New Award-winning Images: 2018 IPC Results

Last year I entered print competition for the first time, which was a huge learning experience.  I entered again this year, although admittedly kinda at the last minute.  If you're not familiar with Professional Photographers of America's International Photographic Competition (or the "Superbowl" of professional photography as I call it), then read last year's IPC results post first for an overview of how scoring works.

How I did in 2018 IPC

Three out of four of my images were awarded a merit, all within the General Collection.  Not too shabby!  Although my goal was 4/4, it's still better than 2/4 last year.

Now for my entries:


Image 1:  Collie and Columns

I love the architectural elements and leading lines in this image, but unfortunately the judges did not feel strongly about it.  Although I haven't received my critique yet, I'm wondering if perhaps the judges wanted more of a story?  It scored 78.  And actually I'm grateful it didn't score the dreaded 79!  Still one of my favorite images taken this summer.

  Collie and Columns

Collie and Columns


Image 2:  Mr. Tough Guy

I love Adobie's intense expression and the colorful graffiti wall.  The ironic part is that Adobie is ANYTHING but tough - he's actually quite gentle and snuggly with his toy bunny.  This one scored 80, and earned a merit in the General Collection.

  Mr. Tough Guy

Mr. Tough Guy


Image 3:  Maybe She's Born With It

If you've visited Loyl's Natural Pet in the West U area, you may have met Lucy, one of the resident greeters there.  She has the most amazing eyelashes, and I instantly fell in love with this image of her.  It scored 80, and earned a merit in the General Collection.

  Maybe She's Born With It

Maybe She's Born With It


Image 4:  Wish You Were Here

The first three images were all taken during client sessions in Houston, but this last one was taken while on vacation in Paris.  No lie, I spent a couple hours sitting, watching, and walking around the Champ de Mars, waiting for the perfect dog to walk by to pose for me in front of the Eiffel Tower.  When I saw Chicco, I knew he was the one!  And shhhh, don't tell anyone, he's actually Swiss, not French!  This image scored an 80 and earned a merit in the General Collection.

  Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here

Pulling back the curtain

I love a good before and after!  So I thought I'd pull back the curtain and show how much post-processing work can go on behind the scenes.  The slideshow below shows my four entries 1) straight out of camera, and 2) as submitted into print competition.

Curious to see my entries from last year's competition?  Check out the 2017 IPC results blog post.

Is your dog ready for his close-up?  Fall sessions are booking now - send me a message and let's chat!


Now booking... 2018 Summer in the City sessions

Two weekends in July...

eight fun locations all around Houston...

an excuse to get out and explore with your dog...

resulting in a professional portrait that will make you smile every day

Introducing... Summer in the City limited edition sessions.  Think of it as a summer bucket list item for you and your dog!

Sessions are booking now.  Visit the registration page to see sample photographs from the eight locations, get answers to FAQs, and book your Summer in the City session.  Spots are limited.

Hope to see you there!


Voyage Houston Magazine Feature

Recently I was featured by Voyage Houston Magazine as part of their inspiring entrepreneurs series.  You can read the original article at Voyage Houston (with more cute puppy pictures!) or read it below.

Meet Megan Murray of Megan Murray Photography

french bulldog with crooked teeth houston texas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Megan Murray.

Megan, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?

I became a dog mom in 2005 and my life was forever changed. It’s funny how a little ball of fur who has bad breath, pees on your floor and chews your furniture can wiggle completely into your life and heart. What in the world did we do before we had a dog? Gosh, what a boring life it must have been!

Mackenzie, a dachshund mix, taught me about responsibility and unconditional love and started my obsession with short puppy legs. Less than a year later, we brought Sophie, our spunky Maltese mix, home and learned that there was indeed enough love to go around. And a few years after that, we rescued a calm puppy only to realize later that her personality was anything but calm. Sadie inspires me to live life with exuberance and joy.

Like most dog moms, my phone was filled with thousands of snapshots of my furbabies, but one day I realized we didn’t have a really nice picture of our little family all together. I was desperate to document the head tilt and crazy hair and underbite of our first children, so I hired a professional photographer to do just that! Fast forward several years… our dogs’ portraits still hang prominently in our family room, and I now help other dog moms and dads preserve memories of their own beloved furbabies.

Has it been a smooth road?

Most people think their dog would never behave well enough for a photo session, but that is a myth! While some dogs can be more challenging than others to photograph, it’s amazing how a little patience, funny noises, and stinky treats can turn any dog into a supermodel!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Megan Murray Photography – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.

I’m an on-location photographer specializing in candid pet photography in Houston, Texas. I believe dogs are family, and my goal is to provide clients with a fun and personalized photography experience resulting in beautiful artwork to enjoy every day.

My sessions are laid-back with plenty of time for belly rubs and a game of fetch. But the fun doesn’t end there! After the session, I create and deliver custom framed wall portraits and albums. Smiles guaranteed! Houston dog moms choose me because they appreciate quality photography, timeless tangible artwork, and personal attention from start to finish.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?

Having family close by is my favorite thing about Houston. A close second is the variety of world-class restaurants, entertainment, sports, and cultural events. I don’t enjoy the mosquitoes or the hot and humid summers (not exactly the best weather for an outdoor portrait session!).

Contact Info:


Thank you Voyage Houston!

You might also like...

Dogs of Paris - a week in the city of love

I could almost feel the sand between my toes...

Mouse hovering over the "purchase" button, moments away from booking a weekend getaway to a beach resort....

when the phone rang...

It was the hubs asking "how would you like to upgrade our beach weekend to something bigger... like Paris?  I have to go there for work."  Umm.... yes please!!  (I've only been waiting 6 years for his company to send him back to Paris so I could tag along!!)

and our plans changed from Caribbean resort to Parisian boutique. 

Forget the sunscreen and flip flops.  Enter jacket, umbrella, and sensible walking shoes.  We visited Paris in late March and stayed a block off Avenue Montaigne in the Champs-Elysees area.  While J was at work, I spent my days wandering the city on foot and by metro.  I did very little planning ahead of time which truth be told, if I were to go again, I would certainly book a few things in advance (like going up the Eiffel Tower at night). 

All in all, a great week exploring.  I'm not a huge fan of French food (shhh... don't tell anyone) but I did consume a lot of cheese and wine!

Now let's see the stars of this post: the dogs I met wandering around Paris!

 Outside Shakespeare and Company book store

Outside Shakespeare and Company book store

 Rainy walk near the Notre Dame cathedral

Rainy walk near the Notre Dame cathedral

 Sunset at the Pont des Arts

Sunset at the Pont des Arts

 Twilight at Musee du Louvre

Twilight at Musee du Louvre

 Puppy wearing in Montmartre

Puppy wearing in Montmartre

 Wish you were here from the Tour Eiffel

Wish you were here from the Tour Eiffel

 Don't be fooled - this Frenchie is actually from Switzerland!

Don't be fooled - this Frenchie is actually from Switzerland!

 Along the banks of the Seine River

Along the banks of the Seine River

Want to see my week-long Parisian adventure condensed into three minutes?  Watch the video below!

This isn't the first time I've photographed dogs outside the USA - you can see more international puppies on the blog from London and Costa Rica.


Dog-Friendly Activities in Houston - May 2018

One of the busiest months of the year - Mother's Day, graduation celebrations, a three-day Memorial Day weekend, all signalling the start of summer!  In between all the parties and get-togethers, I wouldn't blame you for just chillaxin' at home.  But if you are looking for something to do with your dog this month, I've got you covered...

small black and white dog standing by large flower pot

Things to do with your dog in Houston (May 2018):

  • May 5 - Cinco de Doggo Fiesta at Axelrad Beer Garden.  Margaritas, maracas, doggy bags, pinata games, raffles and more benefiting Reggie's Friends.
  • May 5 - Chihuahua de Mayo at the Houston Humane Society.  Food truck, family fun, and special adoption rates for chihuahuas and chi-mixes.
  • May 8 - K-9 Angels Spring Fling at Karbach Brewery.  Beer, food trucks, auction, & raffles benefiting K-9 Angels Rescue.
  • May 14 - Dogs & Divas Fashion Show & Lunch in League City.  Fashion and dogs benefiting Bay Area Turning Point.
  • May 16 - Yappy Hour at Midtown Park.  Check out this newly-opened park in Midtown with a dog park!  Treats, prizes, doga (dog yoga), and more!
  • May 19 - Bark for Life of Riverstone in Sugar Land.  Celebrate cancer survivorship, both human and canine, in this non-competitive walk.  Benefiting American Cancer Society.
  • May 26 - Greenawalds Service Fun Run at Bear Creek Pioneers Park.  Family friendly, playground, and mini-zoo, join this fun run to raise money to end Veteran homelessness while saving dogs and training them to support PTSD.

Things to do with your dog in Houston any day:

Do you have an event to share with your fellow dog-loving Houstonians?  Send me a message, and I'll update the list!


A Texas tradition: bluebonnet photos aren't just for people!

To be completely honest, my bluebonnet sessions almost didn't happen this year. 

My husband and I had a trip planned to Paris during the exact 2-week period when the bluebonnets typically peak in Houston, and I wasn't sure if the timing would work.  And for those of you with dogs and/or kids, you know how hectic it can be preparing for a big trip and making sure your babies are taken care of!

Luckily, Mother Nature cooperated with my travel schedule.

At the last minute, I opened an evening of sessions - it not only sold out, but I ended up opening up a second evening.  One sweet dog mom said she'd been stalking me on social media for the last year hoping to snag a bluebonnet session!

Thankful to keep this Texas tradition going (third year in a row!)

Without further ado, the sweet and spunky pups who joined me in the bluebonnets this year:

 Sierra and Rocky

Sierra and Rocky

 Munchkin

Munchkin

 Brody

Brody

 Bruiser

Bruiser

bluebonnet photo sessions for dogs by megan murray photography

And there's always one cheeseball in the group:

havanese dog smiling with texas bluebonnets and indian paintbrush

Do you enjoy bluebonnet pictures as much as I do?  See more sessions from 2017 and 2016.


Decorating with photographs - tips from interior designer Southern Farmhouse Designs

Displaying photographs and artwork is one of the best ways to personalize your space.  But despite how easy HGTV makes it look, decorating your home is not always so straightforward.  Choosing paint colors, fabrics, furniture, artwork, and accessories that reflect your personal style is one thing, but putting them all together to make a cohesive look is another.  Today's post has some helpful hints for decorating your space from local interior decorater Ashley Moore of Southern Farmhouse Designs.  Her designs are so inviting, and I love how she combines old, new, budget-friendly, high-end, colors, and textures into her designs.  

Me:  Tell me a little about how Southern Farmhouse Designs got started.

Ashley:  I've loved design since I was a child, when I used to rearrange the furniture and redecorate my room often.  After we bought and remodeled our home in Tomball, this passion was ignited and with the support of my friends and family, I started Southern Farmhouse Designs.

Me:  What services to you offer your clients?

Ashley:  We are currently specializing in e-design packages to help our clients decorate and style their spaces.  By using a detailed questionnaire and face-time meetings, we put together two cohesive design boards for a single space and send a fun box of fabrics, samples, paint colors, shopping list, and links for purchasing everything.  E-design is great because it's cost effective and allows our clients to transform their home on their own timeline and budget.

 Example e-design (photo credit: Southern Farmhouse Designs)

Example e-design (photo credit: Southern Farmhouse Designs)

Me:  What do people struggle with most in decorating their home?

Ashley:  The number one decorating mistake I see is not choosing the proper size and scale – this applies to artwork on the walls, rugs on the floor, furniture pieces, and even accessories.  A large space usually requires larger pieces.  Many people also struggle with choosing and hanging drapes and pulling different pieces together.

Me:  What are some tips for hanging artwork on the wall?

Ashley:  The first thing you should do when hanging pictures on the wall is consider the overall size and shape of your wall.  You can make a statement with one large piece that fills the wall.  Or you can hang a collection of pieces together to make a story.  I have a collection of nine black and white photographs in my family room – the whole wall is tied together by using the same frame and same color palette throughout the photos. 

 Black and white gallery wall (photo credit:  Grace Laird Photography )

Black and white gallery wall (photo credit: Grace Laird Photography)

For people who don't like the hassle of lining up a group of pictures in perfect straight lines, an eclectic wall gallery is great for mixing and matching sizes, colors, textures, wood tones, and metals, and you can include other items besides photographs!

 eclectic gallery wall (photo credit: Southern Farmhouse Designs)

eclectic gallery wall (photo credit: Southern Farmhouse Designs)

Me:  How about tips for styling a bookshelf with pictures?

Ashley:  On a bookshelf, I prefer to use fill the bookshelf space with a larger photo, or even a smaller photo in a chunkier frame.  By using larger pieces, you let the photographs take center stage rather than getting lost among other small trinkets.  Another thing I like to do is layer my pictures.

 styling bookshelves with photographs (photo credit:  Chelsea Davis Photography )

styling bookshelves with photographs (photo credit: Chelsea Davis Photography)

Me: Do you have pets?

Ashley:  Yes, I have a lab named Rebel and an outdoor cat that eats snakes!

Me:  Great!  How can you incorporate dog stuff into decor?

Ashley:  Dogs are like kids, they have a lot of "stuff"!  A decorative basket or bucket is great for collecting dog toys, and dog beds have come a long way in the last 10 years!  It's easy to find a dog bed that coordinates with the colors in your home.  We recently made a built-in dog crate in our mudroom, which fits seamlessly into the desk.

 built-in mudroom dog kennel (photo credit: Southern Farmhouse Designs)

built-in mudroom dog kennel (photo credit: Southern Farmhouse Designs)

Me:  Anything else you'd like to add about decorating your home?

Ashley:  No one actually lives in a Pinterest-house!  Don't worry that your kitchen doesn't look like it's out of a magazine – do what you can to make it pretty and comfortable, but remember, homes are made for living!

 layered photographs (photo credit:  Grace Laird Photography )

layered photographs (photo credit: Grace Laird Photography)

Thank you Ashley!  I appreciate your insight, and now I have some work to do restyling my bookshelves...

You can find Southern Farmhouse Designs at:

website:  http://southern-farmhouse.com/

facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/southernfarmhousedesignsllc/

instagram:  http://www.instagram.com/southernfarmhousedesigns/


Now booking... 2018 Limited Edition Bluebonnet Sessions

Who else is enjoying this nice weather and new growth on the trees?  It's springtime in Texas, and that means one thing:

bluebonnets!

For one evening only, I'm offering limited edition bluebonnet sessions.  (Fun fact: one of the images I created during last year's bluebonnet sessions merited in the International Photographic Competition!)

These short sessions will take place March 21 within the Houston city limits.  Book your session here, and hurry!  Spots are extremely limited this year.

cavalier king charles spaniel in bluebonnet field

Dog-Friendly Activities in Houston - March 2018

After an unseasonably cold winter, things are starting to warm up!  It's time to get out and enjoy the outdoors with your dog!  I'm loving all the spring flowers popping up around town!

black fluffy happy dog in spring flowers in houston park

Things to do with your dog in Houston (March 2018):

  • March 15 - FFL YPG Yappy Hour at Cactus Cove.  A pre-St. Patrick's Day yappy hour on the dog-friendly patio, benefiting Friends For Life.
  • March 17 - St. Pawtrick's Day Celebration at Brooklyn Athletic Club.  Bring your dog and join BYOD on the patio for games, green drinks, costumes, and door prizes.  Shamrock bingo benefiting Golden Retriever Acres Senior Sanctuary.
  • March 17 - Kiss Me I'm a Rescue adoption event with Houston Pets Alive!  Food games, green beads, and green beer!
  • March 17 - Doggie Pictures with the Easter Bunny at Rover Oaks Pet Resort. Benefiting Shaggy Dog Rescue.
  • March 21 - Bluebonnet photo sessions by yours truly.  Back by popular demand!
  • March 21 - Yappy Hour at Midtown Park.  Check out this newly-opened park in Midtown with a dog park!  Treats, prizes, doga (dog yoga), and more!
  • March 23 - Yappy Hour at Bagby Park in Midtown.  A doggie playdate happy hour with treats, contests, and prizes!
  • March 24 - BarkHappy Houston Spring Pup Crawl at Under the Radar Brewery and Axelrad Beer Garden.  Benefiting Adore Houston. 
  • March 24 - Paws in the Park in Pearland.  Get outside for this fun run, dock diving, demonstrations, pet vendors, and food!
  • March 24 - Wags & Wagers , a casino night benefiting Corridor Rescue.  Gaming, DJ, silent auction, drinks, and catered dinner.
  • March 25 - Bark Mitzvah at Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism.  Enjoy food trucks, pet vendors, music, and giveaways - everyone welcome!
  • March 25 - Abandoned Animal Rescue's Wine Tasting Fundraiser where animal lovers, art lovers, foodies, and beverage connoisseurs come together for a great cause!

Things to do with your dog in Houston any day:

Do you have an event to share with your fellow dog-loving Houstonians?  Send me a message, and I'll update the list!


Lola & Baxter, dog food so good even you would eat it

Have you ever made a positive change to your diet and noticed you start to look and feel better?  Your dog can also benefit from a healthier diet.  Today Iman is talking with us about Lola & Baxter, a business dedicated to providing the freshest nutrient-dense food for your dog!

Me:  How did Lola & Baxter get started?

Iman:  My mom, who loves cooking and feeding everyone, has been making food for our dogs for over 20 years.  It started when we lived abroad, where commercial dog food was not readily available.  More recently, our vet noticed how healthy our dogs were and asked what we were feeding them.  When the vet heard about the homemade human-grade recipes, they wanted to sell it to their other clients, and the idea for Lola & Baxter was born.

 Mom, Iman, & Baxter  (photo credit: John Tran)

Mom, Iman, & Baxter  (photo credit: John Tran)

Me: Your company is named after your dogs Lola and Baxter.  Tell me about them!

Iman:  Lola is a sassy German Shepherd, who sometimes acts like an elegant princess and other times is a klutz.  I adopted her as a puppy, and she gallops in her sleep.  Baxter is a shiatzu with a zen Buddha personality.

 Lola & Baxter (photo credit: John Tran)

Lola & Baxter (photo credit: John Tran)

Me:  What dog food recipes do you offer?

Iman: We currently have five different dog food recipes fit for dogs at all stages of life.  They are all made fresh from human-grade ingredients, and we work with a vet nutritionist to ensure the right mix of nutrients.  We are also working on our first cat food recipe and a line of dog treats.

 (photo credit: John Tran)

(photo credit: John Tran)

Me:  Which recipe is your best seller?

Iman: Turkey is the most popular, and chicken is a close second.  We recommend rotating your dog’s food so that they get a variety of flavors and nutrients.  Plus who wants to eat the same thing every day?!

 (photo credit: John Tran)

(photo credit: John Tran)

Me:  From someone who is addicted to the convenience of Amazon Prime, I think it’s great that you deliver.  Can you tell me more about this service?

Iman: For our subscribers, we offer delivery inside the loop, galleria, and memorial areas.  The food is delivered to your doorstep frozen – you can freeze it for up to 4 months or thaw it in the refrigerator and feed to your dogs within 7-10 days.  The temperature-controlled bags and containers are reusable, so when it’s time for the next delivery, simply put your empty containers and bag out, and we will swap for your next food delivery.

 healthy dog food delivered straight to your doorstep (photo credit: Iman)

healthy dog food delivered straight to your doorstep (photo credit: Iman)

Me:  What’s your favorite thing about running Lola & Baxter?

Iman:  My favorite thing is connecting with fellow dog-lovers, their dogs, and other compassionate people we meet at the Farmer’s Market.  I also like the creative side of bringing our business vision to life.  For me, there is nothing quite like planting the business seed and watching it grow!

Me:  What tips would you give dog owners who want to improve their dog’s diet?

Iman:  Many dry kibble recipes contain preservatives and have lost valuable nutrients because of the high-temperature processing method used to cook the kibble.  We recommend introducing fresh vegetables for a more nutrient-dense diet.  Dogs are no different than people – we all look better, feel better, and perform better with the proper nutrition.  It's important to note that some people food is NOT good for your dog - refer to this ASPCA list of people foods to avoid feeding your pets.

Me:  What's in store for Lola & Baxter in 2018?

Iman:  We are finalizing our retail packaging, and soon the Lola & Baxter foods will come to a retail establishment near you!

Me:  Where can people get their hands (paws) on Lola & Baxter dog food?

Iman:  Come visit us at the Urban Harvest Farmers Market every Saturday morning, or order online at the Lola & Baxter website.

 Lola & Baxter at the Urban Harvest Farmer's Market (photo credit: Iman)

Lola & Baxter at the Urban Harvest Farmer's Market (photo credit: Iman)

You can find Lola & Baxter at:

website:  http://lolaandbaxter.com/

facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/lolaandbaxter/

instagram:  http://www.instagram.com/lolaandbaxter/

in person: Urban Harvest Farmers Market (3000 Richmond)