November 23, 2008.
Photographer relaxes her subject, then snaps a portrait.
By Jo Werne
Shelly Guberek’s clients enter her South Miami shop tentatively.
They pause at the display of doggy beds and sniff the plaid fabric here, the attractive stripe there. Then they check out the table of treats — miniature sugarless cupcakes with yogurt frosting.
They may even start a friendship with Guberek’s pet Weimaraners — Zeke, a 1-year-old male, and Maui, a 9-year-old female.
Thirty minutes of sniffing and the visitors decide to have their portraits taken.
Pet photographer Guberek, 26, opened Doggy Studio & Boutique in August with her partner, Jimmy Lebron. The Coral Gables dog-lover grew up with two French poodles and has rescued many dogs along the roadside. While figuring out what her career would be, she attended Florida International University for a year in 2001, then left to study studio lighting at Parsons New School of Design in New York.
Back in Miami she returned to FIU and earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts with concentration on photography. ”I was always looking for stores to do photography,” she recalls. When she decided it was time to open her own shop she took out a loan; family members helped.
She estimates she has photographed 200 dogs. A series she did depicting women in stylish high heels alongside doggy legs sold at a gallery this year. Her work has also appeared in US Weekly and Dog Fancy magazines.
”The most important part of what I do is letting the dogs sniff around the shop,” she says. “They become acquainted with the objects and that helps them relax.”
She does not do cutsie-pie pictures, but serious portraits. ”I try to capture their personality,” says Guberek, who may lie on the floor or seek an overhead angle. She may whistle or talk to the subject in a high voice to command attention.