smile and say treats

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Photographer Paul E. Temple will meow to get his subject’s attention if he has to. He’ll try a high-pitched squeal. Or low-tone rumble.

But it’s often a well-timed “woof!” that really works wonders.

His portfolio shows the results: a pile of happy puppies, a quad of intent cats, a Boston terrier that’s definitely laughing.

“Right now everything’s gone to the pets, and I love it,” he said.

A veteran photographer, Temple began his career shooting family portraits. As the years went by, Temple noticed more and more people wanted Fido in on the fun.

In the 1990s, he began shooting pet portraits with another photographer in southern Maine. With practice, he learned how to get a puppy’s attention, how to make a cat sit still, how to make a lizard look natural.

Temple now shoots pet shows and offers open photo sessions in local pet stores.

Pet photography is one of the biggest parts of his business.

“Right now I’m booked every single weekend until Christmas,” he said.

Temple typically photographs dogs, cats and the occasional rabbit. But he’s also done portraits of lizards, snakes, rats, gerbils, hamsters and guinea pigs.

“(Owners) are just absolutely head over heels in love with their animals,” he said.

Over the years, Temple’s been bitten. He’s been scratched. A few skittish subjects have peed on his hand-painted backgrounds.

It comes with the territory. He’s learned to cope.

If a dog is timid, he’ll ask the owner to do the handling. If a kitten or puppy doesn’t want to stay in front of the camera, he’ll entertain it with a toy, a treat or some noise.

“I can bark right with the best of them,” he said.

Using a mixture of distract-and-entice, Temple has captured the images of animals other photographers have given up on.

“I hear all the time ‘He won’t do it. He won’t do it.’ I end up getting something,” he said.

One of his favorites: a 25-pound black-and-white cat.

Its owner was certain the cat wouldn’t stay still.

Temple got shots of it sitting up proudly.

“The lady just sat there and cried,” he said. “She just loved that cat.”

Temple’s photo packages range from $20 to $70.

Some owners spend $150 or more, paying for extras like a coffee mug with their pet’s picture on it and additional wallet-sized photos to hand out to friends and family.

“This is their kid,” he said.

Ironically, Temple is allergic to animals.

But he says that’ll never make him leave the business.

“I love animals,” he said. “Every one of them has personality. Every last one of them.”

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