Happily Ever After

Two Giants Photography Captures Precious Moments With Pets

Feb 22, 2019
Photo by: Two Giants Photography

Two Giants Photography is named for photographer Pat Trotter’s giant schnauzers. Rio, who is “oversized, actually, for a giant,” just recently earned his first title in scent work, or “nose work” (he can expertly sniff out hidden traces of birch, anise and clove). Emmie, not quite a year old, will soon begin search and rescue training.

Trotter is a dog person through and through, with many years of experience in and around the dog breeding and training realms. But perhaps more important, she’s also a people-person, so her ability to connect with two-legged clients is as easy as with the four-legged ones.

She shares “Creative Minds” studio with artist Lisa Ball in Beach Haven, facing North Bay Avenue between Fourth and Fifth streets, in the same strip as Coastal Coffee Co. and Smallcakes.

At her studio, she is set up to do people or pet portraits with a variety of backdrops and props. But on-location shoots are her specialty. For engaged couples – or really, anyone! – she is promoting a new service she calls “A Day in the Life,” where she follows her subject(s) around for a half or full day, capturing their candid precious moments in a photojournalistic style.

“I really like doing people in their environments,” she said.

A day in the life could take the form of an engagement shoot, or some quality time, “just being you, being a family,” she said. The family pets, of course, are welcome to be a part of it. “You gotta have your best friends with you – that’s the best part!”

Brides and dogs make for a winning combination. But no matter the subjects, it’s the interactions, the “togetherness” factor, she zeroes in on. She’s really documenting a relationship, she explained.

“I like the documentary-type stuff,” she said. “The story behind the story.”

Trotter has spent summers on Long Beach Island all her life since her parents bought their beach house in 1955. They were a military family, so while their primary residence changed often, LBI was the constant.

Trotter always had an interest in photography. She studied at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications in the ’70s, but took a different route professionally, instead doing marketing and public relations in the thoroughbred racing industry. Later she pursued an advanced degree in public administration and worked for the Kentucky Department of Education for 16 years until she retired in 2016.

Nowadays she seizes opportunities to attend photography workshops – Maine, New Mexico, Cuba – to broaden her experience and refine her skills. She counts her versatility among her greatest strengths.

“This is my stress relief,” she said. “I love just going out walking with my camera.”

Everybody takes pictures nowadays, but in Trotter’s opinion, what sets her apart as a professional is not only what she sees, but how – and “the relationship you establish” with the subject.

She’s a Nikon loyalist, shooting a D850 and a D810 (with her D750 as “a good backup”), and sticks mainly to three zoom lenses: a regular, mid-range and ultra-wide-angle. She uses Profoto lighting equipment and a few smaller Nikon speedlights.

For dog portraits, she encourages owners to let the dogs roam loose about the studio, smell all the smells, get to know the space and feel comfortable. “You really need two people to do a good dog picture,” Trotter explained – one to elicit the dog’s response and one to click the shutter.

She assures the dog owners: “Don’t fuss; we’ll catch it,” reasoning, there’s just no point in losing patience with an animal whose attention span is zero. Moreover, “you’re working with a living creature who doesn’t understand what you’re trying to do.”

In people, she loves to show the character in facial expressions, the way personality comes through in body language.

“I love finding new ways of showing what’s going on in the world,” she said.

— Victoria Ford

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