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Local photographers share their love of animals in their pet portraits

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Desi Lu Photography

Lauren and Dave Clark, co-owners of Desi Lu Pet Portraits, in their studio with their six dogs in Winston-Salem. Dogs are (from left) Kent Clark, Lil’ Ricki, Elton John, Polly and Desi (foreground).

Dave and Lauren Clark, a local husband and wife photography team, have been photographing dogs for 11 years, but they say they are open to photograph any pet.

“Our business has mostly been dogs, but we get cats occasionally,” Lauren said.

Desi Lu Photography

Dave Clark holds Travis Barker, one of his six dogs, in his studio in Winston-Salem.

Dave said that sometimes cats will hide, and they have to search for them.

“Cats are always entertaining,” Lauren said. “We feel like they want to do everything but look at the camera, so we have lots of tricks up our sleeves to try to get them to (look at the camera).”

Scratching noises, cat toys and food, often help keep the furry pets attentive.

Desi Lu Photography

Lauren Clark, co-owner of Desi Lu Pet Portraits on June 22 in Winston-Salem.

“We really want to do some portraits with chickens,” Dave said.

The Clarks are focusing on pet photography through their Desi Lu Pet Portraits business. They live in Winston-Salem and have a studio just outside of Lewisville.

Desi Lu Photography

Desi, the namesake dog of Desi Lu Pet Portraits, sits in the studio.

The “Desi Lu” name comes from their oldest dog, Desi, and their late dog Lucy.

The Clarks have six dogs ranging from 5 to 70 pounds and ages 1 to 13 years old.

They are working on a fundraiser book that will highlight dogs at interesting places and landmarks in the Winston-Salem area.

Desi Lu Photography

Lauren Clark holds one of her six dogs, Elton John, while he sleeps in the Desi Lu Photography studio in Winston-Salem. Clark owns Desi Lu Pet Portraits with her husband, Dave.

The Clarks love to travel and have a camper van and camper that allows them to easily take their dogs on trips with them when their schedule allows.

“We love what we do, and we love it when somebody tells us we really capture the personality of their dog or when we photograph a senior dog that doesn’t have much time left and how important those photographs become to our clients,” Lauren said. “Because we love animals so much, it is a very meaningful profession for us that we enjoy. A day to photograph a dog is a good day.”

Desi Lu Photography

The dogs of Desi Lu Pet Portraits wait for a treat.

Q: How would you describe your photography?

Lauren: We love to create fun, vivid creative portraits of pets and the people that love them. We are inspired by the world around us — whether it is a beautiful mountain scene, beautiful sunsets, interesting architecture or a sun-kissed beach. Our goal with our portrait sessions is to create a beautiful work of art to be displayed on your walls and not just on a computer screen or phone. We try to combine Dave’s love of landscape photography with our combined love of pets to create these pieces.

Desi Lu Photography

Elton John is one of Lauren and David Clark's six dogs.

Dave: We enjoy creating vibrant images of the world around us. We love photographing pets and the bond they share with their humans.

Desi Lu Photography

Travis Barker, one of six dogs owned by Lauren and Dave Clark, lies on the couch at their studio with a toe in the sun.

Q: How have you evolved as a photographer?

Lauren: Dave and I are a photography school love story — having met in photography school 14 years ago. Dave was studying commercial photography, and I was studying wedding and portrait. We have always photographed a little bit of everything — Dave focusing on commercial and landscape photography, and I on portraits of people and pets, and we have photographed weddings together. We have always approached photography very differently. Dave is the technician and loves to paint our images with dynamic and creative lighting. I have always been drawn to people and animals with my photography ... loving to capture moments and stages in life.

DesiLu Photography

Lauren Clark and her husband, Dave, in their studio with three of their dogs.

2020 was a tough year for our industry. We decided to take a close look at what gave us the most joy and decided that that it was photographing pets and the people that love them. We consider dogs to be family and love it when families include their pets in their sessions. We love capturing the special connection between a child and their dog or a senior dog with their beloved owner. And we especially love it when the dogs get featured in their very own session.

DesiLu Photography

Dave Clark, co-owner of Desi Lu Pet Portraits, with his dog Elton John.

Dave: What she said. We try to keep learning and have strived to develop our own look and style.

Q: Who has influenced your photography?

Lauren: Bootsie — our little senior pup that we rescued in 2011. We decided that we wanted to add to our crew and went to the shelter to meet their adoptable pets. When we asked to see the small dogs — they showed us the intake photo of a scared little dog in the corner of the crate. They told us she was a senior dog that had been surrendered by her owner and was mostly blind. We were pretty unsure but decided to meet her. Then they brought out this adorable floof of a dog that was full of personality, and we instantly fell in love. We then wondered why so many people overlooked this adorable pup.

DesiLu Photography

Lauren Clark, co-owner of Desi Lu Pet Portraits, sits with four of her six dogs.

Later that year, we learned of a nonprofit called Project Pearl that was bringing in local photographers to help photograph the shelter pets several times a week. That is when our love of pet photography began. We love using our photography talents to help the helpless in our community to put their best paw forward. We now work closely with Forsyth Humane Society to provide photography for their adoptable pets. We regularly photograph dogs and cats who have been in foster care for a while on our Friday Foster Features on Instagram to highlight adoptable dogs in our community.

DesiLu Photography

Lauren Clark and her husband, Dave, with two of their six dogs in their studio in Winston-Salem. The pair own Desi Lu Pet Portraits.

There are a lot of great photographers that I follow on Instagram that inspire me as well.

Randolph Community College’s Photography degree program was a great starting point for our careers. Not only is that where Dave and I met, but I was connected to my mentor, photographer Christine Rucker, who has had a great influence on my career and life.

Dave: Bootsie is definitely the reason we are going down the road we are currently on. And seeing the adoption rate increase drastically when they were shared on Project Pearl’s Facebook and Instagram spurred us to do more. That led us to moving our business in the direction of pet photography.

DesiLu Photography

Lauren Clark and her husband, Dave, in their studio in Winston-Salem.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

Lauren: Being a small business owner. Running a photography business is about 20% creating photographs and 80% figuring out how to run a business. Being two creatives who love to take photographs and edit them into the perfect wall portrait, the business side is a challenge. There is so much more to it than I ever realized coming into it. As a small business owner, you wear so many hats — photographer, editor, accountant, secretary, scheduler and marketing. But the marketing part is one of the highlights. It is so fun to share our images on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

Dave: Samesies.

Q: What does photography do for you?

Lauren: I feel so fortunate that this is my job, and I get to play with dogs. Life is good. Photography allows me to do something I love for work but also allows us to live a life that we love as well. An added bonus is that I get to do those things with my best friend.

Dave: We realized after adding our sixth dog, that our “What’s one more dog?” limit is six! Our inn is totally full. But focusing on the pet photography allows us to play with more furry friends and give them back when playtime is over.




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