Hello Elke, its great having you at The Gallery Magazine. Tell us about yourself.
Hi, my name is Elke Vogelsang, I’m a self-taught photographer living and working in Germany. I specialize in people and pet photography. Dogs are one of my absolute favorite subjects.
How has your journey as a photographer till now been?
After a very stressful time when my husband fell seriously ill in 2009, I needed something like a creative outlet. So, during these weeks of uncertainty, in order to try to retain normality as far as possible I decided to proceed with an intended “a picture a day” project. Therefore, and to produce something like a photographic diary for my husband while he was in a coma and in hospital, I took at least one picture a day.
Fortunately, my husband recovered fully. My obsession with photography stuck. More and more people asked if I could photograph them or their loved ones as well. So I finally took the plunge and turned my hobby into a profession in 2011.
As my dogs are my favorite subjects, I post lots of their pictures online. These pictures are now quite known world-wide. To date, my images have been featured in dozens of print and online publications around the world as well as on television, including Good Morning America, Digital SLR Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Huffington Post, La Repubblica, Stuttgarter Zeitung, Practical Photography, Photography Monthly, Psychologie Magazine, and many, many more. I still can’t believe that this is all true. I was really lucky, but also put a lot of work, passion and love into my “job”, which I hardly dare to label “work”.
So far my pictures were exhibited in France, Portugal, the USA and Singapore.
I got a book contract with a publisher in London and my first coffee table book with my pictures will be published next year.
Normally, people like to take random pictures of their pets just for memories, but your work is truly excellent and way beyond just random clicks. What inspired you to pick up this kind of photography style/genre?
Thank you very much. When our first dog, Noodles, joined our family, I felt the need to improve my photography in order to produce pictures which do justice to her beauty and character. We now have three dogs and they are my joy and recreation. I love spending time with them. So, my dream job consists of my two favourite hobbies, that’s dogs and photography. I never tire of trying to capture their elegance and also funny sides.
Dogs or any other pets can be very difficult to co-operate with when it comes to clicking their photos. How do you manage to get exactly what you want?
It’s good to have three dogs to choose from. What one dog won’t do, one of the others loves to do. It’s one of the most interesting parts of my job to try to find something new for every animal I meet. All dogs or pets are different. They all have different personalities and characters. It’s a challenge to find what motivates that special model I currently photograph. You should have a good knowledge of the species you are trying to take pictures of. If you don’t know anything about dogs or horses, you will have a hard time trying to come up with pictures which do them justice. I also think that you have to love what you photograph.
With my dogs it’s easier, as I know them quite well. When I have a special picture in mind, I already know which of them would be most suitable for it. They are used to posing for my camera and are really keen on it. They know they always get a reward. The most difficult part is to keep the other two out of the picture, because all of them want to be the star.
With client dogs I have to find out what motivates them or what special tricks or poses they might be able to offer. It’s lot of fun and very interesting. It’s a reward to see the owners being really amazed about how great their pet finally did during the session.
What does your camera kit consist of?
I’m a huge Fujifilm fan. I love the X series. When I’m out and about with my dogs I always have a Fujifilm X-M1 and some Fujinon prime lenses with me. I plan to switch to Fujifilm completely in the long-term, as I really love the small size and weight of these cameras. My Fujifilm X20, which is actually a quite simple compact camera compared to my business equipment, sparked my creativity in a way I had never expected.
For my business pictures I still use a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and some lenses, like the Canon EF 70-200mm IS USM 2.8 and some prime lenses, like the Canon EF 50mm 1.4.
My studio flashes are of the Elinchrome D-Lite 4 set.
Are these amazing photos of your pets up for sale and if so, where can the readers grab them?
Yes, I sell my pictures as prints. If you are looking for one of my pictures as a print, just drop me a line via info[at]wieselblitz.de. Here you’ll find some more information about prints and postcards:
Amateur photographers would be curious about what lighting techniques you use to get such detailed exposure. Can You please shed some light on the same?
I love to keep it simple. As I said I use one or two flashes of an Elinchrome D-Lite 4 set. In the studio I usually just light from straight ahead with an angle form above down.
As we can see dogs are your favorite models, are there any other lovely creatures that you wish to click?
Though my dog pictures are widely known, I actually take more pictures of human beings. I really love to take pictures of children. Some parents think it’s not possible to take natural shots of their children. I love to just let children do whatever they love to do and catch the action as it unfolds. That’s one of my absolute favorite activities.
Share with us some funny incident that you experienced while clicking them.
There are so many. A very important criterion for my work is that I want my models and the owners of the pets to have fun and enjoy the session. I try to work in a relaxed and fun atmosphere, which is quite easy as dogs themselves are usually lots of fun.I once took pictures of a dog which jumped into the mud in the middle of the session and was covered all over in mud, running around like a maniac. Thankfully, the owners also thought it was funny. We got lots of pictures of a very happy but very muddy dog.
During my last session the dog didn’t want to let go of the ball. He just ran around, taking the mickey out of their owners.
Elke Vogelsang Gallery