Let’s all admit it: Dogs tend to be a huge part of our photo albums. I mean how many times do we scroll through our phone and realize almost all our pics are of our dogs?
While most of us are considered amateur dog photographers, there are definitely some pros out there – both young and old – who take amazing pictures of our four-legged friends. And we got the best right here.
The Kennel Club in the UK recently announced its winners for Dog Photographer of the Year. Some of the categories where people received top-dog honors included Man’s Best Friend, Puppies, Oldies and Assistance Dogs.
The organization received nearly10,000 entries from over 70 different countries.
The photographer who was chosen as the overall winner (and also took home the first-place prize in the Oldies category) was Monica van der Maden for her enchanting photo of Noa the Great Dane.
In terms of what made a winning photo, VIP judge Elke Vogelsang told This Dog’s Life, “It should be technically of high standard. Light, exposure, sharpness should be spot on, but most of all, also portray an emotional component,” she says. “Ideally the picture tells an interesting story.”
Check out the winners, along with learning more about the reasons why the photographer chose a particular photo to submit and what was occurring in the image.
This category was all about showing off senior dogs, defined as 8 years or older for this contest.
First Place: The lady of the mystery forest
Dog: Noa, a Great Dane
Photographer: Monica van der Maden, Netherlands
“This picture was made in the early morning in the forest. I wanted to photograph her in a position where she was sitting relaxed next to a tree. When I wanted to make the shot, she turned her head to the left to her owner and this was the moment where you could see her soul.
Dogs come in all different shapes, sizes and colours. But their hearts are all the same filled with love.”
— Monica van der Maden
Second Place: On a Rainy Day
Dog: Nilo, a mix rescue dog
Photographer: Rachele Z. Cecchini, Austria
“I took this photo on a rainy winter day. My best friend Nilo was a much-traumatized rescue dog, but he felt very comfortable in the car. I love to observe him, and I always feel very touched about his melancholic expression.”
— Rachele Z. Cecchini
Third Place: Resting
Dog: Bentley, German Shorthaired Pointer
Photographer: Philip Wright, United Kingdom
“This particular photo was taken during an afternoon walk through a local woodland. The ferns were looking wonderful and provided a perfect natural avenue to draw the viewers’ eye in to my subject. I asked Bentley to lay down, and he did so with the most beautiful, almost grave expression. They say that eyes are the windows to the soul and looking at Bentley here, I’d be inclined to agree.”
— Philip Wright
Puppies are always adorable, and these photos do not disappoint. For a dog to be considered a puppy, he or she had to be under six months old.
First Place: Little Ceylin
Photographer: Klaus Dyba, Germany
“Ceylin was the second dog of my friend Birguel. The photo means so much too me, since her first dog, also an Italian greyhound, died at puppy age in a car accident. At 13 weeks old, Cylin has the whole life in front of her. You can see it in her expression.”
— Klaus Dyba
Second Place: Sticking Together
Dogs: Beagle mix puppies
Photographer: Charlie Nunn, United States of America
“Since early last year, my partner Raymond Janis and I have had the honour of supporting the Vanderpump Dogs Foundation in Los Angeles by photographing their adoptable dogs. In July 2017, we met these adorable beagle mix puppies. As Raymond tried to wrangle them, something magical happened, and I was able to capture a perfect moment of a puppy family sticking together.”
Third Place: Let’s call it Roly Poly Puppy
Dog: Snickers, mixed breed puppy of Doodle Rock Rescue
Photographer: Robyn Pope, United States of America
“In this image, I knew the moment Snickers began rolling around on the blanket that I had to embody his zest for life in a photo that would help him find the perfect playful home. I truly love working with dogs of all backgrounds and to capture extraordinary photos worthy of even the most sophisticated pet parents and discerning commercial clientele. At home, we have six gentle giants of our own who serve as ambassadors on our seven-acre pet photography property and are the ultimate creative muses.”
— Robyn Pope
Assistance Dogs and Dog Charities
This category was to showcase dogs used to assist individuals with disabilities – including physical, mental and emotional – along with charities who work with assistant dogs.
First Place: Reassurance
Dog: Rocko, German Shepherd Dog
Photographer: Dean Mortimer, United Kingdom
“My thought process behind this picture is one that is close to my heart. My brother is ex-military as are some of my friends. I have seen first-hand some of the issues that war can have on even the strongest of men. The ex-soldier in the photo suffered great loss in Afghanistan and suffers from PTSD. That’s when Rocko came to his rescue. Rocko, the German Shepherd, has been trained by his handler to help combat the effects of PTSD, the skills of which help calm and reassure the soldier when times get hard. In my photograph I tried to capture not just how this dog aids this PTSD sufferer but also to capture the kind nature of the dog and how he enriches this man’s life. I have been following and admiring the work carried out by Service Dogs UK, the charity I am nominating for this category prize donation from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. I am amazed by how affective dogs can be in assisting an individual with their recovery. So, I decided to base my entry for this category on this issue and hope that in doing so will raise awareness of this worthy charity.”
— Dean Mortimer
Second Place: The Magic of Reading
Dog: Messi, Golden Retriever
Photographer: Maria Cristina Nadalin, Brazil
“This particular photo was taken during the very first time Messi was into a public library to help children acquire interest on reading. The lady in the picture is a writer and reader, and she, along with Instituto Cão Companheiro (Companion Dog Institute), developed this project that is the first one in Brazil.”
— Maria Cristina Nadalin
Third Place: A Veteran’s Best Friend
Dog: Delta, White Swiss Shepherd
Photographer: Craig Turner-Bullock, New Zealand
“I am an ambassador for the Kotuku Foundation for Assistance Animals Aotearoa, that source, train and place dogs with people who have any diagnosed condition that dogs are known to be capable of assisting with. This includes diabetes, head injuries, depression and PTSI and many more. Dion is a veteran who fought and was injured at the battle of Baghdad in 2012. He experienced PTSI and says that ever since Delta came into his life, she has made a huge difference. Dogs assisting veterans are now common around the world, but Delta is the first of her kind here in New Zealand.”
— Craig Turner-Bullock
Dogs at Play
There is nothing greater than seeing a dog having a blast. This category shows dogs playing and enjoying their life.
First Place: I’ll catch you
Dog: Lili, Pomeranian
Photographer: Elinor Roizman, Israel
“This particular photo was taken in the beach just before sunset. I shot four dogs on that day: Lili, and her 3 bigger brothers. Suddenly, Lili, the smallest bitch, began to jump with pleasure at the soap bubbles and play as if she were a puppy. It was a precious moment full of happiness and true freedom.”
— Elinor Roizman
Second Place: Flying Free
Dog: Heidi, Chihuahua
Photographer: Steffi Cousins, United Kingdom
“This particular photo was taken in September at West Wittering Beach where we were on a large dog meet up and my two dogs were having a blast. I had my back to Heidi as I was photographing dogs playing in the water. I turned to check on my two and just managed to grab this shot in time. I’m so glad I did, it’s my favourite photo of Heidi, and it shows off her crazy energy perfectly!”
— Steffi Cousins
Third Place: Snowy Shenanigans
Dogs: Daffy, Taz and Wile E., Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers
Photographer: Sarah Beeson, United States of America
“We had just moved from one of the snowiest cities (Erie, PA) to the middle of nowhere USA (yes, I love you dear Indiana). I didn’t expect much snow, but come on, it was nearly mid-February and not a flake! My boys were used to lots of snow having lived in Erie, but Daffy hadn’t a clue. And then it happened: old man winter arrived. Shame on him, while I was at work, no less! By the time 5 pm rolled around, I was in our backyard — Frisbee soaring and camera in hand. Meet Daffy, Taz, and Wile E. We LOVE frisbee!”
— Sarah Beeson
Man’s Best Friend
This category depicts the special bond we share with our four-legged friends.
First Place: Dolce far niente on a lovely afternoon
Photographer: Joana Matos, Portugal
“I love this photo for many reasons: it was taken at my favourite beach, with my favourite man, with my favourite dog… and in the background there is an umbrella that belonged to my eternal love Nupi, an adventurous cocker spaniel who shared his life with me for almost 19 years. Godji, the beautiful dog in the picture, is a natural poser and sometimes people call her ‘supermodel of the world’ and now she has become one!”
— Joana Matos
Second Place: Divine Connection
Dog: Kodi, Yellow Lab/Golden Retriever mix
Photographer: Sherilyn Vineyard, United States of America
“Meet Kodi, working therapy dog with Divine Canines. This is him with his person, Susan, during their training and certification class in late April, three years ago. He was a little nervous around the other dogs, but all it took was the reassuring touch of the person he loves, and he soared through the training to graduate and serve his community.”
— Sherilyn Vineyard
Third Place: Home
Dog: Ruby Roo, Golden Retriever
Photographer: Cheryl Murphy, United Kingdom
“This picture of Ruby was taken whilst she was resting with my friend Chris after playing with her daughter Nellie. My greatest passion is capturing dogs playing and having fun in their natural environment. The camera is a great way of recording what the naked eye would miss.”
— Cheryl Murphy
Dogs at Work
For this category, photographed snapped pics of working dogs, including herding, retrieving, pointing and more.
First Place: Wayne’s Team
Dogs: (Back row) Skye, a cocker spaniel.
(Front row) Jenny, a cocker spaniel; Pippin, a yellow retriever; Milly, black retriever; Bramble, a cocker spaniel; Ember, yellow retriever and Bonnie, cocker spaniel.
Photographer: Tracy Kidd, United Kingdom
“I was in photographer’s heaven whilst out on the shoot with Wayne’s Team of working dogs. It was a privilege to watch them, tails held high, nose to the ground and retrieving. All of them totally in tune with Wayne Green, hanging on every command and thoroughly enjoying their job. It’s days like this and the reality of life that I am looking to capture in my images. To document life, as it is, with passion. I always promised myself at the age of 40, I was going to follow my dream to become the best photographer I could be. Now at 48, through passion, hard work and determination, I have a photography business I am very proud of.”
— Tracy Kidd
Second Place: Springer in the Mist
Dog: Tarly, English Springer Spaniel
Photographer: Richard Lane, United Kingdom
“These are the sort of conditions I dream about for photography! This morning it all came together perfectly — great subject and fantastic dramatic natural light to work with.”
— Richard Lane
Third Place: I’ve got your back
Dog: Nyx, German Shepherd
Photographer: Ian Squire, United Kingdom
“For me, the title sums up the image perfectly from both sides. This is a young trainee police dog undergoing some initial training. Taken on a miserable, damp day, it shows elements of the bond, trust and relationship that is vital for the partnership between police dog and handler.”
— Ian Squire
The dog portrait category the canine is the main subject of the photo and can be photographed in a variety of settings.
First Place: Glenturret Autumn Gold
Dogs: Crew, Darcie and Pagan, Flat Coated Retrievers
Photographer: Carol Durrant, United Kingdom
“The photograph was taken on the last day of October 2016 in the UK, as we had the best autumn in years for its colours, but this day there was a mist in the background to make the photo magical. The photo was taken at Ash Rangers where the dogs walk daily. This photo is memorable due to Crew’s short life — cut short at 3 with IBD disease.”
— Carol Durrant
Second Place: Waiting Beauty
Dog: Thalia, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Photographer: Katarzyna Siminiak, Poland
“This photo was taken during session around Old Market Square in Poznań. I’m still amazed how Thalia was calm and focused despite the city noise.”
— Katarzyna Siminiak
Third Place: A Winters Storm
Dog: Hugo, Pomeranian
Photographer: Michael M Sweeney, United Kingdom
“I photographed my dog at the window here in my tenement flat in Glasgow using available natural light during a winter’s storm of hailstones, wind and rain.”
— Michael Sweeney
Rescue Dogs and Dog Charities
The newest category in the Kennel Club’s Dog Photographer of the Year competition, the rescue dogs and dog charities category is meant to show rescue dogs in a positive light and the impact they have on those around them.
First Place: Found My Way Home
Dog: Cooper, Labrador Retriever mix
Photographer: Sonya Kolb, United States of America
“It was very clear that Cooper was the first child for this beautiful and loving couple. In this shot, they are holding hands behind Cooper’s drowsing head. It was a scene of pure contentment and love.”
— Sonya Kolb
Second Place: Happy Girl Rescued
Dog: Magda, Vizsla and Labrador Retriever
Photographer: Leslie Plesser, United States of America
“This particular image is of my own rescue dog, Magda. She was a bit hesitant and shy when my husband and I came home with our baby, but when the baby went off to nursery school, she would curl up on his rocking chair and roll her fur all over, settling in for a nice nap.”
— Leslie Plesser
Third Place: Over the sea of fog
Dog: Dania, cross breed Portuguese Podengo
Photographer: Christina Roemmelt, Austria
“My name is Christina, and I was born in Munich. I moved to a small village next to Innsbruck in Austria together with my husband 11 years ago. After having settled down, we adopted two rescue dogs from Spain, thrown away like garbage and found in a dustbin. It wasn’t possible to literally touch Dania for the first six month. Now we spend all the time together. The dogs accompany us to work, and in our leisure time we explore nature together.
My wish was to fix the special mood of these moments — staying outside, enjoying nature together and acting as a team. For this reason, inspired by my husband, who is a landscape photographer, I got in touch with photography three years ago.
In the picture you can see one of these very special moments. We hiked on Keipen on Senja [Norway] last year and stood speechless on top, when the nature was bathed in golden light by the midnight sun. Everything was calm and peaceful. The dogs and us were completely on our own. This is one of my absolutely all-time favourite pictures from our trips.”
— Christina Roemmelt
Young Pup Photographer
The Kennel Club’s Dog Photographer of the Year contest wasn’t just for adults. The organization had two categories for younger photographers, with one being 11 years and under.
First Place: My Best Friend Roxy
Dog: Roxy, German Shepherd
Photographer: Mariah Mobley, United States of America, age 11
“My name is Mariah Mobley, and I am 11 years old. I have lived in Oregon, USA my whole life. I used to live on a farm with horses and dogs, but now live in town with my family and our three dogs, Hunter, Roxy and Koby. I have always loved animals, especially dogs. I started taking pictures when I was a very little girl and have loved it ever since.
I took this photo of Roxy, at about 9 pm, just before I went to bed. It was dark, and she was sitting on our back porch waiting for mom to give her a treat. I used a modelling light and the porch light to put light on her pretty face.
We adopted Roxy from a rescue when she was 7 months old. She had been in a shelter since she was 4 months old. She is 5 years old now and is the sweetest girl. As you can see in the photo, Roxy has an eye disease that causes redness and cloudiness. It is called pannus. Her eyes are not as clear as they used to be, but I think she is beautiful just as she is.”
— Mariah Mobley
Second Place: Dinner?
Dog: Dallas, Whippet
Photographer: Sienna Wemyss, United Kingdom, age 10
“My name is Sienna Wemyss, I’m 10 years old and from England, UK. When I grow up, I want to be a fashion photographer and designer. I have loved dogs since I first encountered one! There are so many different kinds of dogs, and they are all so unique. My dream came true in January this year when I became the proud owner of Dallas, a pedigree Whippet puppy. I was overjoyed!
I was relaxing on the sofa one day when Dallas crawled beside me. I put my arms out, expecting him to come and cuddle me. Instead, he gazed at the kitchen dreamily! If he could speak then, I bet he would have said, ‘Dinner?’ He looked very curious, so I grabbed my mum’s phone and captured the moment.”
— Sienna Wemyss
Third Place: Monty
Dog: Monty, German Shorthaired Pointer
Photographer: Maisie Mitford, United Kingdom, age 11
“I live in the North East of England with my mum, dad, sister Millie and two dogs, Monty and Chester. I have always loved animals, and I am constantly entertaining my dogs. I have my own lightweight camera, which I carry with me most places and am always photographing the dogs.
Mum had given me her camera (which is really heavy) and set me a challenge to photograph either Monty or Chester for this competition, Chester wasn’t interested, but Monty was willing and keen to please — lots of treats were involved!”
— Maisie Mitford
I Love Dogs Because…(ages 12 to 17)
For the older category for the younger generation, those between the ages of 12 and 17, the photographers were tasked with showing through pictures why they love their own dog, or dogs in general.
First Place: One heart, one family
Dogs: Dash, Royal, Harley, Ženka, Ryan and Ready, all border collies
Photographer: Tamara Kedves, Hungary, age 16
“I am Tamara Kedves, a 16-year-old student living in Hungary. I started photography three years ago when I realized how much joy I find in taking photos of nature and animals. Since then, I have photographed uncountable priceless moments, but my own dogs have stayed my biggest inspiration all along. For me, the purpose of photography is capturing a memory and making it last forever, as well as expressing my love for dogs through my pictures. My biggest goal is to make outdoor dog photography more popular with the creative use of lights and colours, while motivating other aspiring photographers.
This family photo was taken in a sunny spring afternoon as the last shot of the session. It perfectly expresses what dogs and photographing them means to me: not only the deepest harmony and happiness but spending time with whom and what I love the most: dogs”
— Tamara Kedves
Second Place: Simply a ball
Dog: Darcy, a crossbreed between a cocker spaniel and poodle
Photographer: Winner Elise Finney, United Kingdom
“I live in Kingston upon Hull with my parents and two dogs, and I am currently working through education to become an animal nutritionist, as well as competing in the dog sport agility with my dog Darcy. I received my first DSLR in December of 2016. Photography has quickly become a new passion of mine and a great way to bond and capture special moments with my canines.
This photo was taken during a walk on a lovely summer’s day after a game of fetch. Darcy often rests her head on her ball after she has finished playing and this was the first moment I had managed to capture her doing this on camera.”
— Elise Finney
Third Place: Hide and Seek
Dog: Fenrir, Border Collie
Photographer: Kirsten van Ravenhorst, Netherlands, age 18
“I am an 18-year-old girl from the Netherlands who loves agility, traveling and photography. The dog in the photo is Fenrir, my youngest dog. He is the perfect model, and the reason why I picked up the camera again.
The camera that I normally use is the Nikon D500, but it needed to be repaired, so I used my dad’s D5200 for this photo. This photo was taken in the forest near my house. I went there with my Border Collie Fenrir to test my dad’s new camera.”
— Kirsten van Ravenhorst