Trending: Why We Love to Photograph Dogs, Cats, Birds and Other Animals

By David Schonauer   Thursday October 15, 2020

Do you have a pet?

How many pictures of your dog, cat, bird, or whatever do you have on your phone? About a billion, you say?

We thought so.

People love to take pictures of their pets; part of the job of being a pet is to do things that we can’t resist immortalizing in photos and video. Often these things are comical, which is why there is the Mars Petcare Comedy Pet Photography Awards, which recently announced the finalists of its 2020 competition. The contest raises awareness of homeless pets in the UK and raises money for its charity partner, Blue Cross.

Now, with pets, there is alway a bit of rivalry between dogs and cats, so we broke down the contest’s finalist images to see which predominated in terms of laughs. Sorry, cat lovers, but dogs were the clear favorite. So there you go.

Frankly, 2020 is a time when we need pets more than ever. And photographer Grey Malin clearly understands this. Malin is best known for pastel-tinged overhead images of people on beaches. But his new book goes in another direction. Dogs at The Beverly Hills Hotel “imagines a dog-only world, where poodles lounge by the pool and Dalmatians match their hat-wear to their spots,” notes Town & Country. “Especially right now, you may be tempted to ponder what a world run by dogs could look like, and this collection should serve as the basis for your daydreams.”

Photographer Nancy Baron has also gone to the dogs. As we noted in 2016, Baron is a big fan of Palm Springs, California, the desert oasis that became to epicenter of the Mid-Century Modern design phenomenon, which she has documented in a number of books. Her latest is called Palm Springs Modern Dogs at Home. As Aline Smithson noted recently at Lenscratch, Baron’s book is a kind of tonic for 2020. “Her photographs allow us bask in the sun drenched glow of mid-century architecture, revealing perfect  canine companions in this desert community,” notes Smithson.

“Each expertly framed architectural composition is a portrait of place, with the dogs providing a particular humanity,” writes Smithson. “Psychologists feel that owning a dog increases feelings of relaxation, trust, and empathy while reducing stress and anxiety — that and a chilled martini makes for a very good life….and a very good book.”

Perhaps no photographer better understood the comic potential of dogs better than Elliott Erwitt. “I take a lot of pictures of dogs because I like dogs and because they don’t object to being photographed and they also don’t ask for prints,” Erwitt once said.If you’d like to photograph dogs like Erwitt, a new tutorial from About Photography might be able to help you.

The power of Erwitt’s dog photos is that they are really not about how silly dogs are. For him, dogs are simply the perfect example of humanity's inanity.

But what about birds? PetaPixel recently spotlighted Australian fine-art photographer Leila Jeffreys’s studio portraits of birds. “In addition to capturing the beautiful plumage across various species, Jeffreys also shows how birds can have expressions that are strangely humanlike,” notes PP.

“I’ve long noticed how many birds have specific expressions, just like us”, the photographer says.

You don’t have to have pet birds to photograph birds, of course. Go outside and there’s a very good chance you’ll run into one or two. PPD has noticed a definite uptick in interest when it comes to bird photography, perhaps because photographing birds is an easy way to get in touch with wildlife. But easy is a relative term. Photographing birds can be a challenge. Jan Wegener, an Australian photographer who focuses on birds, puts out worthwhile tutorials on the topic. Here’s his latest.

Now go outside and look for some birds!
At top: From the Mars Petcare Comedy Pet Photography Awards

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