Airstream Travels

There’s just so much out there…..

The dog show winners were……

So, when we last spoke I was at Deland gearing up for the weekend dog show. When you do something for the first time you have expectations but really don’t know if you will meet them, totally fail or knock it out of the park. I did the math – 1,400 dogs and one green screen photographer. Sounded like good odds to me. In a nutshell I made my expenses and a few bucks but not the home run I was looking for. Even then I did better than most of the other vendors but times are tough on the circuit. I certainly got an education though.

I want my neighbor’s green tent…..

My next door neighbor on “vendor row” was a retired school teacher from South Florida via the Bronx, New York who has been selling specialized dog food for a few years but showing Shelties for 20 years. We had many conversations between customers about the workings of a dog show. Suffice it to say it’s complicated. Not just the terminology but the behind the scenes intricacies of dealing with certain judges, certain competitors, rankings, points, not to mention the health of the dog, attitude that particular day and on and on.

How did all this apply to my little photo booth. Well, of the 1,400 dogs entered many are turned over to professional handlers for the whole weekend. The men and women you see trotting around the ring are for hire. Not all. Some owners do handle their dogs but many don’t. What this equates to for me is a dog owner stopping by my booth and loving what they see but not having their dog available. I heard it so many times, “we’ll see you Sunday after the show.”

There are two types of dog show participant. The person who has a show dog pet (insert breed here), lives locally or a few miles away and comes to the show for the day with Fido in tow. Then there are the people who show (insert breed here) and go to every show with sometimes 10 or more Fidos. My customers were the single participant who thinks the world of their dog and sees a portrait as something to behold. I had spectators with their dogs come by as well but the majority of the 1400 arrive in neatly stacked crates and are wheeled in and wheeled out.

Wheel ’em in and wheel ’em out.

Now I’m not saying that these “operations” don’t love and take great care of their dogs, they do. It’s just that they are there to compete. It’s business. Not only that but when you have 12 (again insert breed) you just are not in the market for 12 green screen photos.

Anyway, Friday and Saturday were slow but I talked to a lot of people. Most were very impressed with the whole idea of an outdoor green screen booth, having never seen anything like it. Most spectators told me they wished they had brought their dog to the show. Those that did have their dogs were busy in the ring and would come back later – and many did.

Sunday came and it picked up a lot then late in the day they all hit at once. I build a photo from scratch so it takes a few minutes usually 10 or so but if the customer has trouble picking a background it takes longer. The actual photographs go quickly, unless it’s like the three 4 month-old puppies which was like photographing swirling fish in a fish bowl. With the crush I lost customers that didn’t want to wait but everyone I did serve had a huge smile on their face when they left and that was a nice feeling.

Hold still……

No really, HOLD STILL…..

The Monkies

A business, in my self-taught opinion, will succeed if you offer a product or service that someone has to have or a product or service that can make them more money from their product or service. Which leads me to the opportunity that this dog show did give to me. It may lead me in a new direction. While at the show I talked to a lot of breeders who liked my concept and want me to come to them and help market their puppies, i.e., make them more money. I actually set a date in November with a breeder to set up at her horse farm near Ocala. I’ll photograph her puppies on the green screen and at the same time her colleagues will come with their puppies. We’re gunna make a day of it. The good thing here is they’re coming specifically for me – presales and no booth fees or user fees. I might bring LuLu on that job for impact and to get some good horse farm LuLu pics for myself. I also was invited back to Deland by a service dog organization to set up on graduation day at their academy sometime in the future. Individual shots, handler and dog and also the class photo. Sounds like fun.

So it wasn’t a failure. The main thing was the timing issue. I need them spread out through the duration of the show, not all at once. You live and learn. I probably won’t do another dog show for that reason but I truly did enjoy this one. In the mean time I’ll start focusing on breeders and if the service dog angle works out I have that market too.

Lulu and I will be headed back to Ocala Monday. Blue Springs State Park was a beautiful place to spend 9 days and I encourage anyone in the area to come here, you wont regret it.  I had a great time at the show, even stayed late on Saturday night for the Kennel Club benefit Bar-B-Que – the food and live music (two guys covering Eagles songs and Jimmy Buffett) were out of this world and the show participants and board members made me feel very welcome.

Till next time  —   no…  really HOLD STILL……

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September 24, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

2 Comments »

  1. You should look into getting into FALL FIESTA IN THE PARK in Orlando – 11/3-11/4 at Lake Eola. I do not know if it is too late but when we did the show there a few years back there were thousands of people there with pets. A beautiful setting. Entry fee then was $80 Here is a contact number – 407-649-8805 – can’t hurt to call. Mike V.

    Comment by Mike V. | September 24, 2012 | Reply

  2. Great post as usual, Kevin! If you haven’t seen the movie, “Best in Show,” you really need to check it out. After your experience in Deland, you’ll get a kick out of it.

    Comment by Carol | September 30, 2012 | Reply


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