Still Life, with Dog

Tucked away in the quiet marina harbor of Sausalito, California is the Holly Stewart Photography studio, where a seven year old Golden Retriever Maximo, also known as Max, works diligently as Holly’s assistant and muse.

Upon Dog Chatter’s arrival Max barreled down the stairs from the second floor studio to our vehicle, bellowing an excited and longing howl, tail wagging full speed, head lowered in anticipation. Laughing Holly exclaimed “Wow, I have never seen him do that before, he remembers people but sure has his favorites!” Max clearly remembered us from our last visit two years earlier!

Chances are, you have already seen the beautiful still life and tempting food images taken by Holly Stewart, which means you have been indirectly touched by Maximo. “I couldn’t imagine life without Maximo,” says Holly, “I have clients who call up and say ‘You know I’d love to shoot with you, but I want to make sure Max is going to be there.’ I say of course he’ll be here, he’s my assistant!” Holly has shot for clients such as the Discovery Channel, Nike, Sony, Victoria’s Secret, and Williams-Sonoma, while Max happily keeps Holly and her clients company. There has never been a client who didn’t want him around.

Max has worked at Holly’s studio since he was a puppy, and can really ham it up for the camera. “Max will sit on the background and immediately pose, smile, and lay down for the camera. He acts like every shoot is his deal,” says Holly. Unfortunately, Max has yet to have his 15 minutes of fame, unlike his predecessor Gus, Holly’s first Golden Retriever. Gus was featured in the Smith & Hawkin catalog, the Wedding Book and other ads. “Max hasn’t had those opportunities yet, but there’s still time!” said Holly. Max has plenty of time at the rate Holly’s Golden Retrievers live. Gus posed for the camera until the ripe age of 17, which is 104 in doggie years!

Life for Max is like a party - the studio is always buzzing with food stylists, clothing and product stylists, makeup artists, and clients. His favorite work days are food shoots, where magically he becomes the food stylists’ best friend. Naturally, Max spends much of his time in the studio’s kitchen, all trash cans have lids so he doesn’t go fishing for treats. During our interview Maximo’s eyes were intently fixed on Holly preparing food in the kitchen, waiting for something to drop, as something always does. Delivery days are particularly good for Max, if he sees a brown truck he starts whining because the UPS carrier always gives him bones, and if they don’t he’s all over their pockets.

During office downtime Max enjoys hanging out with his K9 friends who work next door: Sacha, Peanuts, and Jordie. Away from the office Holly takes Max hiking up Mt. Tam three days a week. “My husband Ed thinks Max is so lucky and calls him the Prince. When I’m super busy at work Ed tells me to get up earlier to take Max on his hikes. I do it because I know it makes Max happy,” says Holly with a wink.

With all his friends and busy work schedule Max still manages to spend quality time with his family. He visits his sister Angie in Sonoma regularly. “They have the same mannerism but she is smaller and looks like she has eyeliner on. Angie is such a girl!” says Holly. At home Max sleeps in Holly’s bedroom, even though he has many beds throughout the house.

Holly Stewart’s favorite job is photography, but the best part of her job is looking over at her dog in his bed, while she is working on her computer or lighting a shot. Max brightens up Holly’s life, he is her company, pleasure, and inspiration. In Holly’s world one thing is certain, life still is and always will be with dog.

For more information on Holly Stewart and to see her beautiful photos visit her web site at:

You can view some of my prints for sale on

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.