Last week we spent most of our work days in awe of some pretty adorable dog photography by Perth-based photographer Adam Jackman-Moore. His series titled ‘Pug Life‘ showed us just how gangsta pugs can be when in the photo studio!
From Notorious P.U.G. to 2-Pug, we couldn’t get enough of these hilarious photos. So we asked Adam just how he got into the dog photography biz and how on Earth he manages to get a dog to sit for photo time!
When did you decide to get into photography?
I bought my first serious camera about 10yrs ago to give me something to do as a hobby. At the time I worked as a software engineer from home and needed something to get me out of the house.
Was it always a passion of yours?
I see photographers saying that photography is ‘their passion, their life’ all the time. I’m a little different, I wouldn’t say it is my passion at all. That sort of devotion I save for my wife, kids and dogs. However I do love the creative side of it and creating really cool images. I see it as my creative outlet as opposed to my day job that is all about 1’s and 0’s.
When did you start to focus on dogs in your photography?
About two years ago we fostered our first dog “Cinder” a Cairn Terrier. We noticed that a lot of the images advertising these dogs were pretty average and didn’t sell the dog’s great smiles and personalities. So we offered to take some photos of these rescue dogs for them. It sort of progressed from there into a business but still with a heavy slant towards rescue. At one stage we were photographing dogs from three of the major rescue organizations in our city. It was a great feeling as these dogs were getting adopted within weeks of our photos going up.
Currently, we have scaled back the business to only a booking or two a month. I found that when you make a business of your hobby it tends to takes away a lot of the enjoyment for it, as there are all these business things you need to worry about. That’s one of the main reason I decided to do the Pug Life project. To bring the enjoyment back to my hobby, where I had full control of the creative direction it took.
I can’t even get my dog to sit still for a minute — how do you get all your dogs to pose so elegantly for you photos?
Most dogs don’t pose, you just have to be really quick in capturing that little side glance they give you. It took a while to get that reflex down. But now we can sort of sense when we will get something good. But the key to most dogs is treat, lots and lots of treat. The kind they lose their minds for.
How much Photoshop/editing is involved with each image?
We are not that big on Photoshop. While I know it fairly well I find Lightroom has all that I need for 95% of what we do. From dust removal through to dodging and burning we do it all in Lightroom. Generally however I wouldn’t spend more than an hour on an image. I try to get all the lighting and composition right in the studio so I don’t have to spend hours behind a computer.
Having said that I do have some great ideas for dog composites, so who knows I may have to dust off the old Photoshop skills as Lightroom just isn’t up to that yet.
Can you give us some tips on how to take our own doggie photographs?
It’s all about the dogs and you having fun. If you get stressed out they sense it and the images show that mood in the dog’s expression. If you try and force them to do something they are not keen on. Again it shows in the images. Spend some time playing with them and giving them 100% of your attention at their level.
That’s the key get down to their level and enjoy them just being a dog. Then use their favourite treat or squeaky toy as a visual lure to look at the camera. We find by the end of the session when they know what we are after in our game of ‘look at the camera’ and it is when we get the keepers. Just have patience and have fun. All dogs are different and have different motivations. You just need to find what your dog’s is and use it to your advantage.
Do you have your own dog?
Yes we certainly do. We have Piglet our little Shih Tzu and Emu our old Maltese matron that keeps Piglet
in check. These girls are my world and know the routine so well in the studio they wait in line for their turn in front of the camera.
What can we expect to see from you next?
We still have three reshoots to do for the pug life. So keep an eye out for LL Cool Pug, Easy P and Kid Puggy. We will also be releasing a calendar of these cool kats towards the end of the year.
In addition to this, we are currently gearing up for our “French Angels” project. That sees cute and cuddly French Bulldogs fed a teaspoon of concrete and hardened up into a rival outlaw motorcycle gang. Now this is going to be a fun set of sessions. French Bulldogs are absolute characters and are overflowing with personality.
French bulldogs posing as a rival outlaw motorcycle gang? Oh boy, we’re in for a treat (and we’ll be sure to showcase it here, too).