Gauntlet: It’s Another Dog Photo

by Gary Fong
Photographer: Birgit-Cathrin Duval,


Figure 1

Dog photos, cat photos…rooster photos…it’s all the same to me. Maybe it’s my allergies when I get around animals…but I tend NOT to gravitate to general animal photos.  Pet’s doing tricks, running around out of control, or licking the shoe wax off my loafers is not the way to make photo points with me.
Birgit-Cathrin Duval, of Germany (the possible country of origin for the German Shepherd) sent us a photo of a “loving mom” watching “her child” beat off a dog with a stick. The dog thought he was playing fetch the stick…but I’m sure the boy was terrified of this odd strain of fluffy animal that didn’t fit the profile of a police dog.
Duval was doing a fashion shoot with professional models. Adding animals to the project escalates the need to controlling the situation in order to get anything done. The wrong animal chasing or biting people can destroy a whole day of shooting.

Now for the Nit Picking

Figure 2It’s nice working with professional models and professional dogs. Professional dog models have a sense of “time is money” on a shoot. Working with the average everyday mutt can create out of control moments.
With fashion shoots, control of the set is mandatory. If the art director and photographer are trying to build a very defined storyline in the image, cooperation needs to occur among all the subjects, the four-legged variety included. Independent minded dogs or cats with no sense of propriety often disrupt the storyline. In other words, “south end of dogs running north” means the storyline may be a distant aspiration.
Duval sent an image of the noise end facing the camera, but the smiling mutt changed mood moment. How frustrating on deadline. Don’t these dogs speak English???
Animal photos often take an enormous amount of time, watching, waiting, not to mention letting these critters get accustom to the photographer following them around their house.
Kendra Luck of often spends hours and hours watching and working with dogs to get the right moments with the animal “caregivers” (the people of Berkeley have a unique outlook on pet “ownership”). Her approach is generally free flow by constantly observing dogs doing what dogs do. She’s doesn’t have to worry about paying for expensive human models.

If the shoot requires dogs and human models, see if the budget can accommodate professional dog models. If the shoot requires dogs being…dogs, any mutt will do. But try to avoid the "south end of dogs running north" angle.