It's not often we're lucky enough to get interviews with superstars, so when we had the opportunity to chat to Elke Vogelsang, we were more excited than a poodle in a pond! We've noticed how important pet photography is to the Yummyverse, and that's why we chatted to her.
On a side note, she's also a super cool person and her book Nice Nosing You is available now. So here goes!
YP: Okay so we all consider ourselves to be great photographers, especially of our own pets. Our social feeds are filling up with pet photos taken in the moment, so you can understand how excited we are to meet you! We’re not going to list them all but you have been featured pretty much everywhere from The Huffington Post to Bored Panda, and for good reason. So we’re going to start off with a really easy question.
Why do you love to photograph animals?
EV: Photographing animals is a challenge and I love challenges. It’s never boring. Every animal has its unique character and it’s great fun and interesting trying to find out what motivates it and what I have to do to make it look the best (or funniest) in pictures.
Dogs in particular are joyful characters. They find pleasure in the most mundane things. My three Spanish rescue dogs, Noodles, Scout and Ioli, are my joy, recreation and constant source of laughter and smiles. They can be shy and melancholic as well. They comforted me during bad times. I can’t put into words how much they mean to me, so I guess trying to express this in pictures is only natural. They are family. The kind of family members you love to have around and never get into trouble with, because they're unpretentious and forgiving. I wouldn't say I prefer dogs to humans. After all, there are people who mean the world to me, too. But I definitely say that they are the most wonderful companions and a great enrichment to our lives. I hope I can at least give them back half of what they give us.
YP: Tell us about your success, what do you think the reason is that everyone loves you?
EV: I’m not sure everybody loves me, but I guess nearly everybody loves funny pet pictures. Why my pictures are successful I can't tell. I'm constantly reminding myself that this is really happening. It's still like a dream to me. I love what I do, and this might show in my pictures. Since I try to make a living with what I love, it’s wonderful that my pictures are widely appreciated. I’m very thankful for this.
YP: Nice Nosing You is a fantastic book - what advice would you give to people who would like to publish a book about pets?
EV: Thank you very much. Photo series are very popular, especially funny ones. The most successful pet photography books seem to be books with funny picture series, like "Underwater Dogs" by Seth Casteel or "Shake" by Carli Davidson.
Try to find something new, something unique, something funny. Easier said than done, I guess. It seems everything has been photographed before. Nevertheless, love what you do, show that love in your pictures and people will be interested.
YP: We have many fans of photography on Yummypets, for good reason. Do you have any tips to share around the photography of pets for pet parents? You are a pet parent too - could you please tell us more about your three dogs?
EV: The key lies in patience. I have three very different dogs. Noodles is very eager and loves to "work" for treats. Scout used to be shy, but with lots of short and fun lessons I taught her to enjoy being photographed. She is now the first one in the studio and always trying to get into the picture. Ioli is a bit afraid of noises, so he doesn’t like to be photographed with flash. I take pictures of him outside or with continuous light.
Lots of dogs feel uncomfortable when a camera is directed at them. When dogs stare at each other, it usually means there is trouble ahead. Therefore, a large lens being pointed at them makes some feel uncomfortable. Try to introduce the camera as an item that’s not scary, but fun. Never hassle an animal for a picture. Try to capture the unique character of your model. Maybe your dog knows a special trick? Try to take pictures of that, too. Get somebody to help you, somebody who entertains the dog while you take pictures of the action.
When a client dog arrives in my studio I give it some time to sniff around, to explore the room, to get used to the sounds and atmosphere. When I think that the dog seems comfortable I fire a test flash to see how the dog reacts. Most dogs don’t even flinch. If a dog is scared or insecure, it’s mostly because of the sound of the flash, not really the light itself. I put my flash to low power as the sound is more subtle. With lots of treats we try to make the dog pose for my camera. You never know beforehand how the dog will react. I take pictures of rescue dogs to find new homes. Some of them were never taught anything. They don’t know 'sit' or 'stay'. Nevertheless, some of them were the coolest models I ever had in my studio. If a dog is very sensitive and scared I prefer to take pictures outdoors where I can use a tele lens to capture the scene in natural light and from a distance.
In short: Make sure it’s fun for everybody involved.
Get in touch and follow the wonderful Elke at all the links below!
My website: elkevogelsang.com
My book: http://amzn.to/1WTQKYO