"I've always had an interest in photography and I started out just photographing animals and it's grown from there."So says Hellertown photographer Jane Caruso, the owner of Contemporary Concepts Photography, a studio specializing in custom pet portraits.

Located on Main Street, in the heart of Hellertown's downtown business district, Contemporary Concepts is the result of Caruso's combined passions for photography and animals.

When it comes to pets, high energy levels, occasional nervousness, excitability around strangers and in new environments, and a host of other factors ensure that "you never know what you're going to get," Caruso said during a recent interview at the studio.

The age of a pet can also play a role in determining how he or she reacts in front of a camera, she added.

"A lot of people call me when their dog's health is failing," Caruso explained. "They'll say, 'Oh, I wish I would have done this years ago.'"

The majority of the pets Caruso photographs are dogs, but she has photographed felines and even snapped shots of a cute ferret once, she recalled, chuckling.

When photographing at her studio, Caruso prefers to "keep things very simple" in order to keep the focus on the animal.

Plush and squeaky toys are always on hand, ready to entertain even the most finicky pet.

Lengthy photo shoots can become problematic with animals, so Caruso tries to limit them to 60 to 90 minutes.

"I usually start my sessions by letting the pet get used to the lighting," she said.

Good behavior on the set is rewarded with "lots of treating," she continued.

Caruso's photography is shot in full color in studio or on location, but clients can then choose black and white, sepia-toned or pan-tinted prints, if they prefer.

Caruso often collaborates with other local pet businesses, and she has traveled as far as the Willow Grove area to photograph four-legged subjects.

More information about her business is available online at www.contemporaryconceptsphotography.com.

The studio is open by appointment only. Questions call 610-360-2005 or to e-mail Caruso at jane@contempphoto.com.

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