Great success! Shoot and Share photo contest, 2019. Stories behind the entries

That’s a wrap! The 2019 Shoot and Share photo contest has drawn to a close. I’d call it very successful!

I submitted 10 photos to this contest, and all but two of them placed in the top 10% of all images submitted. My images were lucky enough to enjoy place in the top 100 three times, with one even placing 2nd! I thought you might be interested in hearing a little bit about how I created the images that placed highest.

“Pardon me, did you say food?” 2nd place out of 24,500 photos

“Pardon me, did you say food?” 2nd place out of 24,500 photos

2nd Place

“Pardon me…?” - The Story Behind the Photo

The story behind this image is about as simple as the image itself. This is Cohen, my Always Up For Anything dog. She learns new things incredibly quickly, and nothing ever fazes her. I taped some craft paper to some furniture, poked a hole in it, then asked Cohen to poke her nose through. It only took 2-3 holes before we captured the shot I was looking for.

This was taken back before I had any studio lighting. It was captured with window light, a large sheet of paper and a tricky-savvy dog.

Lottie and Grizzly - 8th place out of 24,540 submitted photos

Lottie and Grizzly - 8th place out of 24,540 submitted photos

8th place

Lottie and Grizzly - the story behind the photo

People familiar with my work may recognize Lottie as the expressive border collie who features in some of my earliest coloured powder work. She and her housemate Grizzly traveled all the way from Sudbury to Toronto to participate in this model call.

This photo was kinda-sorta an accident. I knew that these two had this adorable trick before we shot this day, but my focus was on action/powder photos. Once we’d wrapped up their session for the day and the light was fading fast, we rushed to set up this trick. Unfortunately, since we were shooting disc on a large field, we were a bit limited when it came to options to take a portrait photo (as I normally like to use shrubbery to create depth and interest in my work). We asked the dogs to hop up on a wall, strike a pose and CLICK, we were done in 2-3 minutes, tops. I knew we’d captured something special.

Oh, and did I mention, Lottie was still PINK from our powder shots? Thank goodness for Photoshop. I couldn’t do too much about those wet paws though….

Isla and Breeze - 99th place out of 24,540 submitted photos

Isla and Breeze - 99th place out of 24,540 submitted photos

Top 100

Isla and Breeze - The Story Behind the Photo

This is one of my favourite photos to date. It’s partly because of the content, but mostly because of the editing involved. I don’t have the luxury or desire to spend a great deal of time post-processing every image I take, but this one was something special to me. I had a mental image of what I wanted to create, and I did just that!

I’d recently been looking at the beautiful work of Elena Shumilova, and I wanted to try to capture the same sort of magic she does in her work.

Some things that I modified in creating this image were: Isla’s hat colour, her pompom, her jacket, Breeze’s head position, the snow (this was taken in the fall), the lighting, the overall colour palette. I felt like this image really allowed for me to stretch me creatively, inspiring me to use methods that I’d never used before, but that I have added to my bag of tricks ever since.

top 10%

Here are the images that placed in the top 10%.

Thank you very much to all who organized it, and to those who encouraged me to submit my work to the contest.

Arya the Czech Wolfdog

Beautiful Arya the 11 month old Czech Vlcak made her debut in front of my lens this weekend. To call her stunning is an understatement, don’t you think?

Coloured powder action photos by Jess Bell Photography - Ontario, Canada

Powder + dogs + action = awesome!

These images have recently gone viral! I’m so pleased that people like them. I figured that this warranted me collecting some from my recent project into a gallery dedicated to them. I cannot wait to do more. These shoots are available to clients, either as an add-on to a photography session, or packages are available for groups of 5 or more. Contact me at for further details!

This photo and the rest of my coloured powder series was inspired by the marvelous work of equine photographer Andrea Zachrau Photography. Please go check out her work!


Here are some videos created by a friend from a few of these images. Wow!


Style | Border Collie

© Jess Bell Photography

LEAP into 2019 with me with this incredible picture of Style the Border Collie, taken at one of my holi agility action photo sessions. This is probably one of my favourite action photos I’ve taken! So far at least! There are loads of other awesome photos from this session. Stay tuned for more!

Toronto Dog Photographer Jess Bell Photography, artistic animal imagery, holi powder

You may also be interested in the behind the scenes work that went into this session. I’m in the midst of collecting everything and will include some special material in future posts.

Before & After: Tiger, Tiger!

I always enjoy seeing artists’ before & after images, so I thought I’d share this recent one with you.

Artistic Animal Photography - Jess Bell Photography - Toronto, Ontario
Artistic Animal Photography - Jess Bell Photography - Toronto, Ontario

I had a very particular image in my head that I wanted to create. I had a great bit of source material, but it wasn’t quite as dramatic as what I was initially picturing. The trickiest part was darkening the image around the tiger’s chin and jaw while keeping the detail of the whiskers.

Creative edits like this encourage me to try new things that I might not otherwise discover. I can then take what I’ve learned and apply them to future client shoots.

The Wonder of the Natural World

Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better. - Einstein
© Jess Bell Photography

And now for something completely different! I played around with a technique I don't often use to create this image. I hope you like it! I feel like it's a nice breath of fresh air when compared to my usual fare.

Share if you like! It helps me grow my page a little bit each time. Thank you very much.

Toronto Dog Photographer Jess Bell Photography - artistic animal photography

Adoption spotlight: Teddi

Toronto Dog Photographer Jess Bell Photography - adoption spotlight
Toronto Dog Photographer Jess Bell Photography - adoption spotlight
Toronto Dog Photographer Jess Bell Photography - adoption spotlight

Teddi aka Ted | Mix

© Jess Bell Photography

Ted is a female mix from northern Manitoba. She's approximately 13-weeks old. She will be available for adoption in a couple of weeks through Precious Paws Rescue ( and is located in the Toronto area. Let's find this young, gorgeous girl a perfect home.

She's a confident little lady who's bursting with energy. In my brief time working with her, nothing fazed her. She's learning basic manners and easily adapting to city life.

Please share if you like, and to l help find this gorgeous young lady a home. Every little bit helps.

Photos: Jess Bell Photography

Rescue hosted by Precious Paws Rescue

Disc dog mayhem

These dogs get HIGH.

Thank you Grizzly, Justice and Karma for being fantastic models for me on this gorgeous fall day.

Toronto Dog Sport Photography - Jess Bell Photography - disc dog
Toronto dogs in action photography, Jess Bell Photography, disc dog
Toronto Dog Photography - Jess Bell Photography - dog sports, disc dog


No fear. No mercy.

Toronto Animal Photographer, Animals in action

Mercy | Malinois

And here’s a behind-the-scenes shot from when all the dust settled when we were done!