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Making of “The Reflection Of Me”

Welcome our next guest artist Isaac Alvarez to continue our Making Of segment with the creation of his fun and dog-loving  portrait series “Reflection of Me”. I hope you enjoy hearing how this project came about and what tools Isaac used to create these captivating images:

I always wondered: if dogs lived like humans, how would they act or what jobs would they choose. This idea kept constantly coming in and out of my mind, until I set to do this project.

This was a simple idea that bloomed into a portrait series. I can honestly say that it originated from hurt. My dogs are always getting judged based on their breed. I own Pit bulls, and it always bothers me when some folks act terrified by default when they meet our dogs.

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Once I decided to shoot this project, I started contacting friends that are dog owners, and asking if they would want to do a portrait projects with their pups. I posted about it on my Facebook page, and, next thing you know, I got threads of comments and a lot of willing participants.

During the planning phase, I pre-visualized what the images would look like. I knew that I wanted to place the dogs’ heads on their owners’ bodies but didn’t have a clue on how I was going to light the images.Very often, I see series of images that are shot against a white background and with a clean smooth lighting. I wanted to be different and go for a dark and dramatic look, which is my signature touch in photography.

I then analyzed the photos of the dogs and their owners to see how I could pose them to visually create their character. I told some owners what to wear, and asked others to wear something that would match their dogs’ personality.

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Then we locked down the date and executed the series. The title actually came to my mind on the day of the shoot. I thought “Reflection of Me” fit the series because ultimately our dogs are a reflection of us. There’s a saying: “There is no such thing as a bad dog, only bad owners who raised them”.

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With this series I wanted to show that no matter the breed, there are no bad dogs. I also feel for rescue dogs and the fact that the majority of the dogs that are in the pound are Pitbulls.


My lighting setup was simple, I lit this project with 3 lights: two rim lights and the main light – a beauty dish – right above the sitter’s forehead. Side lights didn’t have a diffuser; and main light was covered with a green CT gel.

I photographed the dogs first then based on the dogs’ poses I determined how to pose their owners.

My equipment:
Canon 5D Mark III
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
3 x Broncolor MobiLED

Camera Settings:

Aperture: ƒ/20
Shutter speed: 1/160s
ISO 100

Lighting Diagram:


​Post-production was simple as well: I placed the dogs’ heads onto their owner’s bodies, and since the lighting was identical, I didn’t have to cut them out from the background; just a little masking and blending of the 2 images.

The biggest challenge that I had shooting this project was getting the right poses of the dogs. They would constantly move around and got very distracted and agitated with the flashes going off. Even offering them dog treats didn’t help.

Overall the experience was amazing, and seeing how the dogs resemble their owners’ personality validated the title and all of the efforts to me.



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