Although I’m a dog photographer, 90% of my job involves simply listening to people. What about the dogs, you might ask. Aren’t you supposed to be paying attention to the cute dogs? How could you even think about anything else when you’re surrounded by dogs all day?
That makes sense, of course. I am surrounded by dogs all day. And I love it. I love all the dogs I work with, honestly. I love getting to know them and figuring out who they are and what they are about, so that I can photograph them in the truest light. But before I even start the process of bonding with a dog, my first concern is bonding with my clients (the humans). Because once I build trust between my client and I, access to that dog becomes opened and I get to dive in to what their unique dog/human relationship is about.
So I spend a lot of time listening to my clients talk about their favorite subject- their dogs. If you’re reading this, and if you follow my work at all, it’s probably safe to say that you’re a dog lover of some sort. Maybe you’ve had dogs all your life, maybe you’re an animal advocate, a past client of mine, or simply someone who loves looking at dog photos. All are completely valid reasons to end up on this blog. And, I’m sure that one thing that unites all those worlds is that every one of us loves talking about our dogs. To be honest- myself and all my friends and clients could literally talk about our dogs for hours. Probably all day. And we probably already do it so much that we’ve annoyed our neighbors, our cousins, our friends that aren’t as dog-obsessed as we are. It’s almost like we can’t help it.
But why is that? What is it about talking about our dogs brings us so much joy? It’s something that I’ve been fascinated with for many, many years. It’s actually what sparked my interest in photographing dogs in the first place. I kept hearing people talk so fanatically about their dogs, how much they loved them, what joy their dogs brought to their lives, how their eyes lit up every time their dog’s name came up in conversation. Clearly, there was something profound about speaking to other’s about our dogs, and it’s something I get to continue studying through my work with private clients.
Because I work so closely with my clients, I get to play therapist in a way to each and every one of them. I believe that talking about our dogs — just like talking about anything we love— increases the serotonin in our brains because it triggers a memory of a positive feeling. Dogs generally symbolize love, affection, and understanding for most people, so when they talk about this wonderful being with me, and recount heart-warming stories about the day they adopted their dog, or their special early morning walks, they are hearing themselves say out loud that they are loved. They, the human. And they, the dog. Both sides are loved, and loving. And that’s why talking about our dogs makes us so happy. If we could all just do it all day it would put us in much better moods. Thankfully, I get to. Which is why being a dog photographer is a pretty amazing job.