We knew it was time to recreate our website. A lot had happened with Lily Spindle in nearly three years and I was like, "jeez, my hair is so much shorter now" and Deb was like, "yeah, my hair is so much blonder now" and, of MUCH greater importance than our respective coiffures, Lily Spindle had new/different projects we wanted to share! A vital element of the reboot was in finding a photographer in Los Angeles who was able to snap photographs of us, our dogs, and us WITH our dogs. The photographer would need to be 100% comfortable around multiple dogs of varying sizes and mixed breeds, would be able to capture the relationship of said dogs with their people, and would need to be gifted in snapping portraits in which the subject didn't appear strained or awkward (and, in my personal case, not looking like a strangely gesticulating, raging lunatic). Deb and I threw a few names around - all photographers we adore and revere, each of them gifted and talented and incredible. But one particular photographer's name kept coming up - Rita Earl Blackwell.
Here's a bit of scoop on Rita Earl Blackwell:
A native New Yorker, she's lived in Los Angeles for 25 years, but her accent is so strong people have a difficult time placing it (seriously - I overheard someone ask her if she was Australian). She says she's had a camera in her hand for as long as she can remember. A devoted animal lover and advocate (as well as a senior dog mom and hospice dog foster), Rita rescued her first dog in California back in 2006 and soon realized there was a way in which she could give back to the rescue community ("without adopting them all," she jokes). Thusly, she donates her photography services to "shelters, rescue groups, and any animal in need." Oh, and this is how gorgeous and sweet she is with the (now deceased) fur babes, Jujubee and Fiona:
I was familiar with Rita's photography namely because I'd seen RITA EARL PHOTOGRAPHY watermarked on countless fabulous photos of adoptable dogs and cats available at various Southern California-based shelters and animal rescues (Angel City Pit Bulls among them - they're awesome!). Deb met her when Rita was photographing for Dawg Squad and Deb was handling a new Dawg Squad addition - South LA Shelter dog named Darwin (formerly Frankie). And, last month, I'd seen Rita's handiwork myself at an A Purposeful Rescue adoption event. In short, the two of us knew Rita's way with animals is truly magical. But her way with humans is pretty magical, too. Lively, carefree, enthusiastic, with what borders on Job-like patience...
Fast forward to now...and here are a few snaps from our shoot! It was madness. Hilarious madness. We were scurrying around in 4" heels and dresses, herding seven dogs (go here to see our respective crews!), sweating our chimichangas off in an oppressive heatwave, gulping champagne, and trying not to appear crazed and anything more than intentionally "dewy." Our husbands, by the way, were on hand to help handle the dogs, but mostly they sat together sipping beers, discussing art and surf. (Love you guys.)
Rita was amazing through it all.
Lovely. Joyous. Persistent. Unflappable. And every one of our dogs immediately adored her, of course.
This fantastic woman deserves a medal.
Or some kind of shiny trophy.
Or a stone bench in Los Angeles's Grand Park extolling her gifts and altruism.
(PSSSTTTTT . . . you can contact her right here for your very own unforgettable, sweet, and hilarious photo session!)
And, as a tribute to our usual SHAPERS' q+a features, here's a lickety split rapid fire round of just a few questions:
LS: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Rita: My dogs make me a morning person. ;)
LS: Could you share one special trick for getting an excellent pet portrait?
Rita: There's a few, but just one would have to be having soft + smelly treats on hand. And lots of 'em!
LS: Describe the traits of an elderly dog that makes them especially amazing.
Rita: Their ability to chill and enjoy every minute of it.