Behind the Scenes: LTD’s Set Stylist are a lot of steps to putting together a catalog. From finding the right product to taking the photo, there are many people hard at work to make it all happen. One person who has a strong hand in putting our catalog is our set stylist, Raymond. Here’s a look behind the scenes with Raymond.

At LTD Commodities, we do almost all of our own catalog photography at our studio here in Bannockburn, IL outside of Chicago – that’s where Raymond works. He works mostly with garden products – string lights for a patio, a garden gnome or a stepping stone — but he works in a pet product every once in a while. Today, they’re taking photos of cat products.

Basically, when you see a product in the catalog, it’s Raymond’s job to dress up the scene so a photographer can take a picture. His scenes are based on the ideas of the buyer – the person who found the product to sell through the catalog – and he makes the ideas a reality. Raymond has a background in painting so he’s very visual and can see how things work for a photograph other people can’t see.

raymondiwthcats5The photographer sets up a product at the right angle; Raymond then puts together a scene around the product to “create a narrative.” He says one of the keys to making his job fun is having the right chemistry with his photographer. “Sometimes we don’t even need to talk,” Raymond explains.

“Every page has to tell a story,” he says as he puts a cat tower in the middle of a square of carpet next to a beige couch and a window. He creates the illusion that the cats are playing in a living room even though we’re in the middle of a big, airy studio.

“I have to set up a balance,” he illustrates, adding teal pillows to the couch and a plant in the corner to add contrast and make the picture “pop off the page”.

Then, they bring in the cats; kittens, to be more precise. It’s beyond the call of duty, but Raymond helps the cats look like they’re playing. They’re semi-professionals, so they’re used to being cute, but sometimes they need coaxing out of their corners with a few feathers. As an animal lover, when the cats come in, it’s one of Raymond’s more enjoyable days.

Sweet Couple Garden Statue

Sweet Couple Garden Statue

On other days, Raymond might be found putting together a scene in a tiny garden – which is one of his favorites. “I get to make a little fantasy world,” he confesses. He’s responsible for the scene of the sweet frog couple garden statue in our catalog right now.

From fairy gardens to cat towers, there’s certainly a lot of diversity in Raymond’s work. “I can’t say it’s ever boring.”

Raymond playing with an arctic fox in LTD's photography studio.

Raymond playing with an arctic fox in LTD’s photography studio.

Taking Care of Your Pet: 6 Questions You Should Ask When You’re looking for a Vet

Vet-with-dogPets are part of the family and we want to take care of them the best we can. So when they get sick, where do we turn? Here are 6 questions you should ask when you’re looking for a vet.

What is the range of services the vet provides? Like a primary care doctor, you want your vet to have a wide range of services. Preventive, diagnosis and treatment, dentistry and surgery are all basic services. Your pet’s breed and age may require care outside of a vet’s scope of ability. It’s important to arm yourself with knowledge of your pet’s needs beyond common illnesses so you can match your pet with the right vet.

Are they accredited by the American Animal Hospital AssociationThis is different than being a member — while membership means meeting standard veterinary practices, accreditation goes a step further with a rigorous evaluation process to provide high quality pet care. You want to make sure your vet is working to give your pet the best care possible; the AAHA has a system of checks and balances in place to make sure your vet knows what he or she is doing.

girl-with-kittensHow quickly can the vet see pets in emergency situations? Pets can’t tell us what’s wrong, if there’s no purr or bark, for all we know they could be bleeding internally at worst or have a mild belly ache at best. We’re over protective and a good vet will know when it’s appropriate to make room in the schedule for your pet to give it the best possible care.

Does the operation offer after hours care? We take for granted that emergency rooms for people are available at any time in every corner of our communities — but it’s not the quite same for pets. Emergencies happen at all hours, and when they do you should know if you can take your furry friend to the vet you chose or if you?ll have to drive ten miles to the pet ER at 2am on a Tuesday. It’s good to know what the situation is and if it will work for you.

How are overnight and weekend patients monitored? It’s alarming to have a sick pet and the stress doubles if you have to leave your pet at the vet’s overnight. It’s important to be comfortable leaving Snowball, so make sure if your pet requires an overnight stay, you’re OK with how the doctors and technicians monitor patients for extended stays. If the office is closed on Sunday with someone coming in to check on the patients once, will you be OK with that? It?s something to consider to give you peace of mind when the time comes.

boy-with-dogWhat is the position on end of life care? We want our pets to live as long and happy lives as possible. Pet owners have different views on appropriately prolonging a pet’s life. You should choose a doctor that shares your view. The end of a pet’s life is painful enough, it shouldn’t be aggravated by a dispute with your doctor.

Like any business, there are good vets and bad vets. If you do your research and ask the right questions, your pet will have a happy and healthy trip to the doctor.