Dog photography is a challenging facet of the creative field. Winning a canine's attention—and keeping it—can seem like it'd be impossible, but not for Elke Vogelsang. The Germany-based photographer has mastered the art of capturing compelling pictures of pups. She is adept at encouraging their expressive faces and photographs everything from their begging looks to puzzled head tilts to some serious side-eye. In all of her images, Vogelsang reminds us that every one of these animals is delightfully unique.
Vogelsang’s “photography obsession” started later in life after dealing with serious adversity. She turned to the subject after she and her husband took care of his mother with dementia. “Two years into this journey,” she recalls to My Modern Met, “I decided to look for a creative outlet to help me through this stressful time.” But just as she was planning a photo-a-day project, she found her husband unconscious in the bathtub. “The diagnosis was a severe brain hemorrhage due to a ruptured aneurysm.”
Despite the challenging period, Vogelsang decided to start the photography project. “I wanted to try to keep up a bit of normality and have something like a visual diary for my husband of that time while he was in an induced coma, and later on had no short-term memory at all for months,” she explains. “Often, my dogs found themselves in front of my camera which, alongside my photography, was a welcome distraction.”
Vogelsang’s husband made a full recovery, but they continued to care for sick and aging relatives. Through all of it, photography remained constant. “More and more people asked me if I could photograph their dog, too,” she says. “Finally, I decided to try to do more of what I love (spend my time with photography and animals) and registered a business as a photographer. That was in May 2011. Now I work full-time as a photographer specializing in animal portraiture.”
Many creatives have a muse, and Vogelsang is no different. In fact, she has a few. “My own three Spanish rescue mutts are my joy, recreation, and a constant source of laughter. They comforted me during those stressful months. I can’t put into words how much they mean to me, so I guess trying to express this in pictures is only natural,” she shares. “They are family members you love to have around and never get into trouble with, as they are unpretentious and forgiving.”
You’ll often see Vogelsang’s pups in front of the camera because they’ve learned to pose. But in her ever-growing portfolio, there is an array of breeds and cats, too. Scroll down for some of her latest shots and then follow Vogelsang on Instagram for more adorable animal photography.