Local dogs have their day in new photography book
Juli-Anne Warll endured being snarled at, bitten, drooled on, jumped on, sat on and even peed on in pursuit of her latest creative endeavor. Of course, she also encountered plenty of tail wagging, face licking and general exuberance over her presence.
The local photographer is preparing for the release of her first book, "Park City – DogTown USA," a compilation of portraits of close to 100 pooches posing in recognizable and historic locations around town.
After nearly a year behind the camera and several months wondering whether the books would make it to domestic soil (difficulties in transit and a customs snafu delayed the journey), Warll finally has her labor of love in hand in the trunk of her car, actually.
She will host an official release celebration on Friday, July 16, at Alpine Internet Cyber Coffee House in the Kimball Art Center. The launch party is a reunion for dog owners who subjected their pups to the spotlight as well as a gathering for anyone interested in checking out the book.
Warll fell in love with photography at age 8 when she experimented with her first camera, an old-school variety with a plastic crank. During her teenage years, her father invested in a collection of camera equipment and created an in-home darkroom. Soon afterwards, though, he all but abandoned the hobby.
Warll picked up where he left off. "I think he was doubly excited when I started expressing interest," she says.
In college, she put her creative instincts on the back burner and became a commercial pilot. But after 12 years in the air, she started craving solid ground. "I was tired of traveling and I felt like I was always on someone else’s leash," she says.
Two years ago, she decided to take a sabbatical from flying. Her family urged her to pick up a camera again, but in the time since her early fascination with film, photography had entered a completely different realm and Warll felt she lacked the digital know-how.
Still, her family gave her a gift certificate to purchase a camera for Christmas. Around the same time, she adopted Jasper, her Samoyed/Great Pyrenees mix.
"He became my model a lot," she says. Eventually Jasper started to shun her attempts to capture his every expression and she realized that she needed to branch out and photograph other people’s dogs.
Last summer, she issued a call for canine models among friends and acquaintances around town. She was specifically looking for dogs with unique looks, quirky personalities and unusual jobs. All of the dogs in the book are from Park City or visit frequently (some are second-home guardians).
Many came to her through recommendations and she didn’t meet them until the day of their photo shoots. Sometimes a first meeting in a new spot was a recipe for chaos. "They don’t care if they cooperate," she says of her subjects. "They’re out to have fun, which it should be."
Warll usually comes to a shoot with a specific vision in mind, but with dogs in the picture, things didn’t always work out as planned. "You have to have a plan B and C and just roll with it," she says.
She always arrived armed with squeaky toys and cheesy treats to get on her models’ good sides. That usually helped, she says, except in the case of a 90-pound puppy that swallowed a squeaky toy whole.
Like human models, some dogs took to the spotlight better than others. "Some really light up with the attention and shine," she says. "I really enjoyed all their different personalities."
Warll has lived in Park City for 18 years and knew that the omnipresent character in the book would be the town. "I didn’t want it to just be a dog book," she says. "That’s what makes it unique I think."
The dogs were photographed at local hangouts including the ski resorts, various trails, historic mining areas and familiar buildings. Warll also incorporated local landmarks such as the Shoe Tree, Main Street trolley and the swirly Olympic sculpture off of State Road 224.
Readers are likely to recognize some of the models as well. Moonshine from High West Distillery makes an appearance ("He almost broke my nose," Warll says of attempting to perch him on a whiskey barrel), as do the troupe of fuzzy Newfoundlands from Love Your Pet Bakery.
Each portrait includes a bio with basic facts (age, breed and nickname) as well as interesting tidbits such as how the pooches got their name, their alter egos, favorite tricks, guilty pleasures and what gets their tails wagging.
Despite the challenges of photographing animals and the ups and downs of the self-publishing process, Warll says she plans to continue to take photos of dogs and is considering similar book projects for other ski towns.
Meanwhile, she can be seen around town with her camera and Jasper eyes akimbo for new and exciting subjects. She posts her latest snapshots on her blog, http://juliannewarll.blogspot.com , and on the Facebook page for "Park City – DogTown USA."
The books will be available for purchase at the launch party and at the Park Silly Sunday Market on July 18 and 25. Copies are also available online at http://www.juliannewarll.com .
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