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Hermon photographer sets her sights & lens on pet portraits

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Debra Bell (photo by Jesse Schwarcz) Debra Bell (photo by Jesse Schwarcz)

HERMON - More and more family portraits these days are including the family pet, and no one knows that better than Debra Bell of Bell Imaging & Design in Hermon. She's been capturing the loving relationship between parents, their children and their fur babies for years. So much so, in fact, she's created a separate division of Bell Imaging and Design solely dedicated to pet portraits called Bell's Furry Friends Photography.

"Sixty percent of my business over the last year has been animal related, and some of that I think is due to the fact that I have such a passion for what I do," said Bell. 

This animal lover practiced photographing her Maine Coon cat Olivia and her Greyhound Laura years before adding BFF Photography to her business. Bell has also done a lot of research and attended dog training classes to get to know and understand how to snap the best picture of her fur clients just being themselves. 

"Pet and human clients are similar in a lot of ways," Bell explained. "They both require a certain amount of patience, more so with animals since they don't understand why we want them to sit somewhere or do a certain trick. The most rewarding thing is capturing that."

Mike Dow tried time and time again to take pictures of his dog Gordon, but soon realized his four-legged pal was afraid of cameras. So he contacted Bell for help.  

"Deb met us a week before our session so Gordon could become comfortable with her. I adopted him from the Bangor Humane Society in 2008 when he was 2 years old. He came from an abusive home and it takes him a while to warm up to people," explained Dow. "Deb went out of her way to make him comfortable with her. She got down on the ground, played with him and totally won him over. The next time we got together, he was excited to see her and she captured his spirit in those photographs."

Bell uses both her studio and her acre and half of land as backdrops for her pet photos but finds it easier to go to her client's home to snap pictures of the family pet.

"For cat clients and senior pet clients, it's way easier if I go meet them where they are," said Bell. "I had a client last year that was given a portrait session as a gift. They had a beautiful female beagle with cancer named Marti. She lost all her whiskers due to chemotherapy and we captured some really awesome pictures. Unfortunately, she's passed on but I know her owners truly valued her picture."

Besides photography, Bell is also very passionate about giving back. A portion of her sales is earmarked for the Furry Friends Food Bank, a food bank run by the Eastern Area Agency on Aging that helps seniors and adults with disabilities feed their pets.

"Our animals aren't with us as long as our human family members are. I found my clients really value the relationship between them and their pets and want to make sure they treat them just as well as a person's portrait," explained Bell.

For more information on Bell's Furry Friends Photography, log on to or call (207) 356-2353.

Last modified on Friday, 14 June 2013 08:16


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