The purrrrfect portrait

Gerry Steers has the patience of a saint.

The owner of Gerry’s Computer Magic spends her days doing what she loves best – photographing animals. But it’s not easy.

“It’s a gift from God if they all stay still,” she says. “In fact, it’s almost impossible. You need a lot of patience. You have to work much harder at getting good photos when you’re photographing animals.”

She tells the story of a woman who wanted a Christmas portrait of herself and her two cats. One cat was cooperating, but the other wasn’t.

“His eyes went blacker the madder he got,” Steers laughs.

The shoot ended up taking two hours with Steers crawling under tables and chairs in order to get the perfect shot.

After graduating from the New York Institute of Photography in 2007, the former government computer technician decided to turn her part-time business of photography into a full-time venture. Four years ago, Steers started to concentrate exclusively on animals.

Steers feels her patience and sensitivity to animals makes her a better photographer. She says she can handle and touch them even if their owners say they are difficult to deal with.

“I feel I have more intuition with animals than with people,” she says. “Animals are honest. How they perceive me not only makes me a better photographer, but a better person.”

Steers enjoys capturing animals’ personalities. She takes posed or spontaneous pictures of people’s pets either in her own studio, or the client’s home. Photos can be indoors or out, and she is even willing to go for a hike with the client and pet.

“Generally it’s hard for people to get good pictures of their pets, especially with them in it as well,” she says. “I’m happy to do whatever works for the client.”

Steers finds most of her photographs are of dogs, but she has also taken photos of birds, guinea pigs, and an African grey parrot wearing a top hat and vest. She has even taken a portrait of a chicken, along with its family and Santa Claus.

Steers cautions not to wait too long if you would like a portrait with your pet. She remembers the story of a couple whose dog was ill.

“They had been wanting to do a portrait with their pet for a long time and finally decided to come in,” she says.

The dog died two days later.

“People leave things to the last minute,” says Steers. “Life is too short – do it now, not when it’s too late.”

Steers’ skill in animal portraiture has recently led her to the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter.

She had some ideas on how to improve the photos that the shelter was using to advertise animals up for adoption.

“I wanted to show them at their best,” Steers says.

She now volunteers her time every Monday to take creative photos of animals looking for a home.

“I gussy some of them up, but only those that allow it,” she says.

Steers plans to carry on taking pictures of animals well into the future.

“I’ll continue as long as I can see, am mobile, and people want it,” she says.

Gerry’s Computer Magic is located in Whitehorse. For more information e-mail [email protected].

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