Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
Perhaps he’s driven to capture perfect portrait moments because of his grasp of the finite nature of life. One thing is sure: the moments Bruce captures are magical.
He has photographed many pets, and naturally, some have passed away. “Clients have come back to say how much a professional photograph meant to them,” Bruce shares. “Contributing to their memories is very satisfying.”
He didn’t plan his lifetime career – he was just a young GI overseas, getting great shots with a 35mm camera.
“My photos sold. One tour of duty was Italy. I was discharged overseas, I was single, so I traveled everywhere for six months!”
Once stateside he went into wedding photography. Thirty years later, he’s a sought after talent.
An avid traveler, Berg has “been to 46 states and 44 countries. My goal is 50 of each.”
When he needs roots, the fifth-generation Oregonian enjoys his home studio in his 1901 historic home in Springfield.
But his gritty Oregon Trail pedigree doesn’t help him remember punch lines – but he insists his sense of humor is REALLY good!
Raised with cats and dogs, Bruce credits his own family’s little dog – who he didn’t want at first -- for developing his ease in photographing dogs.
“One day I came home and there's this little dog, half Chi and half Papillion, a little baby – Ricci. It only took a short time for him to steal my heart. Wouldn't trade him for anything now.”
Twenty-five years into his career, five years ago, Bruce began shooting photos of pets.
“Timing is really critical — pets are like little kids, you can't control them — you have to be flexible. They all have personalities, and fears too. Every dog is different.”
“After I started taking photos of Ricci, I began taking photos of dogs in my profession. Then I started working with Greenhill Humane Society.” Pet-tober, held in October, raises $25 from every photo session for Greenhill. The photos are posted on a blog, and the one that gets the most votes is the grand winner.”
Given that Bruce’s favorite movies are the Lord of the Rings series, maybe Ricci is his Samwise Gamgee, a diminutive and constant friend and helper. And when things get too quiet, “Ricci has a little squeaky toy I kick and we play this little game ‘til he’s tired.”
Bruce has faced ‘too quiet’ frequently in recent months.
“My wife died in June, after 35 years. I lost the mother of my kids, my best friend,” he shares. “Ricci was used to being home all the time with his mom. He literally waited at the door for three days waiting for her to come home. Now he's got his little bed in the office with me.”
An avid walker, Bruce’s go-to shoes are his Nikes. His guilty pleasure: Chocolate chip cookies — and a “really good burger!”
Asked what he hopes people see in him, Bruce says, “Someone who's loyal, funny and adventurous.”
When he needs a pick-me-up, Ricci’s silliness makes him laugh.
“No offense to cats, but Ricci totally kills it. He definitely gives me joy.”
Even a huge lottery win wouldn’t stop Berg’s photography work. “One thing I've learned since my wife's passing is that stuff certainly doesn't matter,” he says.
His most prized possession is “probably my wedding ring. I mean I have antiques . . . and they're very nice, but they don't have the same emotional meaning as my wedding ring. It isn't fancy, just a simple gold band. But still.”
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Christy Caballero writes from her soul about animals and their humans. She and hubby Herb compete for space on the couch with three big RagaMuffin cats, two retired racing greyhounds and one slightly neurotic foster greyhound -- who never wants to leave. Ever.
UPDATE: Slightly neurotic foster greyhound / failed foster number three. Never has to leave. Ever.