When I first saw Elke Vogelsang’s work I couldn’t help but think of those exaggerated, goggle-eyed cat and dog cards sold at our local Cardies store. With a range of Fujifilm equipment, Elke captures pet personalities in a way that you don’t see very often and hopefully, after reading this blog, you too will be inspired to send us your photographs.
It started with three peculiar rescue dogs
Elke is no stranger to photography. Her mother’s love of photography played a major part in her life so when Elke and her husband, adopted their first dog, Noodles, she felt the need to improve her photography skills. She only wanted to capture Noodles’ beauty and character. Who knew that Noodles would inspire her to take the leap and quit her job as freelance translator to become a full-time photographer?
Elke’s three Spanish rescue dogs, Noodles, Scout and Loli, are her inspiration, her source of joy and “beloved family members”. Her work revolves a great deal around these three little characters as she never gets tired of capturing their quirky, funny and beautiful personalities.
How Elke’s book came to be
One Christmas Day, Elke heard her dogs barking hysterically at the closed bathroom door. After investigating, she found that her husband, Carsten, had collapsed. He suffered a major brain haemorrhage and were it not for their dogs, she might’ve not been able to help him. In essence, the rescue dogs became the rescuers! After the incident, Elke turned to photography as a form of therapy.
She then decided to start a 365 Project, which also served as a diary for her husband who was suffering from memory loss at the time. Who knew that those personal and playful portraits of their dogs would later become the inspiration for a book? Nice Nosing You – For the love of life, dogs and photography is dedicated to Carsten, her very best friend and partner in crime.
Tips and tricks for getting that charming shot
Don’t hassle a pet for a picture – you must make the shoot is fun for your model. Remember that treats or toys can easily motivate most pets.
Get down to eye-level with your subject. This will make your image more intriguing and emotional, possibly grabbing the viewer’s attention.
Camera – Setting – Action
If you take photographs of your pets in action, it is wise to choose a fast shutter speed, e.g. at least 1/1000th of a second, to freeze the action. Furthermore, use burst mode and continuous focusing.
How to get a desired reaction
Elke urges you to think about what makes your pet special and how you can capture their essence.
You have to be patient, take time to find out what motivates your pet and how your they react to different stimuli. These tips are handy for dogs:
To get a cute head-tilt, try making low-volume noises. Making different noises will result in surprising and interesting looks from your dogs.
Use peanut butter to make them lick their noses. Make sure that the peanut butter doesn’t contain xylitol, which is poisonous for dogs! You could also use marmite, or even better, pate – hmmm!
Dogs love to play, so if you have a toy in hand, you might get the dog’s attention.
Elke’s gear list:
Fujifilm X-T20 – this camera never leaves her side
Fujifilm X-T2 & Fujifilm X-Pro2 cameras – ideal for professional-looking photographs
Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4 R lens – perfect for those quirky wide-angle shots
Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R lens – a versatile portrait and reportage lens
Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R lens – the ideal lens for those action shots
Studio light setup
Umbrella for the main light
Strip lights for the rim light
Elke has many fond memories working with dogs, but would have to highlight farewell shoot sessions as some of her most treasured. Another fond (and proud) memory is when she managed to turn her very shy dog, Scout, into a confident dog.
In her blog, she explains exactly how they got little Scout to come out of her shell and grow into a confident model.
Let’s Pay it Forward
Elke says that had it not been for their three Spanish rescue dogs paying it forward, her husband’s life could have been in jeopardy. She pays it forward by offering her photographic services to animal rescue organisations, free of charge. Furthermore, she intends to do a rescue project every year.
Her previous projects include going to Spanish shelters, taking photographs of their dogs in an effort to raise awareness regarding adoption opportunities. She also made her way to Morocco where she documented the life of stray dogs, in the hopes of improving their situation.
Elke seriously has a heart of gold. May she inspire you to adopt a furry friend or to simply pick up your camera and photograph that special addition to your household.