Andy Biggar with dog Bracken

Leading dog photographer Andy, from Andy Biggar Photography, took some time out of his busy shooting schedule to talk to us about why he loves working with dogs so much.

Q. What does the Power of Dogs mean to you?

Dogs are truly inspirational to me. The way they just get on with life and let nothing get in their way. I am lucky to be able to work with some of the most privileged dogs in the world, but equally, I also work with dogs that have been very badly let down by the human race.  Dogs that have faced conditions and treatment that they should never have had to and yet, all they want to do is give unconditional love.  That to me is something humans need to learn how to do and how this world would be such a different place to live in.

Q. How on earth do you get puppies to sit still for portraits?

Getting dogs to sit still can have its challenges but most dogs are either food or toy orientated, so I ask their owners to bring along favourite treats and toys which helps a lot. We can also photograph the dogs on a lead and remove this in photoshop later. The secret is to keep the sessions fun.

Q. How many shots do you generally take to get ‘the one’?

It does vary a lot depending on the dog but I will also take a lot of shots in the same position because a slight movement in the eyes, ears or nose can give a completely different look.  It’s so important to capture the character of the dog you are photographing and how their owner sees them on a daily basis.

Q. Can you give us three top tips for taking photos of dogs?

1. Get down low to the dog’s level; the camera should be at their eye level, so, in effect you are entering into their world. Taking a photo from above the dog will not have anywhere near the same amount of impact.

2. Make sure the area is safe to photograph the dog/s. I know it sounds simple but making sure there are no dangers nearby is so important.

3. Try and keep the background clear.  For example, make sure there are no unsightly objects such as rubbish bins that would be distracting in the image.

Q. Would you share a memorable dog moment with us?

This is a very tricky question as there have been so many but one that sticks in my mind was a family who had rescued a lovely older Boxer dog who had been very, very badly treated and abused. Their little girl – who was about six at the time – loved this dog; it was so clear to see and in return, he loved her and was always by her side. It was just incredible to witness. I photographed them sat on old Chesterfield chair we use and they both looked so proud together; the little girl on the arm of the chair and the dog sat in the middle of the chair looking very regal! All of us were in tears thinking about all this poor dog had been through and now here he was with his best new friend. A very beautiful moment indeed.

Q. What’s your favourite dog walk and why?

We are very, very lucky to live in the middle of an old wood. So, to walk the dogs, we literally step out of our gate and we’re off. It’s just beautiful; very peaceful and full of wildlife so our dogs love it. We very sadly lost two of our dogs last year and they also loved walking around the wood, so we have a lot of memories contained in there which are very special indeed.

Q. What dogs do you own?

We have two dogs now.  One is a 12 ½ year old year Labrador called Jet and the other is a three year-old Staffordshire bull terrier called Lola.  She’s a rescue and has had a really tough time but she’s OK now and doing really well.

Andy is speaking at our Power of Dogs event in Cheshire on 26 September. He will be giving a talk, ‘My Dog and Me – Magical Moments,’ find out more and book tickets. Meet the other speakers