20 award-winning photos of dogs from 2019's Dog Photographer of the Year competition
- Every year, the Kennel Club honours dog photographers from all around the world with the Dog Photographer of the Year contest.
- Photos are separated into 10 categories, from "Man's Best Friend" to "I Love Dogs Because..."
- This year's winner, "Dreaming Merlin" came from the Oldies category.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
As the Kennel Club says, "Dogs are more popular than ever. In the hearts and minds of people everywhere, dogs are true companions and make a real difference to our lives."
That's why every year, they decide to honour dogs - and the people who bring us beautiful photos of them - by holding the Dog Photographer of the Year contest. The 2019 winners were selected earlier this year and show man's best friend in all their loving, inquisitive, and adorable glory.
Keep scrolling to learn more about these 20 photos, their canine subjects, and the hard-working photographers behind each shot.
This year's overall winner and first-place winner of the Oldies category was "Dreaming Merlin," taken by Denise Czichocki of Switzerland.
This is Merlin, a 14-year-old rescued Podengo. "I was lucky to find this beautiful magnolia tree near my home in Switzerland. And still more lucky to get the chance to take photos of wonderful dogs in these magnolia," Czichocki told the Kennel Club.
"Merlin was one of them. It wasn't easy to take photos of him because of his absolutely deafness. ... He gave me so many beautiful moments as you can see in this picture. This is Merlin, beautiful, dreamy and kind of wise. A wonderful old dog with so much charisma."
The runner-up in the Oldies category was "Young At Heart," taken by UK photographer Cat Race.
This sweet face belongs to a Labrador retriever, Bailee.
"This grey-faced gal had absolutely no concept of her ripening age. Right to the very end of her photo session at Beacon Fell, Bailee leapt and scrambled over logs smiling down at me hopefully for a snack," said Race.
"Although she had slowed down a little more with each grey hair appearing on her soft face, Bailee was as raring for adventure as she had ever been. I created this portrait in a bright wide angle format to accentuate the pup-like spirit that shone from her. I tucked myself in close as she gleefully watched my lens, capturing every grin - and drop of drool - that she had to give."
"Soul Comforter" won the Assistance Dogs Charity category.
The Assistance Dogs category comes with a bonus prize - a £500 (R9,000) donation to the charity of the photographer's choice. Photographer Angelika Elendt chose to support the German organisation, Die Seelentröster - Tiere helfen Menschen, which translates to The Soul Comforters - Animals Help People.
She captured this photo while the organisation worked with some dogs, like Lilly, pictured, at a retirement home.
"Whenever I looked at this old lady suffering on depression and dementia she was completely apathetic and seemed to be captured in her own world," Elendt explained. "Towards the end of the visit, Lilly was put on her lap and suddenly the lady woke up from her lethargy: She started stroking the little dog and bent her head down to it.
"Lilly managed to get through to this old lady, who was beforehand always experienced as lethargic and utterly disinterested in social interactions. This once again shows the very special connection between dogs and human beings."
The second-place photo, "Laying Down on the Job," was taken by American photographer Tracy Allard.
Allard's not just a professional photographer, she's "also a dog trainer and had the pleasure of meeting Bosco and working with his handler to help them earn certification with Therapy Dogs International," she said.
"When they invited me to watch him in action (or lack thereof, he was truly born for this job), I jumped at the chance. ... Bosco lowers the stress level of any room he's in, but he's especially magical with children, enabling their tensions to melt away."
This joyous photo won the Dogs at Play category. It was taken by Monica van der Maden of the Netherlands, and it is fittingly called "Dirty Dog."
"This particular picture is one in my series [called] 'Dirty Dogs.' I wanted to make something different instead of beautiful and clean dog portraits," said Maden. "I searched for a dog that loved to play in the mud. ... I also wanted to make people smile when they see this picture."
The runner-up was "Let's jump rope together!" taken by Hungarian photographer Zoltan Kecskes.
"The girl you can see in the picture is Kathleen and her dog is called Rebel. She is actually a trainer. She teaches tricks to dogs. ... I saw her videos of doing these awesome tricks with her dogs and I just knew that I had to photograph them," said Kecskes.
"I was particularly interested in the skip-roping trick. I think the most challenging part was to find the right focal length and angle to capture them in a way that really showed how awesome was what they were doing."
Dorine Scherpel of Canada snapped this photo called "The Loyal Co-Workers," which took first place in the Dogs at Work category.
"I was walking on this narrow country lane in the Lake District one February day this year when Laddie (right) came happily barking towards me. As I have had dogs all my life and formed some extraordinary bonds with [dogs], I of course welcome any dog that wants to say hello," said Scherpel.
"To me this image portrays all you expect of a country dog's life on a working farm. Their eagerness, their innocence and the way they so happily go wherever they may be needed makes them men's best co-workers."
Sherpel, who is not a professional photographer, took this image "solely ... to bring joy to my friends."
The second-place winner of Dogs at Work was taken by Katie Behan of the UK, called "Among Hills and Heather."
This beauty is an English springer spaniel called Belle.
"Always alert, Belle takes advantage of exploring the fells of Buttermere in the Lake District while I take advantage of capturing her in the beautiful heather. This is one of the brief moments she paused. It was such a pleasure to watch her in her element, doing what comes naturally," said Behan of the photo.
One of the categories is for photographers aged 12 to 17, and their theme was "I Love Dogs Because…" This year's winner was taken by 12-year-old Mariah Mobley of the US with her photo, "Doggy Bed Time."
This is one of Mobley's three dogs, Koby.
"Taking photos of Koby is extra fun because he is my mom's trick dog, so he knows lots, and lots of cool tricks, and loves to pose for the camera. He is really fun to play with too, we even do handstands together. He is a very sweet little love bug, who I love very much," said Mobley.
The second-place photo, "Peace and Quiet," was taken by 17-year-old Hungarian Luca Gombos.
"This particular photo was taken during our first holiday we took as a whole family. My two dogs, my parents and I spent a few days together away from home. One day, on a sweltering morning we were having a short nap, when I noticed that both of my dogs put their heads down on the sheets. There was something special in this moment maybe because I have not had this kind of experience with them before. Accordingly, I knew immediately I would not miss capturing it and make it everlasting," said Gombos of her pup, Lia.
This photo, called "Connected," earned top honours in the Man’s Best Friend category.
This photo of Inka, a Munsterlander, was also taken by Cat Race, a British photographer.
"We had just wrapped up a warm June evening session with Annie-May and her Munsterlander Inka. As the two of them sat in front of the reservoir enjoying the summer air, I could see a real moment unfolding between them. So I unhooked my camera from my Spider-Holster and released the shutter, forever preserving that heart-warming connection," said Race.
"As they sat on the bank with sparkling bright light reflecting off the water behind them, I knew there was something so universal about the unspoken bond between a little girl and her dog."
This image of this lovable giant took second-place honours. The photo was taken by Alexandra Novitskaya of Russia, who calls this "White Cheesecake."
Novitskaya was used to only taking photos of animals - but she captured something special when she included this dog's owner, too.
"This photo was taken after an advertising photoshoot," she said. "Cheesecake was quite nervous in unusual surroundings of flash lamps and photo equipment. But it only took a jump into [the] arms of his beloved owner to feel peaceful and safe."
This breathtaking shot won the Portraits category. It's called "Honey saluki" and was taken by Russian photographer Anastasia Vetkovskaya.
"I love working with sighthounds! They are beautiful dogs but it's not always easy to find an approach to them. Toys and treats - usual props of any animal photographer - are rather useless with these creatures. Each time I should come up with a new idea to make it work with particular dog," said Vetkovskaya.
The runner-up, "Mirror," was taken by Ria Putzker of Austria.
It's not hard to see why this shot of Pumpkin the Catahoula leopard dog is called "Mirror." "This photo was taken after a rainy weekend in summer which left a lot of huge puddles on the ground. I took the opportunity to photograph my friend's beautiful dog in one of them. She had to stand still for about half a minute until the water was calm enough so you could see the reflection clearly," said Putzker. "It was truly a magical moment and it is still one of my all-time favorite photos."
The rule for the Puppies category stipulates that pups must be under 6 months old, like these dogs in "The Little Twins," taken by Monica van der Maden.
These little twins are named Macy and Vino.
"The breeder and I were in a shopping mall together where we had so much fun during this photo shoot. It can be very difficult to photograph two puppies together, let alone a whole litter of puppies especially in a shopping mall," said van der Maden.
"But when Jose (the breeder) placed the two pups together they started to wash each other."
The rest was award-winning photo history.
Carlos Aliperti's "Father and Son" was the second-place winner — but there is a heartbreaking story behind it.
Aliperti, who has five dogs, said this photo is particularly special to him.
"It is a moment of pure relationship between father, Toddy, and son, Ted, and that brings me a huge [sadness]," he said. "On October 22, 2018, Toddy passed away, [as a] victim of a great cruelty: poisoning. Since then, it is very difficult to overcome the loss and I consider this award a well-deserved tribute to my dear companion."
The Rescue Dogs Charity category winner also gets to donate £500 (R9,000) to a charity of their choice. This year, the winner was Anne Geier with her photo "Finntastic."
Geier donated her prize to Austrian dog rescue Streunerhoffnung, which roughly translates to "Stray Hope."
"This photo shows my own dog Finn," Geier said. "I took the photo during our holiday in the Dolomites last year. We rescued Finn from Rumania in 2014. Since that time he fills our life with so much love. I never met another dog who has the same patience and calmness. He is such a lovely dog ... and I always hope that all the people can feel his special power through my photos of him."
The second-place photo, "Curiosity," was taken by Tianhang Zhang of China.
"When I took pictures of [these three], they had just been abandoned by a kennel," said Zhang. "My friend temporarily adopted them and tried to find a new home for them. When I visited them for the first time, they stared at me curiously. Then I waved my camera, playing with them and snapping pictures. In front of people, they are like innocent children. It's hard to imagine the ferocity of their hunting. I miss the time when I interacted with them and I will never forget their lovely faces. Now these lucky guys all have their new homes and live with their people who really love them."
The final category, Young Pup Photographer, is reserved for photographers 11 years old and under. The first-place photo, "Sea Dog," was taken by 11-year-old Sabine Wolpert of the US.
Wolpert has had her dog Georgie for four years, but she started getting into photography when Georgie was 2, and she was 9.
"I took this picture on a beach near my home. Georgie had been running around. She brought a clump of seaweed to me and I put it on her head. I expected her to shake it off but she seemed to like it so I took her picture," said Wolpert.
Eilidh Shannon, 7, took second place with "Maisie's Music."
Euan, Shannon's brother, got a Judges Special Mention in the Young Pup category in 2018 so she thought she would submit a photo this time.
"I have 2 dogs called Maisie and Lexie. Maisie is the one that I took this picture of. I thought [it] was funny watching Maisie singing along to the clarinet. She sings every morning when Kirsten does her practice, but she doesn't like Euan's drums," said Shannon.
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