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Why the best dog photographers are covered in dirt

    When I come home from some dog photo sessions, my husband looks at me and says, “What the hell happened to you?”

    I say to him, “Baby, the best dog photographers in the world come home looking like this.”

    Because we’ll do whatever it takes to get the right shot.

    See what I did there? I just called myself one of the best dog photographers in the world. I don’t know if I deserve that title but I sure as shit work my ass off to make sure you get kickass images of your dog.

    Fernie at Dishman Hills

    What being one of the best dog photographers means

    There’s a lot that goes with the dog photography business.

    A good dog photographer must understand dog behavior, recognize stress signals and give your pup a break when she needs it.

    She must also take a few minutes to understand your dog’s personality, including the little quirks that make you giggle or fall onto the floor for a snuggle. We talk about all those things during your first phone call — the consultation — and I give your dog a few minutes of free time when we first meet so I can watch and learn.

    Then we get down to business.

    And some of the best shots I get come from an angle most family photographers would never do … because it looks friggin’ awkward on humans.

    The best dog photographers get as low as they can go. Hell, my friend Craig Turner-Bullock does a lot of sessions on the beach in New Zealand and he digs into the sand to get even lower than you’d think he’d want to.

    So yeah … for the bulk of time with you and your dog, I am flat out on the ground, rolling in the dirt.

    Fernie running free

    Sometimes, it’s grass … and I forget to check for goose poop. But whatever, it’s just poop that will clean off in the washer, right?

    Papillon in wheelchair at Black Bay Park in Post Falls, Idaho
    Jake and Jolene

    Other times, it’s a mix of grass and dirt.

    husky and two corgis posing for a portrait at Plantes Ferry in Spokane Valley
    Sephi, Jedha and Alpine

    SIDEBAR: I’ve learned the hard way — lots of scrapes and bruises — that I should be wearing knee and elbow pads. Especially when I’m shooting at Farragut State Park. The beaches there are all rocks … no soft, fluffy sand to dig down into.

    The time of year doesn’t matter either. I’m not impervious to cold, even though I’m Canadian, but I am equipped with great snow pants and other cold gear to make sure you get a great image like Desi on a snow day.

    golden retriever in snow by one of the best dog photographers in Spokane
    Desi in the snow at Plantes Ferry

    Why we get low

    As humans, we look down on our dogs all the time. I mean, they are just right down there.

    We get used to seeing them from that one perspective.

    My mission is to show you a different perspective, a new way of looking at your dog.

    To see the power they have and the force of nature they are. The way they smile when they feel their power and find their place in the world.

    To see the world at their level and to equalize our relationship with them … because I don’t believe in the master-animal, dominance thing. You can piss right off if you’re still using the word “alpha.”

    I believe we are partners with our dog, that they walk with us to teach us and show us a new way of living.

    They make us better people if we give them the space to.

    All around the circle

    The lower you can get, the better.

    #dogsonrocks is another great way to do that.

    Auggie on a rock at Mirabeau

    Getting low is the feature topic for this week’s worldwide pet photographers blog circle. These are some of the best dog photographers in the world, too, so don’t miss the chance to rip through these blog posts and enjoy some great images of dogs and other pets.

    Get started with a tip in a series from Toronto-based dog photographer Terri Jankelow on how to improve your dog portraits.

    At the end of Terri’s post, click the link to the next post and see where we take you. When you find yourself back here to me getting low with dogs around Spokane and North Idaho, you know you’re home.

    Right where you belong.

    And if it’s time find a new perspective with your dog, let’s connect.


    Dogs. Adventure. Outdoors. These words set Angela's heart afire. Angela Schneider, an award-winning writer and dog photographer, documents the story of you and your dog and the adventures you take together. Your portraits will be a statement piece in your home, art that will make your friends and family beg to hear its story.

    3 thoughts on “Why the best dog photographers are covered in dirt”

    1. Umm…. I too have rolled in goose poop (and other various gross things) just to get an amazing shot. I love, love, love that photo of Desi.

      I also believe that we are partners with our dogs, even stewards of them.

      Great post Angela! You’ve done it again!

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