Last week I travelled to Las Vegas to shoot portraits for a weekend feature on “pet palaces” for the Financial Times. Not being a pet owner myself, I was unaware of the lavish trend of providing to-scale, miniature models of actual homes for your pets, but it’s apparently quite popular. The most lavish example cited in the article is Paris Hilton’s $325k, scale model of her own mansion for her dogs. Sounds reasonable. The owner of palace and puppy that I was to photograph was Maryann Pascal, an executive with the Wynn/Encore Hotel resort, whose dog, Lola, has the privilege of napping on a daybed that was custom made to be a to-scale miniature replica of one of the poolside cabanas found at the Encore Hotel. The cabana was a surprise gift to her and Lola from a couple of her clients, who got to know Lola as a puppy when Maryann used to bring her in to work. Quite a gift!
This shoot presented three or four obstacles that, mostly through luck, I was able to work around. The first was that working with dogs, as with children, can be hit or miss in terms of getting cooperation from your subject. Fortunately, Lola was incredibly patient and obedient and was pretty much happy to sit wherever Maryann put her. The rest of the problems revolved around a request from the editors that the shot be very colorful, which I thought would be no problem as you can generally count on Vegas to have plenty of blue skies and sunshine. However, I arrived to clouds and cold weather, and even worse, blustery winds that I thought would put to rest any hopes of shooting warm, colorful images outside. Add to that a giant dust storm that covered most of the 35 miles between the border town of Primm and Las Vegas as I drove in. Luckily, the dust cloud dissipated by the city’s edge and high walls around the backyard pool kept the wind at bay. To take care of the rest, I cut out most of the sky and warmed up the shot with a CTO gel, pretty well obscuring the grey reality of the day. So, it all worked out. After the shoot had wrapped and the files had been submitted I then had an excuse to spend a fun couple of days in town with Erinn and some friends.