photo-morphic art of pets and their masters



It has often been said that people and their pets tend to look alike. Recent studies even show, that some of this can be traced back to when the pet owners first acquire their animals. It seems that people out shopping for the next addition to their family, tend to buy pets with features somewhat similar to their own. Whether true or not, the ongoing photographic project of BC Baggett, M. Photog., M. Artist, MEI, Cr., CPP, takes this phenomenon to the next level. He photographs the pet and their master, separately, then blends, or morphs the two images together to create the final print. He calls it his Pet Project.

BC and his wife Susan are great lovers of animals themselves. When they packed their bags in 1979 and left Virginia Beach to open a studio in Indiana, they took off with their three dogs and cat. Together, they have owned pets for amost thirty years. They have shared their lives with a half dozen Golden Retrievers and raised sixty three Golden pups. During that same time they have shared their home with four wonderful cats, and countless outdoor farm cats. Like many true pet lovers, their animals are like their children. “They really become a part of us.” says BC.

Back in 1998, BC had a photographic vision. Like many photographers, sometimes these visions just pop into our heads. Whether waking up late at night with an idea that won’t go away, or consciously trying to expand on a creative spark, sometimes great ideas are born in strange ways. His idea was to take a photograph of Tanya Schaick, a close friend of the Baggett’s, and her dog Aspen. Then, through the use of Photoshop and the computer, attempt to blend the two images of the master and her pet together into one. “I think it must have been Aspen’s clear, piercing blue eyes” that gave me that original spark of creative energy.” he says.

Malamutation, the final image created from that first Pet Project session, was an image that almost didn’t happen. BC had the inspiration and shot the subjects for the image several years prior to actually creating it. When time came to start thinking about what he would do for print competition that year, BC sent seventeen images—the original negatives and transparencies—to the lab to be scanned. On the way back from the lab, the worst thing that could happen, did. The truck that the overnight shipment was in caught fire and every image was completely destroyed. BC was devastated. All of what he considered to be his best work for that year was lost—not just the prints—the original film. He didn’t enter print competition that year, but the image of Malamutation was never completely lost from his mind. Several years went by, but he finally went back to the negative files and pulled some of the reject negatives with renewed interest in the project. Since he had recently purchased his own high quality film scanner – an Imacon Flextight Precision II – this time around, the negatives never had to leave the studio.

Malamutation went on to earn several top awards for BC. It was part of his print case that earned him the Indiana Photographer of the Year Award and the Fuji Masterpiece Award. It was accepted into PPA’s Loan Collection and earned BC the Golden Medallion Award at the 2001 Imaging USA Convention and International Print Competition in Chicago, Illinois. The award is presented to the top image in the international exhibit.

Soon after BC completed Malamutation, Tom Schaick, husband of Aspen’s master Tanya, acquired a beautiful Chocolate Labrador Retriever. Of course, BC wanted to create a companion image to go along with his first creation. For this image of Tom and his buddy, Quincy, BC decided he wanted to include some element in the image that would distinguish it somehow, or add a bit of “personality” to the image. “It was only natural that we include the cigar” says BC. “Tom always has one in his hand when he’s relaxing, lit or not. I also went to the trouble of digitally removing Tom’s glasses and placing them on Quincy. The glasses are so much a part of how we know Tom.”

So, the second image in the Pet Project, Afidonado, was created. That image fared quite well in competition the next year as well. It too, helped earn BC the Indiana Photographer of the Year Award that year. In addition, the image won him another Fuji Masterpiece Award, was also accepted into the PPA Loan Collection and chosen for the ASP 100. The image was also recently featured in a marketing campaign by Burrell Pro Labs.

Somewhere along the way, about the time Afidonado began to take shape, he thought about the possibility of creating other images of pets and their masters. And so, the idea of the Pet Project was born. “I’ve had the idea for a long time, and have been trying to decide where to go with it. A book sounds interesting, after I have enough material, but that’s a pretty lofty goal. Who knows? If I can put together enough images and it seems interesting enough as a whole, then maybe.”

It’s been a slow, steady, work-in-progress so far. The third image, Tribute to the Heroes, was a PPA merit print for BC last year, and the fourth, Black Beauty, also merited at the national competition and like Malamutation and Afidonado, went on to be selected for the Loan Collection and the ASP Traveling 100. He has another half dozen or so potential Pet Project sessions already photographed, but the morphing process has not been completed. As of now, BC plans to offer some of the images for sale, both in open and limited edition series. He plans to have Burrell Colour produce the open edition 16x20 prints and in conjuction with Masterworks Imaging, he will print the limited edition fine art images himself on archival, museum quality paper and pigment inks.

Some have already expressed an interest in the prints.” says the artist. “But it’s been slow to develop. I have been trying to get all my ducks in a row with finding the right fine art media for the limited edition run, and with getting my web site up and running. I’d like to have it all come together before I turn it loose. Initially, it was an idea for just one image, then two. Now, it has slowly grown into what I hope to be an ongoing project. I’ve just got to get all the pieces put together. I hope to give each image in the Pet Project series a unique character all it’s own. Each is a one-of-a-kind work of art, that says a little bit about the master and their pet.”

BC and his wife Susan, own and operate Picture Perfect Photography Studio, Inc., in the small, Southern Indiana town of Jasper. The majority of their work is produced for portrait clients but they also take on various types of commercial assignments and specialize in electronic imaging. They also operate a full-service custom mat & frame shop and more recently developed MasterWorks Imaging, specializing in digital fine art printing on specialty art papers.


BC's fifth image in the Pet Project Series "goes Loan". Mrs. Blue Blood was accepted into PPA's Loan Collection and will be on exhibit in January at Imaging USA 2007 in San Antonio. It also earned BC yet another PPI and PPA Photographer of the Year awards.

Check back for more details on this project. For more information about BC and his wife Susan, take a look at their bio. For current infomation and availability of his Pet Project images, contact him by email or at 812-482-6099.