Photographer Judith Kaspar has enjoyed taking countless photos of people. But along the way she learned that it's animals those puppy dog eyes and cuddly kitten faces in particular that truly speak to her.


"I love animals," said Kaspar whose Hesperia-area photography studio is seeing an increase in pet-related business.


But that's also because she's clearly not alone in her love of animals.


"I get pleasure out of seeing people see their pets in photographs."


During a recent shoot, Kaspar took a photo series of Kadince Griffiths of Hesperia and her family's two black pomeranian puppies, "Mini" and "Ashley." At first the cute youngster's smile seemed a little too staged, so Kaspar sought the assistance of the girl's parents, Toni and Donavan Griffiths. Dad had the perfect words to bring out a relaxed, natural grin. The puppies, however, needed no coaching. They were naturals.


At the conclusion of the session, Kaspar told the Griffiths to come back in a few days to select their favorites.


While the photos of Kadince, Mini and Ashley are sure to bring endless smiles to the Griffiths family and their house guests, not all of Kaspar's customers respond with a chuckle or smile.


"I had a lady the other day in tears," she said.


That's because the photos of the woman's aging pooch became especially meaningful after the dog passed away. The high-quality pictures will forever tell the story of the woman's love for her loyal friend.


"You just never know what will happen."


Kaspar certainly relates to such pet-owner bonding. "Ours is like our kid," she said of her pomeranian.


Kaspar has taken photos of livestock, exotic pets, cats and dogs. The key each time is being sensitive to the animal and not rushing.


"It's just a patience thing. I have a lot [of patience] for pets."


And each animal brings a different temperment. Even the cutest animal may have an unexpected response to the world of modeling.


"I never approach them. I let them come to me. I've had some had some look at me like, 'I'm going to tear your arm off.'"


More often, however, puppies might not be interested in being the next super model.


"The pups say, 'Forget it! I'm not doing it!' And they run into the living room."


While dogs can be difficult. Cats often are impossible, occasionally disappearing under a couch. So, over time, Kaspar has learned to give a little "settle down time."


Kaspar uses a Canon digital single-lens reflex camera with other professional studio gear such as remotely triggered strobe lights, photo umbrellas and "hair lights" set in the back to catch highlights. She prefers a black backdrop, which creates a more professional appearance. In some photos, the pet appears to be melding in front of an infinite space, which is a particular eye-catching technique.


"All of it is self-taught."


With the aid of Photoshop, subjects can be digitally inserted into a photo, such as a puppy in a boat on a serene lake.


The only other activity that has completely captured Kaspar is her church.


"I'm passionate about church," she said. "When I get interested in something I get so into it I go whole hog."


Judith Kaspar's pet photos can be seen at many area pet hospitals and supply stores. For view more of her work, log onto www.Kasparphotos.com.