How to be a top dog photographer
Pet portraiture is on the rise with more and more of us keen to get snaps of our pets and even turn it into a professional venture.
People always say never work with animals or children, but our tips from top dog photographer Scott Winchester of Maud Dog Photography will have you photographing the next top dog model before you can say fetch.
Some of you may be thinking, why pet portraiture? Scott told us here at Photography Monthly why it was two paws up for the subject for him: “This was mainly due to customer demand. More and more people came to me for portraits of their dogs so I decided to set up a separate website and branding. The name Maud Dog Photography came about after a few single malts! In this part of the world Maud (the village where I live and have my studio in Scotland) is pronounced 'Mad'! Hence the name 'Maud Dog Photography'! Being a dog owner and animal lover it was a no-brainer to specialise in this. People also spend a lot of money on their dogs…well they are part of the family.”
As expected, pet portraiture can have its challenges. “I guess the hardest thing is the old cliché, never work with children and animals. I do this all the time! You have to be in control to get the photo shoot to go the way you want. Being prepared in advance reduces any difficulties I may encounter.”
But it’s not all about planning and troublesome pets, pet portraiture can be a lot of fun. “My favourite thing about the job is having fun with the dogs, creating beautiful images, seeing the look on my clients faces when they view their images and also making a living out of it!”
There are of course some hidden surprises as Scott told us one of his most memorable moments while on shoot, “I've had a dog catch and eat a rat!”
Fun aside, kit is an important consideration. Scott explained that he uses a Nikon D3 and mostly a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. “I also use 24-120mm f/4 lens. Oh and good boots and waterproofs are worn at all shoots too!” said Scott.
Photo by Scott Winchester
Scott’s golden labrador tips:
“You need patience! You also need to be quick to get what you want; having experience of being a dog handler helps. It’s a good idea to have some knowledge of your camera, such as getting the right exposure, lighting your subject correctly and having a plan beforehand of what you would like to achieve. Communicate with the dog and owner a lot and after the session evaluate it and review what you would do differently to improve next time.”
Photo by Scott Winchester
Here's a bit about Maud Dog Photography:
The website Maud Dog Photography is the only one of its kind in the North of Scotland, as they are specialists in dog portraiture. Their philosophy is to capture images of a beloved pet one in the locations they love best, whether it be at the beach, in the woods or in your arms. Maud Dog Photography aim to bring out your dog’s character during the shoot; do they normally get messy and/or wet when out walking? If the answer is yes then the same will happen during the portrait session! Maud Dog Photography is a sister website of Scott Winchester Photography. Scott is a full-time professional photographer who undertakes commissions for weddings, family portraits and of course dog portraits.
Photo by Scott Winchester
In the mag
Someone else who has capturing the essence of the dog down to a T is Sarah Bourque, who we featured in the May issue of the magazine. Sarah has produced some beautiful portraits of her canine friends and it was therefore no surprise that we featured her as our WOW! story.
You can read the full article online by clicking here. You can also download this fantastic dog app, which tells you all you need to know about taking your best friend on holiday with you! play.google.com/dogfriendlyholidays
2012 Overall winner Catherine Laurenson
If you feel inspired after reading this article and looking at Sarah's images, then why not have a go at entering the Kennel Club dog photographic competition?
The Kennel Club Dog Photographer of the Year competition is open now and free to enter. Categories include Man’s Best Friend, Dog Portrait, Puppies, Dogs at Work, Dogs at Play and, solely for under 16’s, I Love Dogs Because. The deadline is 31 August and entries can be submitted here.
Please see the press release below for more details.
Prestigious annual photography competition, the Kennel Club Dog Photographer of the Year, which attracts international coverage and is viewed by tens of thousands of people from around the world, is now open and free to enter.
The Kennel Club, the organisers of the annual competition, waived the entry fee in 2012 to encourage more people to enter. As a result, the competition saw almost 5,000 entries last year, more than double the previous year. Hoping to build on the success of 2012, the competition is again free to enter and the only criteria are that the images are of good quality and in high resolution.
Heidi Hudson, Kennel Club Picture Librarian, who organises the competition said: “Each year the quality of the images we receive really surprises us and they are getting better and better as the competition goes on. I always look forward to seeing the skill that is out there as the dog makes such an interesting subject and every image is unique.”
The Kennel Club launched the Dog Photographer of the Year competition at the world’s biggest dog show, Crufts in March, with award-winning artist Jo Longhurst announced as this year’s guest judge. London-based Royal College of Art graduate, Jo recently won the prestigious Grange Prize for Contemporary Photography at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, and is well known for her work photographing Whippets.
Jo follows in the footsteps of acclaimed photographers Tim Flach (see our interview with Tim in our sister title Professional Photographer) and Martin Usborne as a judge of the popular international competition which is open to both professional and amateur photographers. There are six categories in the competition: Man’s Best Friend, Dog Portrait, Puppies, Dogs at Work, Dogs at Play and, solely for under 16’s, I Love Dogs Because.
The overall winning photo will be published on the front of the Kennel Club’s monthly publication, the Kennel Gazette, the UK’s oldest dog magazine, and all images will be on display at the Discover Dogs event which takes place at Earl’s Court, London on 9-10 November. The winner of the 16 and under category will have their winning image painted by artist Sarah Abbott.
The Kennel Club Dog Photographer of the Year competition is now open and accepting submissions until 31 August. For more information, visit thekennelclub.org.uk/dogphotocompetition.
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