Finding Pigs who Swim in Exuma, The Bahamas.

Finding Pigs who Swim in Exuma, The Bahamas.

Ever wondered what makes a Posh Pets® girl smile? Well, in terms of dream experiences, I have, for quite a while had one involving pigs. Ever since I read an article last year about these delightful, wild, swimming pigs who live on an island in The Bahamas, I’ve wanted to go there. Well, this week, I finally had the chance!

The swimming pigs live on a couple of islands in The Exumas, a region of the Bahamas. The Exumas are a chain of 365 islands – the locals say, one for each day of the year – with the most incredible clear, turquoise waters and a soft, sandy bottom. The clarity is stunning, but it does mean that it is very hard to judge depth which can be a real issue for boaters not familiar with the area. The particular beach we visited was called Big Major Cay. It’s now known as “Pig Beach” after its adorable residents. Isn’t this water gorgeous?

clear turquoise waters of The Exumas

The pigs freely approach boats as they come towards the beach which is why Big Major Cay is the most popular. The Cay is completely protected, resulting in very calm waters in which the pigs feel comfortable swimming. That is why, while a couple of other islands have wild pigs, they do not necessarily swim – their waters are too rough. Most tourists bring veggies or water, so the pigs have learned to look upon us gangly bi-peds as great sources of food. This was the first guy to approach our boat with a big smile!

swimming pig in water, Bahamas

Of course, their real intentions quickly became clear – they were looking for food! Seeing their opened mouths and knowing that they are not domesticated (always respect wildlife!), made me a little nervous to get off the boat. So, I did the wise thing. I let someone else go first. 🙂 But, once I saw that he survived, I was in! I found the piggies to be curious and friendly, so I got to pet a few heads and place a few carrots into eager mouths.

swimming pig with mouth wide open for carrots

These next few images were the ones I really wanted to get. The pigs swim like dogs, doing a little doggie-paddle. So, I wanted to be able to catch the pig with his head out of the water and the sight of his fat little body in the clear water. To do so, I had lure them out to deeper water with the promise of treats. They were funny little guys – they would come out so far, but if they saw someone else closer to land with food, they would give me this look as to say, Nope. Too much trouble., and turn around!

pig photography bahamas

pig swimming in The Bahamas

swimming pig in exam, bahamas

With about 20 adult pigs on the beach, it’s no surprise that there are also little piglets on the island. They don’t venture into the water too much, but they are happy to receive fresh water and apples (softer than carrots) from anyone willing to provide them.

3 little piglets on pig beach, bahamas

And because I am a pet photographer, I had to pose a pig and take a portrait. Well, truth is, there was no posing these guys…I just waited them out. This one was sizing me up. Was the carrot I was holding enough of a temptation to make the effort to swim?

pig portrait on pig beach the bahamas

You can watch a video of the pigs in action here. It was my husband’s first time using a GoPro and he did a great job of catching the underwater action along with what was going on above. Hope you enjoy it!

Getting There: There are various ways from the do-it-yourself to fully guided tours. (1) If you are fortunate enough to own a boat or know someone who does, you could chart a course for Big Major Cay and spend as much time as you like with the swimming swine. (2) You can fly to Exuma and charter a boat. (3) You can book with a tour operator. We were staying in Nassau, so we went with Harbour Safaris who did an amazing job. Our day included transportation on a speed boat, swimming with the pigs, a lovely lunch at Staniel Cay Yacht Club (I hear the parties are legendary), and feeding grapes to a group of wild iguanas on yet another island of The Exumas.

Technical Info: I have never photographed underwater before, so there have understandably been some questions about my camera. These were not taken with my usual workhorse – the Canon 5DMIII – a DSLR I use for client sessions. The simple reason is because I was not ready to invest in the required underwater housing to keep it dry and safe. This is a little point-and-shoot which came with great reviews. It’s the Olympus Stylus Tough TG-4 and it is definitely waterproof and boasts that it can be dropped from a height of 6ft. and still keep ticking. Well, it wasn’t dropped at any time, but it was in and out of salt water, sand, thrown in a bag and it has held up. I rinsed it in clean, fresh water each night and dried it off, but that is just because I am used to showing a certain amount of respect for my equipment. This is a point-and-shoot camera which does not allow you to go into full manual, so as a hardened manual shooter on my DSLR, there was an adjustment period. However, it is truly amazing what can be accomplished by reading the manual and a little practice 🙂

Hope you have enjoyed coming on this little trip! Maybe now you will add seeing the swimming pigs to your travel list too…

Toronto Ice Storm 2013 | Pet Photography

Toronto Ice Storm 2013 | Pet Photography

It’s on the lips of everyone you meet today – questions about this weekend’s Ice Storm. “Did you lose power? Have you got back your power? Did you see the trees? How is your car?” It certainly caused havoc, inconvenience and for some who are still waiting for the lights to come back on, at this point, it is far beyond that. To all of the crews who are working feverishly around the clock to get everyone back on the grid and all of those who are still affected and patiently waiting, thank you! (Toronto Hydro is updating their twitter feed regularly as the work progresses. You can follow them here.)

Here at Posh Pets‘ HQ, we lost power for approximately 6 hours yesterday. We consider ourselves one of the fortunate ones. In that time (during daylight hours), our home became uncomfortably cool. We can only imagine what it is like for the people and pets in the homes across the city where they are still without power and have had to go through 2 nights in darkness, no heat and not even the opportunity for a warm cup of tea or a hot meal. We sincerely hope that friends and family have opened their doors and that everyone is safe!

Venturing outside yesterday for about 20 minutes was enough to convince us that we needed to stay inside. Trees were creaking, power lines sparking, branches falling…it was hard to even walk without risking a nasty tumble. However, we did find some beauty amidst the chaos.

The first thing we noticed were the blades of grass poking out from under the snow were each covered in ice. Individually. It made for a very dimpled surface on the grassy areas.

blades of grass with frozen ice

The sheer weight of having every branch, every acorn, every leaf covered in a thick layer of ice was causing trees to split and branches to sheer off. The sound when they fell was incredible!

frozen acorns and evergreen tree

Nothing was exempt. These railings can take their time to melt and lose their icicles, but people’s cars cannot.

icicles hanging off railing toronto

The sight of ice glistening in the daylight does have its own beauty.

tree branch with layers of ice

Even the animals had to learn to cope.  This little guy had only a frozen dinner for supper last night.

squirrel foraging for food on frozen ice and snow

As bad as the weather outside might be, our pets still have to go. This beautiful senior (she’s 13!) and her human were being extra careful on the slippery sidewalks and ‘grass’.

senior cocker spaniel dog on ice

cocker spaniel examining froze bush

Everywhere you looked, the City was enveloped in a layer of ice and fog.

Toronto during ice storm 2013

So, there you have it – a tiny little summary from our part of the world. We hope that wherever you are and whatever you are doing, things are slowly getting back to normal. Everyone, please stay safe (and snuggle with your furry faces)!

Visit to Jordan 2 | Toronto Pet Photographer

Visit to Jordan 2 | Toronto Pet Photographer

Having just returned from Jordan last week, we, at Posh Pets, are finally adjusting to the Toronto time zone. Getting over jetlag can be so brutal!

Jordan was truly wonderful! My husband and I love traveling because it gives us an opportunity to see new things and experience exotic places. And, of course, I always love to photograph the little furry creatures that live overseas. In Part 1, I was able to share the images of the cats and dogs we met during our travels across Jordan. In this post, I am happy to showcase some more unusual animals – ones we rarely come in contact with in Toronto.

This little guy with the blue eyes was part of a flock with his shepherd near Mount Nebo. He looks alone here, but I can assure you that he had many other family members with him.

 On the other side of the same road was this young donkey with his momma, who was working. The little colt or foal was so cute and it was sweet how he stuck so closely to her. I love his white and grey coat!Transportation within Petra consists of the following options: a donkey, a camel, a horse or…your feet! The animals are affectionately called Petra taxis, and the guides will call out, “Taxi available – air conditioned!”.
 This is *my* iconic image of Petra. It is how I will always remember it!
Lastly, I just fell in love with this young foal who we met in Jerash. Layla, as I heard she had been named, had been born just 20 days previously and was learning to take her first steps.
 Thanks for taking this little trip with us! Happy travels!

Visit to Jordan – Part 1 | Pet Photographer Canada

Visit to Jordan – Part 1 | Pet Photographer Canada

It feels good to be home! The Posh Pets family just returned from visiting Jordan (yes, the country in amongst Israel, Syria, Iraq, Iran in case you were wondering…) and while travelling is a lot of fun, there is nothing quite like sleeping in your own bed. One of the highlights was the opportunity to walk through the famed Petra, now a “Wonder of the World”. It was truly incredible!

However, as a pet photographer, I am always drawn to photographing the animals I meet in my travels. Some are working animals owned by their employer, some are pets, and some are strays, but the place animals hold within a people does give you insight into a country and its culture. I believe it was Gandhi who said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”, and in my personal experience that is true.

I am happy to say that Jordan does not have nearly as many strays as other countries I have had the pleasure to visit. Those that were, were generally cats who did not look thin and emaciated like so many other animals who live on the street. So, kudos to Jordan!

There is a funny thing about the cats that live in Petra and, for the most part, the rest of Jordan – they are all orange tabbies! In Petra, you can see that they could potentially all be related, but everywhere in the country? We did meet the occasional brown tabby (3, I think), but the rest were all orange. Even stranger is that I have heard that orange tabbies are predominantly male, so who is the busy mom of this brood? I don’t think we will ever know…

The good thing is that in Petra, I believe they are all taken care of by the tourists. They are friendly, used to strangers and have come to learn that these visiting humans cannot resist a cute face and give them food. One orange guy we met walking around a castle ruin in the middle of the wilderness is fed by the staff who work there. So, it seems that the Jordanian kitties have found their place in the tourism industry.

We did meet these two adorable puppies in Petra. I nearly took this little guy home – he literally sat in my arms like this for 10 minutes and looked into my eyes as I talked to him. It was soooo hard to put him down and walk away.

I was somewhat comforted by the fact that he had this little friend to spend his days with. And the fact that the Bedouin who work there seemed to know them and petted them nicely when they approached.

Well, that is it for this instalment! Stay tuned as I will post some images of working animals in Part  2.

Project 52 – Vintage & Retro | Toronto Pet Photography

Project 52 – Vintage & Retro | Toronto Pet Photography

Sorry to have missed last week with Project 52, but this week Posh Pets will make it up with an image from a more exotic locale. This week’s theme was to take an image and then process it in such a way that it would look more vintage and/or retro. My take on that is that the image should look like it came from any other era than our own and that it should involve an animal.

We were actually travelling overseas earlier this week when I took this image of two resting camels. To me, it looks like an image from another time and definitely from another place! I would love to hear your guesses as to where!

Next in the blog circle is San Diego pet photographer Peggy Mundell of DogBreedz. Please check out her blog and keep going around until you end up back here with these two handsome dudes!

Project 52 – Silhouette | Ontario Pet Photographer

Project 52 – Silhouette | Ontario Pet Photographer

It is hard to believe that we have almost reached the end of Project 52 for 2011, but here we are! Given the balmy weather we are enjoying today, no one would think that this is the end of December. But I, for one, will not complain about the lack of  icy conditions and awful commutes. I am sure they are coming.

For this week, we were given the theme “silhouette” and the Posh Pets studio decided to do some still life imagery which I actually love. This beautiful guy hails from South Africa and was a gift from a dear friend of mine who had the opportunity to travel there at the beginning of the year. Usually he sits on my dresser where, interestingly, he has never been thrown onto the floor by one of our acrobatic cats. (Not that they ever admit to moving anything.) I guess he has a quiet resolve about him that even they know it would be wrong to mistreat him so horribly. And so, he stands and carefully watches over the comings and goings that is our life.

Today, however, he was the star of his own photo session and provided a striking silhouette as he marches across the African Savanna…

Hope you enjoyed your visit here today. However, this is a blog circle which means more amazing imagery is just a click away. To start with, please check out the talented Dana Cubbage! Her work is always stunning.

Project 52 – Wild Sightings | Toronto Pet Photographer

Project 52 – Wild Sightings | Toronto Pet Photographer

The Project 52 gang is used to photographing their usual suspects – lovely, furry dogs and cats. So this week, we broke out of our usual modus operandi and went for something a little “wild”. As in, we were to photograph animals that you don’t find curled up on your bed or lying on your couch, but rather those that make their home in the great outdoors.

It was a great idea until the weather decided to play havoc with my plans. Unfortunately, the last few days in Toronto have been wet, wet, wet!  My hope is that all the little creatures have found themselves a nice, warm, dry spot to curl up in rather than scurrying around as subjects for my camera. (Incidentally, the electronics of my camera doesn’t like this kind of wet either.) So, Posh Pets had to go back in the archives to last fall when we had spectacular colours and I photographed this lovely duck.  Look at him, enjoying the day, with his little chest puffed out!

Next up in the blog circle is Scott Robinson of Aussie Dog Photography.  (It is no doubt much drier in Texas!).  Please check out his work and then make your way all around the circle to you come back to Posh Pets.  See you next week!

Project 52 – Repetition | Toronto Pet Photographer

Project 52 – Repetition | Toronto Pet Photographer

This week’s theme was “repetition”.  Well, the week just flew by and so I leave you with something a little different – here is an image we took while we were in Santorini, Greece.  These hardworking donkeys are everywhere on the island and they help the residents and visitors navigate the steep Caldera.  In this case, they are returning home for the evening after helping carry the luggage for a local hotel, a process they repeat every day.  I also love the repetition of the donkeys all in a row and the steps – this is one of my favourite images from the trip!


You also get to participate in “repetition” this week by clicking through each of the blogs in the blog circle.  So, please check out Karla Ogilvie and see what repetition she saw in the world!

Project 52 – In the Garden (Park) | Toronto Animal Photography

Project 52 – In the Garden (Park) | Toronto Animal Photography

Welcome back to another week of Project 52!  This week’s image was to illustrate the theme, “in the garden”.  At first glance, that might seem quite easy.  And, it is true that there is much room for inspiration in a garden.  However, it is much more difficult if one does not actually have a garden.  But we, at Posh Pets are resourceful and headed off to a park.  Afterall, I reasoned, a park is nothing more than a very large garden that is shared by a lot of people.

So, off we went to High Park in Toronto once again.  What a difference a week makes!  The Sakura Cherry Blossom trees are now fully open and receiving visitors!  And it definitely made a difference that we set off early in the  morning to arrive at the park by 7:30 a.m. and see the sun bathe the trees in the lovely morning light.

Our first greeter was this little guy.  We found him running around, busy doing what squirrels do in the early morning hours.  But then he stopped…and posed for us!  Here is his portrait.

Next up, was a beautiful robin.  We also found him busy hunting around for worms and such.  But he lifted his head to check us out and that was enough time to have his photo taken.

And, finally, this post would not be complete without a glimpse of the real reason we got up early this week – the lovely Sakura Cherry Blossom trees!


Please take a look at the next blog in our circle.  This time it is Stephanie Madeline of Chase & Snap Photography.  Cannot wait to see who she met in the garden.