The Grimm and Jonah: Dog Photography by Katie McLellan

Katie McLellan is a dog lover and photographer from Port Orchard, Washington. She started taking photos just over a decade ago after she adopted a Belgian Malinois named Grimm. She wanted to capture her antics to show others, then ended up loving photography, too.

She loved photographing Grimm so much that she upgraded her camera to a DSLR, exchanging her small, Sony point-and-shoot for a Nikon D80 with a 50mm lens. Soon after that, she was invited to join a “52 Weeks for Dogs” group on Flickr. That group gave her a lot of support and encouragement. It was exactly the boost she needed to start experimenting and exploring more with photography.

“Being a part of the 52 Weeks for Dogs group on Flickr has been the best experience,” she says. “The group pushes me to take a picture every week, which I think has been key to making progress, especially in the beginning. Now I’m more driven to tell a story or express how I’m feeling, but in the beginning, I was just figuring out how to use my camera, and making sure I worked with it every week was a big part of that learning.”

“Also, the kind support of other members of the group was and continues to be a motivator. Even when I think a photo I’ve taken isn’t good enough, there is someone out there that finds meaning or purpose in it.”

The Grimm 42/52/2016 mid-west
Katie McLellan dog in field

The Grimm 28/52/2018 Dog Days of Summer
Katie McLellan happy dog

Jonah 5/52/2017 mirror, mirror
Katie McLellan collie symmetry

Besides Grimm, she also has a Smooth Collie named Jonah. The two have opposite personalities in some ways. For instance, Grimm has a strong prey-drive. She’s fast, alert, and attentive to Katie’s mood and movements.

Jonah, on the other hand, is “the gentlest soul I’ve ever met,” she says. “He prefers to nap, but will get up and nose in if he thinks that Grimm is getting too much attention.”

This difference in personality affects how Katie photographs each dog. With Grimm, she needs to move quickly and take fast shots. Grimm loves to play with her frisbee and ball, so a lot of photo shoots involve those or other toys.

Jonah, on the other hand, is pretty easy to photograph. “You can lure him into a pose with a treat, and he will just hang out there looking as though he is thinking deep thoughts… Though I suspect he’s just debating whether he wants the treat or a nap more.”

Jonah 19/52/2017
Katie McLellan two dogs

The Grimm 4/52/2018 Unofficial Toy Tester
Katie McLellan dog with ball

44/52/2017 Jonah – Welcome to the Pacific NW!
Katie McLellan umbrella mural

Some photographers would tire of photographing the same subjects for 10 years, but for Katie, there’s always more to learn. Even after a thousand photos, she’s still finding new challenges and fresh ways of photographing her dogs.

In the past couple years, she’s started to experiment more with photo manipulation, particularly composite photos. “I’m still trying to figure it out,” she says, “but I’m loving being able to treat photography like I would a drawing or painting.”

Every manipulated photo she creates takes a while to put together. They all start with an idea, inspired by something in her life. “Over the course of a week, there is usually some mood or thought that I keep coming back to. This past week, it was a sad feeling brought on by an event in a friend’s life and a poem that she wrote about it.”

“From there, I try to think of how to convey that mood in a photograph. How can Grimm, or sometimes Grimm and I, or Grimm and my friend’s kids, be characters in a photograph about this mood or topic? I just spend a lot of time thinking about a mood or topic and how I can express it, then I try to pull it off.”

“In all honesty, I feel very much like a beginner with Photoshop, and my results rarely come close to the picture in my head. That said, I think photography is an ongoing learning process, and I’m happy to be continuing to make progress and challenge myself.”

To see more of Katie’s photos and follow her progress, visit her Flickr photostream or Instagram profile.

The Grimm 46/52/2018 Aspen
Katie McLellan forest

Jonah 30/52/2017 I can see right through you
Katie McLellan dog photo manipulation

The Grimm 33/52/2018 Hanging on to summer
Katie McLellan levitation balloons

The Grimm 7/52/2018
Katie McLellan dog lavender

Jonah 35/52/2017 Thief
Katie McLellan cupcake dog

The Grimm
Katie McLellan Belgian Malinois

The Grimm 43/52/2016
Katie McLellan dog frisbee

The Grimm 35/52/2018 Back to School
Katie McLellan dog pulling leash

1/52/2017 – Is it 2018 yet?
Katie McLellan dog scarf

Jonah 22/52/2017 coming home
Katie McLellan rattlesnake ledge

Jonah 42/52/2017
Katie McLellan fort flagler

The Grimm 32/52/2018
Katie McLellan dog sprinkler

The Grimm 16/52/2018 Spring is here!
Katie McLellan dog on bench

The Grimm 37/52/2018 The beginning
Katie McLellan dog and woman

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