Say woof! Local photographer opens a new portrait studio dedicated to dogs
C/O Geoff Fitzgerald
Fetching Studios is Hamilton’s first professional dog portrait studio and the hottest new place to photograph your pet
Conveniently located near Gage Park, a great location for a walk with your pooch, Fetching Studios opened its doors this past December as Hamilton’s first professional dog portrait studio. Using fun backdrops, themes and props, Geoff Fitzgerald and Vanessa Marion-Merritt, husband and wife and the founders of the business, aim to capture your dog’s charm and personality.
Fetching Studios started as the couple’s passion project. They had just adopted their Old English Bulldog, Taffy Lee Fubbins, or Taffy for short, and as new dog owners, the idea spurred out of their own interest in taking pictures of their dog and their love for her.
With more than 20 years of photography experience, Fitzgerald is an award winning commercial and editorial photographer and videographer. He photographs and edits the portraits, while Marion-Merritt, who has an extensive tech background and currently works in product management at Shopify, manages the website and handles other backends of the business.
“We started to realize how much a dog in somebody’s life is a family member and how much love people have for their pets,” said Fitzgerald.
He also didn’t want to go to people’s backyards to take photos of their pets; he wanted to create a professional space people normally don’t have access to or can’t recreate. Thus, the idea for a studio ultimately formed to provide dog owners with not only the pictures, but also the experience associated with the process and working in a studio.
They offer 60 to 90-minute sessions with five to six slots available on one weekend per month. Bookings for Fetching Studios can be made on their website where you can also find other merchandise items including tote bags and T-shirts. Clients will have access to a trickle trunk full of various props, dog costumes and accessories for their dog’s shoot as part of the experience.
“The real meat and potatoes for us is the actual experience you have while you’re at the studio . . . It’s the images at the end, but what we’re really selling is a really engaging and a really fun experience the pet and for their owners,” explained Fitzgerald.
At the end of the studio session, customers will receive 15 fully edited images. If they would like, prints are available in other formats as well, such as a larger poster. Fitzgerald and Marion-Merritt are very flexible on the products they can offer.
Besides Taffy, the couple owns a tabby cat named Pepperoni, or Pepper for short, and two hairless rats named Finster and Heiter. Although the studio is focused on dog portraits for now, in the future, they hope to expand their services to other animals and pets as well. Eventually, the couple also hopes to offer more session openings per month as the business continues to grow.
In terms of the reception to this new business, the reaction to the studio’s opening has been unanimously positive.
“I think having these beautiful, high-end photos of our pets is such a great memento to have. So, in general, the response has been extremely positive,” said Fitzgerald.
They have also received attention from other local small businesses as well. One of the businesses they are collaborating with is Grain & Grit Beer Co., a dog-friendly craft brewery just around 10 minutes from McMaster.
On May 29, Grain & Grit Beer Co. will be hosting Summer Dog Days, a dog-focused patio event featuring a variety of local vendors. Fetching Studios will have a booth there and will be offering a five- to 10-minute dog portrait sessions. Visitors will also receive a discount coupon for a regular session at the studio.
“Other local businesses see what we’re offering, see the products we’ve got and want to get involved. They want to connect with other local businesses, support each other and help each other out,” Fitzgerald said.
Moving forward, they are looking forward to integrating and connecting with more businesses, local animal shelters, charities and pet adoption agencies.
“Not only do we want to offer a service, a product, photos and an experience, but we also want to make sure we’re doing our part in helping out whenever we can and helping out in the dog community to try to give back as much as we can as well,” said Fitzgerald.