Barking Blondes: Dog Photographer of the Year, pet portraits and pooch pics on smartphones

Joanne Good and Anna Webb

barking final 300x225 Barking Blondes: Dog Photographer of the Year, pet portraits and pooch pics on smartphonesThe Kennel Club have just announced the winner of their Dog Photographer of the Year. It’s worth taking a look at the finalists. From 5,000 entries with categories such as Dogs at Play or Dogs at Work, they are proof that man’s best friend is always camera friendly.

What makes a good dog photograph? The two of us with our bull breeds, Molly and Matilda, have spent most of this week in front of a lense.

Monday found us at a portrait session in the house of a famous rock star. Name and address withheld because he was doing it as a favour and you know we don’t like to name drop.

In keeping with his energetic stage persona, he suggested he shot the dogs as they were “jumping”! Well, Matilda is a portly bulldog who won’t even jump for a sausage and Molly will only pirouette for a fee so we ended up with head and shoulder shots. Is that unimaginative?

Is a pet portrait less arty than an action shot? It’s arguable that a static portrait is more demanding to perfect. The number one problem being, of course, trying to keep the mutt still. Although the benefits of lights and studio equipment are a definite advantage, natural lighting and outdoor shots, capture dogs doing what they most like to do. The energetic ones, that is. A Labrador swimming or a pointer jumping through grass, some might say, is poetry in motion.

Do you have to be a dog lover to capture the spirit of a dog? Yesterday, found us ensconced in a massive studio in East London posing with the dogs, for the cover shot of our, soon to be published book. The photographer had to decide who should take priority. We, the authors or our dogs, who are the main storyline? After a couple of hours of waving squeaky toys and the girls lapping up gallons of water to stop the panting, a decision was made. The dogs won. In every shot they upstaged us, simply because they are dogs.

He made us cover our faces. No contest. Their appealing honest, trusting eyes are looking out at the reader, whilst ours are hidden behind props. Only our legs are in view. Two inches of make-up gone to waste. Most dog owners will have endless pics of their pooches on their phone. including London cabbies. They often stop us, lean out of windows and shove their phones at us.

“Here’s my Max, when he was a puppy” or “Oh and here’s one of him with the wife’s bra, the little devil”. Most of these pics have wicked red eye which makes dogs on smart phones resemble the devil. Our dogs are quite a familiar sight around London and occasionally Gary, the local Big Issue seller will keep an eye out for them whilst we are in the supermarket. A while back, we came out to find one shopper, laden down with bags, kneeling and taking a pic of Matilda on his mobile.

“What breed is she?” he asked.

“A British bulldog,” we replied.

“Do they need much space?’ he asked.

“ To do what?” we replied “To live, yes they need space but to exercise, well not as much as a terrier”.

“ I’m going to send this pic to my girlfriend,” he said. “She wants a dog.”

The mind boggles as to what her reaction was to his picture of a random dog outside a supermarket with the text: “WHAT DO YOU THINK? x”

Maybe it was.


Barking at the Moon is on every Thursday from 10pm to midnight on BBC London 94.9FM

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  • elaine4queen ♔

    i take tons of photos of my staffie, poppet. as you say, these breeds are not exactly graceful. i would pay good money to see a staffie race, it’d be the best comedy. she does make a good portrait subject, though.

  • David

    I have a very clever egg collecting Frenchie who is also quite photogenic!

  • hectorsmum

    Love it but Pugs always win with me. Such Characters.

  • Heathbar

    Peter, why don’t you send the picture to your computer, that way you will have it somewhere else and if your phone loses it no harm done! It will also free up more space on your phone to take more pictures!

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