By Prathima Pingali*
After having done pet photography for 4 years and meeting dogs with all sorts of personalities, there’s very little that surprises & challenges me.
One day, I got a text from Sharmila, starting with the usual, “hey, I’m looking for a photoshoot for my pet.” Little did I know that she was going to make me really push myself and my photography skills!
Sharmila’s pup, the very well known – Tokyo the travelling tail – is an adventure dog at heart & her hoomans wanted me to do a birthday photoshoot for her, travel themed! But they didn’t want the simple travel themed cake smash. They wanted to go all out.
After a month of making a mood board, understanding the kind of photos we wanted to take, of plans getting cancelled, pet friendly resorts shutting for renovations, and the lockdown finally lifting, we were able to finalize our day of adventure!
Tokyo is an indie, lockdown pup. Any pet parent today knows that, that sentence speaks for itself. As for all of my Indie clients, a pre-shoot meeting is a must, to let them get used to me & my camera. Tokyo and I hit it off within no time. It was the green signal that we can to go ahead with the shoot.
The city of Bombay was bustling on the morning of July 4. We started our journey to Camp Max – a beautiful pet friendly resort 3 hours outside Bombay – at 6am. Tokyo slept for majority of the car ride on her bright yellow blanket, or what her hoomans call – The Floofintor!
The sun was just starting to warm the air around us as we reached the resort. We had to walk a bit to get to the boat that would take us across the lake to the other side, where our real adventure would start. Sharmila (Tokyo’s mom) loves recording everything Tokyo does and wanted to take a video of her getting into and out of the boat. She put her phone into the pocket of her shorts. I looked at it hanging half out and told her that I should probably put it in my purse. I could hear my dads very famous dialogue in my head “Accidents don’t tell you when they’re about to happen”.
Lo & behold, as we reached the other side of the lake and were getting out of the boat, her phone fell out of her pocket & slipped right between the crack of the ground, straight into 30m deep, mucky waters.
We waited for a good 30 minutes – hoping that one of the locals would be able to find the phone – only to be disappointed. The phone had all of Tokyo’s photos & adventures, but Sharmila wasn’t ready to let this spoil the day. So with spirits still high, we marched on into the main house to decide our game plan for the day.
First up, head into the forest to take photos of Tokyo trekking. July 4 could have easily been the hottest, most humid day of the year – or at least it felt that way to us. With sweat pelting down our faces and absolutely no sign of a cooling breeze, we headed up the lush green hill.
You would think that a dog as small as Tokyo would get tired and ask us to stop for her, instead, as we bent over, trying to catch our breath and take a sip of water, Tokyo was ready to march on and climb higher. She bounded up the highest rocks and took us through the most beautiful trails. She was at home. THIS, was the REAL Tokyo.
As noon was creeping closer, we started our journey back down to the main house for a quick lunch break. Our next location was the one we were the most excited about, Camp Max’s very own waterfall!
In all this time, Sharmila hadn’t forgotten about her phone that was at the bottom of the lake. She wanted to try her luck and went back to the spot to see if any of the locals had found it. AND THEY DID! You won’t believe it, four hours had passed since the phone fell in and it came out in the most pristine condition, working perfectly! We took a photo with all the locals and their sons who helped get the phone back. Their dog swam all the way to our side to make it just intime for the photo as well!
Ah! What a relief! Now that we were back on track, we had a quick lunch & headed out on the long (and confusing) walk towards the waterfall. As we made our way, I saw this tiny, beautiful creek that we just had to stop at. The view was just magnificent and Tokyo made it even more so. Her poise while standing on the ONE rock in the creek, made the photo what it is. I felt like I was just there to capture her in all her beauty. (Though I do have to say, those tiny little fish that we saw in the creek were quite naughty and kept nipping at our feet! Cute, but annoying hehe!)
Finally, after a 10 minute walk to the creek and a 10 minute walk after that, we reached the waterfall. Tokyo bounced onto the highest rock with ease and stood there looking at me. She knew now, that this shoot, this adventure was all about her. I swear, there could have been a spotlight shining down on her from above in that moment. She looked stunning.
Well, on the other hand, things for us hoomans weren’t so easy! We were holding onto each other to make sure we didn’t slip on the rocks, while someone was holding me by my backpack so that I didn’t fall face flat into the water while taking the photos! Hahaha, boy oh boy, was it a team effort!
Tired & panting, we headed back to the main hall where we saw a potter! I told Sharmila, “Why don’t we make a mud plate and then get Tokyo to make her paw print in it as a keepsake and memory of this trip?” They all exclaimed with the idea of it! Lo & behold, we each now have a terracotta plate with Tokyo’s paw print pressed into it hanging in our homes!
The last and final part of our ‘Day of Adventure’ was a cake smash followed by kayaking! Tokyo isn’t a huge fan of cakes as much as she is of duck heads. We had to stuff her duck treats into the cake in order to get her to take a small lick of the cake! We wrapped up the cake smash photos and got into the kayaks just in the nick of time! As the sun set in the horizon, we paddled way out into the lake. Finally, we were blessed with some cool breeze.
In all my years as a pet photographer, I never knew I could have so much fun, yet be so tired at the same time! Tokyo’s energy and spirit was inspiring. She never once pulled back on the leash, or asked us to stop.
What a day!
TOKYO’s ADOPTION STORY
“Post midnight, during our nightly feeding walks for the strays in and around our area, we heard a puppy howling in vain. We found her stuck on the higher floors of an under-construction tower in my residential complex. We tried to catch her and get her down but I believe the security guards spooked her, which resulted in her running for her life only to fall 12 floors down through the bathroom duct breaking her fall thrice. I ran down the steps fearing the worst. But there she lay still with her beautiful green eyes looking at me, silently asking for help. Four days later, we decided to adopt her when she was about 2 months old and that’s how she actually got her name Tokyo – from the character in Money Heist, who comes out of any situation boldly and fearlessly and ever since she has been travelling with us all across the country having visited 4 States and 1 Union territory till date. From the snow-clad mountains in Uttarakhand, beaches in Goa, jungles in Jim Corbett, hustling-bustling cities of Delhi and Mumbai to the desserts in Rajasthan – Tokyo has pawed her way through it all.”
Tokyo has also been featured on @DOGSOFINSTAGRAM and is the first and only Indie to be featured on their Instagram page.
“Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.” – Karen Davison
Tokyo’s life definitely wouldn’t have looked the way it does had she not been adopted. Had she not had the most wonderful hoomans to take care of her.
Every life matters. Adopt don’t shop! Give them the life they deserve, because they’ve not done anything to deserve anything less.
Tokyo’s Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/minijhallipathaaka/
Behind the Scenes Video of the shoot:
*Author is the owner & photographer at ‘Pawparazzi’. She has a bachelor’s degree in filmmaking with a specialization in Photography. She started Pawparazzi in 2017, in her last year of college & in July 2020, she was voted as one of the TOP 25 PET PHOTOGRAPHERS IN THE WORLD!
Prathima started her journey in photography and entrepreneurship in class 10 and after that she went on to win the WES Biennial Photography Competition in 2013 and won First Prize in the Under 18 category, with a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh. You can visit her website https://www.pawparazzi.in/ and Instagram handle @pawparazzi.petphotography.