The Hillmans with their dog Cody.

Kristen Hehnke isn’t the braggadocious type, but she’s confident about one thing: “I’m really, really good with dogs,” she said. Hehnke, who worked for Dioji for almost seven years, is also really, really good at photography.

After graduating from film school and moving back to Santa Barbara, she parlayed her two talents into a wedding photo business that brings people’s dogs into the frame. She does non-dog weddings too, but canine portraiture is her specialty. Veils and Tails ( launched in 2012 and covers the Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Santa Maria areas.

Clients almost always worry to Hehnke that she won’t be able to get a good shot of their pup, especially if they’re the energetic type. She reassures them that “no dog is the perfect model,” and that they don’t have to pose. She concentrates on capturing the action, not trying to force things. To get the dog to look at the camera “and get those perked ears,” she’ll either hold out a treat, squeeze a squeak toy, or toss something in the air.

Oftentimes, it’s the owners that need reminding to look up from their dog and into the lens. “Let me do the work,” Hehnke tells them. “That’s what I’m here for.” Hehnke’s experience hasn’t extended to other animals yet, but she’s open to the idea. She’s photographed horses individually, just not in a wedding setting. “That would be epic,” she said.  


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