Kaia the Golden Retriever at Convict Lake

by | Photo Sessions

Fall Color Session in Mammoth Lakes, California

A little backstory first. I have been working a few shifts a month at a pet store called Pet Power Studio in Encinitas for a couple months now. They have an awesome branded mural wall in their store that most customers like to snap a photo of their dog in front of, so I thought “I’m a San Diego dog photographer, why don’t I bring my camera when I work and take photos of the dogs that come in that day?” My first day trying this out, I met the amazing Kaia and her mom and snapped a few photos of Kaia sitting pretty in front of the wall. I got Kaia’s Instagram handle to send her the photo and noticed her profile picture was an underwater dog photo by Seth Casteel. So cool!

Later when I posted her photo to my story and sent them over to her mom, her mom said she was already following me, but just didn’t put two and two together that it was me working at Pet Power. At around this time, I was advertising my Mammoth fall colors sessions on my instagram feed and stories and it was coming up quickly. Kaia’s mom ended up reaching out and letting me know she was interested and after a little back and forth decided to make the drive up from Temecula just for the photoshoot! I was obviously so stoked and honored. 

golden retriever smiling while standing on a rock in front of a lake and mountain

Since I was shooting at Convict Lake and there is a campground right next to it, Danielle looked and was lucky enough to snag a great camping spot with a view of the lake. She drove up the day before our shoot and set-up camp at a new place she’d never been before. Talk about adventurous! Kaia and Danielle are camping and backpacking pros, so this was a fun adventure for them. That night, the winds picked up and they had to move from their tent to the car to sleep, but they were up and ready for our shoot at 8 am the next morning!

golden retriever standing on a rock next to a lake with mountains in the background

We met at the beginning of the lake and Kaia started with some posing on some large boulders, which she wasn’t super fond of. She also kept eying the water like “Mom, please let me go swimming!” For now, she stayed dry and we walked on the pathway that leads around the lake to find some fall colors for Kaia to pose with. She went up on the rocks at this spot to pose with ease and then got to run for a few action shots!

golden retriever running with yellow leaves surrounding her

After this, we each hopped into our cars and drove towards the other side of the lake to the pebble beach for Kaia to have some more fun in the water. She absolutely loves her tennis ball, so she loved swimming and splashing in the lake even though it was cold.

There is a beautiful trail that leads all the way around the lake and I could see yellow aspen trees in the distance at the other end of the lake and Danielle and Kaia were totally game for hiking to that spot. We hiked about ¾ mile and found the most beautiful aspen grove with plenty of yellow leaves lining the trees. Kaia effortlessly did all her tricks and posed like a professional with the aspens in the background. 

golden retriever dog sitting pretty on a trail with grass and yellow leaves

After we got our fill of photos, we hiked back to our cars and Kaia and her mom continued their road trip to Yosemite National Park. I had so much fun showing them a new (to them) location and sincerely appreciate how much trust Danielle put in me to pick a great spot for fall colors to capture Kaia!

golden retriever looking up at the camera with yellow leaves surrounding her

This was basically my ideal/dream shoot and I love that someone from San Diego made the trip just for photos! Sounds like something I would do. Would you?