If you’re not following Miss Ananda Rose (@ananda_theunicorndog) on Instagram you’re missing out! As a Long Island micro-influencer, Ananda and her mom Dina are not only serving amazing dog fashion (three words: tutus, crowns, and bows), but also giving back to charities and working with businesses like SwiftPaws (just seen on Shark Tank) for amazing giveaways.
I had the pleasure of meeting Dina and Ananda last summer for our first portrait session. Since Ananda is easily distracted by people (everyone is her best friend) and squirrels, we decided to do the shoot in Dina’s back yard in Huntington, Long Island. We had a great time capturing some lifestyle shots of Dina and Ananda doing yoga and turning the backyard into a magical forest for the mythical unicorn dog herself.
I recently had a chance to catch up with Dina and Ananda as we were planning a session for this spring at Heckscher Park and Gold Star Beach in Suffolk County. I thought it would be fun to interview her so you could hear from someone with first-hand knowledge about why she chose to work with a professional photographer, what her experience was like, and what advice she has for anyone thinking about or doing a portrait session this summer.
Here’s what Dina had to say:
First, tell us a little about Ananda
Ananda is a beach-loving, super-friendly, blissful little girl who loves to cuddle, play with her friends, and go for walks. She is almost 3 years old and is a mixed-breed, but mostly unicorn! I adopted her back in the beginning of the pandemic and we’ve been together happily ever since. Everyone loves their dog and thinks they're special, but I think mine is the most special and I love her. Her name means blissful and it’s a perfect match for her personality. She meditates and does yoga with me, so she’s pretty much my perfect partner. She really is my soulmate.
Why did you decide to work with a professional photographer, especially when you have such amazing photos on your Instagram account?
I had never worked with a professional photographer before, and I already take a ton of photos of Ananda, mostly with my phone, and create DIY wall art for my home, but I knew that a professional would bring a totally different skill level and eye to the photos. After adopting Ananda I realized how important this was for me. My first dog, Kimba, was so incredibly special to me and now that she is gone I really wish that I had something that I could hold or see on my wall every day that really captures just how wonderful she was. So with Ananda, I wanted to make sure that I worked with you and invested in capturing some special memories. It was also a chance for me to actually be included in the photos too. Aside from selfies, I don’t have any pictures of us together taken by someone who actually knows what they’re doing.
What was the experience like for you?
Oh my gosh, we had so much fun. From the first video chat with you, we instantly connected and I could tell that you were a complete animal lover. You were full of energy and had such great ideas as we thought through the best places for us to shoot considering Ananda gets distracted easily. I just knew we were going to have a great time. And then when we met for our session, you immediately made me feel comfortable and relaxed even though I was nervous since I had never done a professional shoot before. You also immediately took the time to bond with Ananda by bringing out the treats and your bag of tricks.
Seeing the magic behind the scenes take place was also super cool. You were able to read Ananda’s energy enough to know when she needed a little break or to change positions. Also seeing you transition really easily between different poses and us doing stuff was neat since we had talked about what kind of images I wanted out of the session. Plus, Ananda loved all the treats and toys you brought to motivate her and get her smiling.
It was also great that we only had to wait a few days until we got to see the gallery of the images. It was so hard to narrow down which ones I wanted since I loved so many of them. Even ones that I didn’t love, I still liked. You really helped me pick out a wide variety of different photos from the shoot for my folio box. It was great that you were able to recommend images based on which ones have a stronger composition and make a nice collection together.
You mentioned your folio box, can you tell folks what that is?
Well first of all, it was really hard to decide what I wanted because there are so many great options for displaying the photos in my house. I really liked how you helped me narrow down the best items so I could get a lot of the images I wanted. That turned out to be the folio box, which is a beautiful box with Ananda’s name etched on the front and a collection of matted 8x10 photos. We actually got a larger box so that I can grow my collection over time from different shoots and during different times throughout Ananda’s life.
What advice do you have for anyone considering or planning a session over the summer?
I’d say, plan for what you want but don’t get stuck on a specific outcome. Really just trust Kara to get the best images, because even if you think you know how they will turn out, she has the eye to make them amazing. You know, for example, during last year’s session when you pulled out the forest backdrop and started arranging all my plants around Ananda, it didn’t make sense to me. I thought it was cute, but I didn’t get it. I figured, well you’re the professional, so I went with it. And then I saw the photos…wow.
The behind the scenes set up in Dina's back yard and the magical forest we created for Ananda.