One of my favourite dog photographers is Elke Vogelsang elkevogelsang.com/en. She takes some amazing pictures of dogs – particularly her 3 dogs Noodles, Scout and Ioli so you can imagine my delight when I found out she was holding a dog photography workshop less than an hour from home. I signed up immediately. I’ve met a couple of other photographers this year that I admire greatly and they were genuinely lovely people wanting to encourage us lesser mortals in the craft as much as possible. Elke was no different.
The course was organised by Fujiholics fujiholics.com/about and the venue was the lovely home of Martin and Sue located in the heart of the Cheshire countryside. We started the day with Elke telling us her personal story about her photographic journey. Much to my delight, we heard lots over the course of the day about her 3 dogs – 2 who were rescued from Spain and one who’s mother was rescued from Spain when she was pregnant. We learned about the dogs’ personalities, their similarities and differences and what motivates them each to be such stunning subjects. Elke talked about techniques for photographing furry subjects both in terms of technical settings and working with the dogs personalities. She talked about perspective, expressions and other photographers that inspire her. She also talked about the business side of pet photography and about social media success.
There was a lovely homemade lunch to split the day which was made complete by a lovely piece of homemade toffee cake. And then the camera’s were out and the dogs were in action. There was Luca the ball loving spaniel, the sophisticated Mr. Jinks, Molly with her wonderful ears, Cassie with her boundless energy and Rufus, Will, Maisy and Ruby the beautiful golden retrievers. The weather was a bit touch and go but we managed a good few hours outside without any significant downpours.
Although I learned lots and lots of things, I think my 5 key learning points from the day were these:
1. Start a picture series – essentially a group of pictures of a certain theme. The dog catching treat series went viral.
2. Get a tube of liver paste. The dogs go crazy for it and it really helps with directing the dog and getting eye contact.
3. Go beyond just getting eye contact and look at the detail in the expressions being captured.
4. Get the shutter speed up, up, up for action shots. Shoot continuously on continuous focus and use a fast memory card too.
5. Think about the colour of the dog’s fur and whether to tone or contrast with it in the choice of background, accessories etc.
I admire the way Elke works hard to improve her photography attributing her success not to talent but to hard work. I love her genuine love and understanding of dogs and the real desire she showed for all of us to take better pictures. It was great to spend a day learning from such a great photographer but it was also great to spend the day with like minded people who love not only photography but are mad about dogs too.
Thanks Elke. Here are a couple of my favourite shots from the day. I hope you like them.