Aki Yamaguchi Photography

Capture the Angels

Behind the scenes: “Heart Dog” Photography book


Here is a little background on how this book came together and the challenge of completing it in such a short time. I just mailed my last book from the Kickstarter campaign last night and I still cannot believe we did it — not just making the book, but raising the funds, printing, and things like gluing hundreds of labels on the packages!

I started writing down my thoughts in my journal over a year and half ago, just after I begun taking pictures of my dogs more seriously. Putting this book together was not easy, but I absolutely enjoyed the process. I often woke up in the middle of the night and jotted down my thoughts on my iPhone so that I wouldn’t forget. Writing about my past reminded me how determined and resilient I used to be. And I vaguely knew that I was ultimately writing it for my future book, published or not. Part of me had hoped it would be published, but I had pushed that idea away to remain realistic. Two days ago, I learned one more loathsome fact about the personal matter I was going through, something related to the reason I started writing my journal in the first place, some of which I went into in the book.

I have never cried so hard, felt more betrayed and fooled. I had finally found peace recently, but it was like someone ripped my old wound and put salt on it all over again. That night I held Jazzy and picked up my book that was sitting next to my bed. At that point, I realized that it was a gift from myself a year and half ago to me that day — as if the past me knew that I would need it now.

I hit my first roadblock when it was time to actually print the books. It would have taken a couple of years to find a publisher, if that were even possible for an amateur author like me. I didn’t have a chunk of money lying around to go with the transitional self-publishing option. I thought about printing just a couple of books for me, my mom, and my close friends, if none of the options worked out for me. That’s when Mary-Floye, a friend through the dog rescue world, suggested I looked into Kickstarter. I would have needed at least $15,000 but I doubted I would get even $10,000. I asked myself why a stranger would want to spend money on a photography book s/he had never heard of. Another friend, JC, and I went back and forth on text messages what goal amount I should set. It is risky, because if you set your goal too high and you don’t meet that goal, you’ll get nothing. It’s all-or-nothing. First I said $10,000. JC said $15,000. I hesitantly increased the amount to $12,500 in the end. JC continued to text me, “fifteeeeeeen”! I chuckled and appreciated the fact that she had faith in me. I ended up getting over $17,000 from Kickstarter and additional donations in person. With the extra funds, I was able to upgrade the quality of the paper.


Fast forward to November. I was in the final crunch, just three days before my trip to Japan. The timing could not have been worse. In order for me to get the books printed, packaged, and shipped for Christmas, I had to completely finish all edits and decisions on the book before I left for Japan. Canceling my trip to see my parents, whom I hadn’t seen for years, was not even up for consideration. I did not sleep at all for three days, trying to make the final changes after my proofreader sent me the corrections. My biggest nemeses were “orphans” and “widows”. They always got in the way of my layout and design! After sending the final file over to the printer just a few hours before leaving for the airport, I found a few minor errors that were made while fixing those orphans and widows. (AGGHHH!!!) I was already on my flight to Japan and there was nothing I could do at that point. I felt my heart sink, and it took me a few days to recover from it.

Then another hurdle came when I learned that I wouldn’t get my books from the printer for 10 more days. This messed up my plan for the international shipping. There was no way I could get them delivered to Brazil, Ireland, or Indonesia in one week. Some people were hoping to receive the book to give as a Christmas gift. I kept reminding myself that there is always a solution to everything. I ended up spending several hundred extra dollars out of my pocket, but I found a way to get them shipped much faster. I hope my readers enjoy the book, as that would be the biggest payback and reward for me.

When I finally got the books delivered to me, I wasn’t able to open the boxes for a few hours. I was scared. I had had a nightmare the previous evening, and in it the books were in horrible quality and condition. I paced back and forth, had a tiny bit of moscato to calm my nerves down, and prayed that the books were at least decent. When I opened the first box, a shiny cover with Jazzy’s nose peeked through. I flipped through a few pages and I broke down in tears.


Is that me?

This was the moment I worked all these thousands of hours for. I still don’t know how in the world I made this happen and where I found all the energy to do it. I even agreed to do an interview on TV — something I would never have considered doing, as I hate being in the spotlight. All I know is that, with the support of friends, online cheerleaders, and complete strangers, I was able to take something inside of me and to dedicate myself to this project unrelentingly. And, at times, I sensed “something” was guiding me through. I prayed and thanked my late spiritual mentor and my grandma every time I was given the strength to continue.

During the interview

During the interview

Santa’s workshop finally opened in early December. My house was stuffed with boxes, and I was buried in books, strings, and charms. I stayed up till 5 in the morning tying the bows on the bookmarks and personally packaging hundreds of books, one by one. I wanted the books to feel warm and personal to my future readers. My friends came over as little elves to help me pack and seal—thank you Diane, Cole, Amy, and Marq!


Thank you, all of you, again for helping us by pledging, sharing, purchasing a copy, and just being there for me emotionally. Through this project, I realized how many amazing friends I do really have. From the bottom of my heart…Thank you.

I owe my dogs a lot of pond time. They have been so patient with me when I couldn’t take them for a nice romp and swim. My biggest thanks to my two most wonderful dogs in the Universe.

If you happen to enjoy the book, I would like to ask you to kindly visit my website and leave a review. That will greatly help with future orders. Every dollar from the book sale will go to the foster dogs at Blisswood ranch.


My sidekicks

My sidekicks

For International order

The books are now available for customers outside of U.S. Unfortunately, the online store doesn’t calculate the correct shipping rate. (They are over estimated) So to save you money on shipping, please contact me via email so that I can send you a paypal invoice.

Shipping to Canada

Regular post $12 (per book)
Priority $20 (up to two books)

Shipping to other countries

Regular post $19 (per book)
Priority $24 (up to two books)

20 comments on “Behind the scenes: “Heart Dog” Photography book

  1. Fenne
    December 14, 2014

    looking forward to it 🙂

  2. Deanne Famolare Harris
    December 18, 2014

    Can’t wait to get my copy! So very proud of you my friend!! Give JJ and Coopie a hug from Auntie Deanne! Oh, and my JJ sends extra kisses to Coopie!

    • bwbc
      December 18, 2014

      Big squeeze from team JAC! ❤

  3. Anonymous
    December 18, 2014

    Aki, you are one amazing being and proud to know someone who never gives up on her dreams! Looking forward to some “bliss” time soon!

    • bwbc
      December 19, 2014

      I think I have some idea who this comment was from. 🙂 Thanks for your kind comment. Have a happy winter holiday!

  4. Kim
    December 18, 2014

    I shed a tear or two here, lots of love to you my friend…Kim (and Cay)

    • bwbc
      December 18, 2014

      Hugs to you! Thank you my sweet friend.

  5. Sara Larsen
    December 18, 2014

    Beautiful post..teared up while reading. You are such an inspiration. We can’t wait to get our books. Congratulations!!!

    • bwbc
      December 18, 2014

      Thank you Sara 🙂 ❤

  6. Courtney DeHart
    December 18, 2014

    Oh Aki, I am so happy for you and this amazing journey you’ve apparently been on! Every time I gain a little more knowledge of what this project took, I think to myself, “well done friend!” I’ve always known you were a special soul. Always compassionate and generous towards others two legged and especially four. I truly cannot wait to get this book and read and view the contents of your heart. I have a feeling I will be purchasing another copy or two in the future! 😉 Love and hugs to Coop and Jazzybear…and of course to you, Friend.

    • bwbc
      December 19, 2014

      Thank you Courtney for such a heartfelt message. Big hugs back to you from the three of us!

  7. Hannah Leoncio
    December 18, 2014

    Thank you for posting your journey. Even though I am not part of it, I could feel as if I was there. Maybe because of similar feelings and experiences but I always believe that we’re not given trials that we cannot overcome. I was so happy to receive the book yesterday and loving all the photos of Jazzy and Cooper. I cannot wait until I get a nice quiet time to read it while sitting in my favourite chair with my beagles. All the best for the future and please keep up the good work! Hoping for more books too!!!

    • bwbc
      December 19, 2014

      Hi Hannah,
      I’m so glad to hear that the book made it to you safely. Thank you for your kind comment. I too believe that about trials and challenges. Wishing you and your Beagles a wonderful winter holiday.

  8. Wayne Granzin
    December 19, 2014

    mine arrived today. very excited to check it out!

    • bwbc
      January 7, 2015

      I hope you liked it Wayne. 🙂 Sorry for the delay in responding!

  9. Keera
    December 21, 2014

    Thank you for the book. It came two days ago and now enjoying the time going through it. Please give your little helpers a paws up and great big hugs too.

    • bwbc
      January 7, 2015

      Thanks Keera!! 🙂

  10. Ida Franklin
    December 29, 2014

    I ordered a book and some cards for my self. Loved them so much I ordered 4 more for after Christmas gifts. You’re a rockstar Aki. Keep up the good work!

    • bwbc
      January 7, 2015

      Thank you Ida!!!

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This entry was posted on December 12, 2014 by in Recent Posts and tagged , , , , , .
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