never jumped in the pool? Bailey doesn’t really like swimming, so she was content to enjoy the view instead.

 

Because of our success in taking Bailey to the nearby restaurant, and our optimism, we drove to one of our favorite restaurants in Puerto Nuevo the next night with her. It’s called Poco Cielo, and since they also have an outdoor patio we figured she’d be allowed there – and she was! We had another great dinner together (and might have given her a few tortilla chips as well).

 

Last but certainly not least, I know you’re curious about the actual border crossing! I made this video so you could hear the play-by-play with all the details:

 

 

A few questions you might have:

  • How did we get our medical “fast pass”? Okay, don’t be miffed if you didn’t know this before, but guess what… you can get a medical pass at some Mexican spas after getting a massage! True story! There are several spas that have clearance to do this, and certain types of massages that will earn you a “fast pass” to get back across the border in the quicker line, as long as you use it in the following 48 hours after your massage. So we suffered through a massage to get that pass, haha! ;)
  • Why can’t we stop for a doggy potty break while we wait to get across the border? Because you’re constantly slowing moving forward. The line isn’t usually “stopped” for very long at a time, it’s just a long, painfully-slow crawl. So you certainly could leave your car to take your dog to a nearby patch of grass (if your lane happens to pass near one, which is not guaranteed) but someone else would have to keep driving, and then you could catch up with them again pretty easily by walking.
  • How do I find the medical lane? Tijuana is confusing. AGREED. We used directions from Baja Bound – a total godsend! We still ran into a roadblock that threw us off course, but with our T-Mobile plan we get free data in Mexico, and so Google Maps was essential to finding our way back on course.
  • Anything else I should know about driving around Mexico? Get Mexican car insurance. Most American companies will NOT cover theft or break-ins if they happen across the border. We usually go through Sanborn’s but you have several options out there. We paid $95 for 4 days of coverage, and the peace of mind is SO worth it.

 

Mexican dog park

My dog’s crazy-face as she runs around at the dog park at our resort. Pretty sure this is the best view from any dog park in the world!

 

Those are all the stories I have to share with you for now! I hope you found value in this blog post, and if you were considering taking your dog to Mexico, that you feel much more confident about doing it successfully! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below if there’s anything else you’re curious about. We had soooo much fun in Mexico, and I think Bailey had a great time as a perro. ;)

 

 

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