Amy Clark is pictured with her dogs, Ruger, left, and Nessie.

CEDAR FALLS — For photographer Amy Clark, the magic of capturing a good photo is knowing where her subjects will sniff, how fast they’ll make chase, and the exact moment they’ll flash a very toothy grin.

Clark is owner of Nose Art Studios, an on-location pet photography business that specializes in canine photo shoots.

“I’m the crazy dog lady,” she said, laughing. “My license plates say ‘DOGGMOM.’”

Clark is dog mom to a pack of three German shepherds — Bear, 11; Gypsy, 5; and Nessie, 2 — and Ruger, a 5-year-old mixed breed the family lovingly refers to as a “German-cattle-boxador.” All of them know the click of a camera shutter as a cue to sit for a treat.

But it was Pippa, Clark’s late German shepherd, who inspired her to specialize in canine photography.

“She was my heart dog,” Clark said. “I love that I have all those photos of her. Losing Pippa, I just really saw the value of having those memories, something lasting that really showed her personality.”

Capturing a dog’s personality during a session begins with a chat with the owner, Clark said.

“I like to get the owners to tell me about their pets. Are they playful? Are they serious? I really want to get an idea of how owners and their pets connect,” she said. “If a dog loves to play ball, we do a shoot around that.”

Clark has done photo shoots at parks, on family farms, in homes and wherever owners feel is the best place to bring out the spirit of their furry family members.

While the camera work takes a certain finesse, Clark said she’s worked hard to understand even the subtlest of dog behaviors.

“You have to be able to read their body language,” she explained. “The last thing you want to do it take photos of a stressed dog.”

Nose Art Studios also offers what Clark calls “legacy sessions,” last-minute, same-day sessions if necessary to help families honor an old or terminally ill pet.

“Life moves faster than we’d like and our best friends cross the Rainbow Bridge too soon,” says Clark’s website. “When that time comes, I want to be there for you.”

Clark, a full-time paramedic by day, also uses her photography skills to help animals at Cedar Bend Humane Society and other shelters find homes.

“One really good adoption picture can save a life,” she said.

Clark’s pack includes three rescues. Nessie is a “foster fail” from Cedar Bend. She came to Clark’s home at 9 months old as a foster and never left.

She also puts her lens to work shooting photos of Waterloo Police K-9 dogs. The photos are compiled in a calendar each year and sold to raise funds for K-9 protective equipment.

Clark emphasizes while she specializes in photographing dogs, she also does sessions with other types of pets.

“Pet photography is such a niche. I love it. This is my passion.”

For more information and to see a gallery of Nose Art photos, go to www.noseartstudios.com.

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