Friday, 22 July 2011

How to ... shoot dogs.

I was recently asked how I captured an image of two dogs. So here is a brief outline.

To capture these two dogs was either a lucky chance encounter or a meticulous arrangement. Well, it was a bit of both …

Once the image had been formulated in my mind I set the properties team of the studio on their mission to locate three suitable pooches. I figured that celebratory pups would hit the cuteness target best. I also knew my mate Hugh Grant had a shaggy long-haired hound and his ex- squeeze Liz Hurley had a poodle. I envisaged three dogs so once Hugh and Liz had agreed, we only needed one more. My studio team, after sifting through dozens of pups, finally came up with a handsome bitch with a glossy black coat that we all thought would work well with the other two. Unfortunately, when we started the first test shots Hugh’s floppy-haired dog constantly tried to mount the mongrel and the poodle got the huff and trotted off. A disaster!

So it was back to the dog-pound and this time my team searched for only two male pups. Of course we had to have at least six for trials. I set my assistants the task of also building a window frame for the dogs to pose behind and do some test shots. It only took a day for the set to be built and the shots taken, but unfortunately I had to go to Nice for a celebratory lunch shoot with Mr Abramovich aboard his yacht. Such a bore as all I could think about was this pooch image.

When I returned, I checked the shots my assistants had taken the previous day. We proofed a few up to A2 size and viewed them as a team and they all thought they were wonderful, but I wasn’t convinced. When I pointed my concerns out, they all naturally agreed I was right. The window was wrong, the dogs didn’t look right, it was all wrong, wrong! The new set was re-built the next day as a door with windows this time. I was much happier, but I was late into the studio having been out until 4am with that tiresome girl Naomi Campbell. She will insist on having her portrait taken by me at any time of day, but usually it's in the early morning.

At last I was able to start shooting these dogs. I crouched in a lowdown viewpoint so as to get the dog’s perspective but this was uncomfortable. Fortunately my beautiful Chinese masseuse was able to rub my aching shoulders as I created. Without her I couldn’t have got this wonderful picture. In fact the shot only took an hour to capture using four different dogs, two lighting set ups and three cameras. The images were post-processed by the team as I took a well earned nap. Even the catering van wasn’t needed and I sent it away as I'd had a full meal earlier and the team wasn't hungry. After my nap in the isolation tank and rest in the humidor room, I approved the shot. So, I let the team break-set and dispose of the dogs as I had to shoot that same afternoon yet another Big Brother winner. 

As you can see from the above, it’s not all glamour and fun being a photographer, it's very, very hard work.  You can view the image here.


  1. Thanks for sharing, I had no idea it was such a hard job ! ;-)

  2. It's tough, but someone has to do it!