Christian Vieler has been working as a full-time dog photographer since 2016. “Snapshots show our best friends as we rarely see them in everyday life. In their faces, we recognise panic, joy, fear of loss, sheer desire and the peak of pleasure. In a moment of revelation, the dogs reveal to us their human side, while distinctly remaining a dog at the same time. Therefore, for me, a snapshot is not just a funny picture—it is simply pure joy for the heart.”
At photokina 2018, four of his photographs are on dsiplay at our stand in Hall 3.1 printed on our Hahnemühle Photo Papers.
Christian Vieler signs his animal portraits as limited photokina edition on September, 27 2018, 11 o’clock and reveals a bit about his work as a professional dog photographer prior photokina in our interview.
How did you discover dog photography?
I discovered dog photography the same way many other amateur, and later professional, dog photographers do—as I was taking the dog for a walk. Sometime around 2010, the first SLR camera came into the house, which quickly became a constant companion during our walks. Especially on the weekends, when the excursions were longer and the landscapes prettier; I ended up shooting a whole bunch of photos. In 2012, I started a Facebook page called Fotos Frei Schnauze. At the beginning, I only posted the best results from the excursions. Steadily, however, I became more and more drawn to portrait and studio photography.
What is the biggest challenge when working with dogs?
My biggest challenge as a studio photographer is the closeness to the animal, because I like to work wide-angle and, no matter if dachshund or Rottweiler, there is nearly no distance between us. It often ends up being nearly nose-to-snout. This requires trust and successful communication with the model before the shoot begins. Additionally, I like to set very close-up lighting of the subject for my portraits. If the dog does not want to hold their position, the lighting set-up becomes a game of patience. In general, when working with dogs, you need the confidence of your models and a good sense for moments. So, in that sense, there is no difference to people photography. You cannot script a shoot with animals very well as the models are not always perfectly accessible for briefings. I can give my models the stage and make the framework as good as possible to meet my shooting goals … but ultimately, after everything is ready, I must follow the dog in their actions.
Do you print by yourself and what is your favourite paper?
I started to print by myself one year ago, and up until now I haven’t found ‘my’ paper yet. I try a lot of different papers, but I end up just sticking to the Hahnemühle FineArt Baryta. My customers and I like it very much because of the colour rendering and elegant effect.
Finally, a funny story—something to smile about
Unfortunately, I’m a magnet to flops, failures and fumbles. The most uncomfortable situation occurred to me when I was supposed to be a guest on Sat.1’s breakfast television show for the first time. I was completely nervous, because when it comes to a live broadcast—and this was the breakfast show—you can’t correct anything once you’ve messed it up.
I wanted to test the equipment before my performance, but I only had 3 minutes during a commercial break. So, I worked hurriedly with my guest supervisor in a studio corner, putting equipment together, connecting and setting up everything. Just a quick flash test and the drama had already unfolded. A frighteningly loud scream went through the studio. I had flashed my guest hostess directly in her face with my 1200Ws flash, without a protective cover or a flash diffuser. Her eyesight slowly returned and the colour rings in front of her eyes finally disappeared after 10 minutes. Nothing more happened, but I had had my first blunder already before the show started and climbed onto the couch for the first interview with a blush on my face. Later, during the show, my mobile phone in my back pocket was vibrating so loudly that I was kindly admonished by the host Matthias Killing in front of the camera. That was my second achievement on this day.
The Artist Signing with Christian Vieler at photokina will take place on Thursday, 27. September at the Hahnemühle booth A 25, hall