For some photographers, taking pictures is more than just a fun hobby or interesting job. It has become a way of connecting with others, creating friendships and bonding with family.
For Marijke Mooy, photography has always been connected to relationships. Her passion for photography was inspired by her father, who picked up the hobby when she was 12. He joined the local photography club, bought darkroom equipment, and turned their living room into a makeshift darkroom.
There, like magic, Marijke would make images appear before her eyes. From that point onward, she loved photography. She was given an old Pentax camera so that she, too, could develop her own photos every now and then.
Since then, she’s developed a wide portfolio of travel, landscape and wildlife photos. Her main subject, though, is dogs.
Like her passion for photography, Marijke started photographing dogs because of a relationship. Only, rather than a person, her source of inspiration was her first dog, June.
June could pose beautifully and had sweet expressions that everyone loved. And, perhaps most importantly, she was a very patient model.
Her portraits of June caught the attention of other dog owners, who asked her to photograph their dogs, too. Photographing other dogs was more challenging, mainly because the portraits needed to meet the owner’s expectations. They wanted to see their dog in a certain way, which wasn’t always easy.
Still, with enough patience, she was successful.
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Now, she’s photographed all kinds of dogs, old and young. She’s most proud of her portraits of puppies, since they’re so difficult to photograph. They rarely sit still or obey commands. They have beautiful expressions, but they’re always moving. Each look is fleeting.
“With sweat on my forehead, I’ve often felt that the photoshoot will result in nothing,” she says about photographing puppies. “You don’t have much time. The longer it takes, the more impatient the dogs get.”
She’s especially proud when the portraits turn out great after such a difficult shoot. For example, she got nice snapshots of Flivo, a lively Jack Russel Terrier, when he was just two months old. Those portraits turned out so well that she was able to photograph him again when he was four months old.
Four months old puppy Flivo
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According to Marijke, there are no clear methods or tricks to getting great dog portraits. However, she does have a few pieces of advice for beginners.
First of all, you need good lighting. Otherwise, the shadows from the dogs’ ears can be very distracting. Try to minimize these shadows as much as you can.
Secondly, try to win the dog’s trust. If you’ve won their trust, they’ll give you the most beautiful looks and poses. On the flip side, the photoshoot will be difficult if the dogs are anxious and only trust their owner.
Finally, you need to be both patient and efficient. Along with winning the dog’s trust, patience is the key to good results, as long as you’re not wasting any time. If you take too much time, you’ll lose the dog’s attention, Marijke says. (And perhaps your own concentration as well.)
Molly on display…
The owner and the dog 2
The owner and the dog 3
The owner and the dog 4