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B&H Photography Podcast

The B&H Photography Podcast, a weekly conversation about all things photography. With insightful and entertaining guests, we discuss the issues most important to the contemporary photographer.

May 25, 2023

Humans and pets have shared a deep bond for centuries, yet our animal companions are now considered more a part of the family than ever. So, it’s no surprise that pet photography is a blossoming niche, and a perfect subject for this week’s podcast—especially since it’s National Pet Month!

Above photograph © Nancy Borowick

We start by chatting with pet photographer Karen Hoglund, who alerted us to her work in response to Allan’s musing about using the hashtag “kittens” to generate traffic on social media. After noting that #kittens only yields a 20 percent bump over #photographer, Hoglund offers advice on the dos and don’ts of posing pets, and picking up on their non-verbal signs of anxiety or stress.

After a break, we switch gears from posed pet portraits to learn about Sony Artisan Nancy Borowick’s candid editorial-style coverage of the Westminster Dog Show, and her long-term project, “Part of the Pack.” Primarily known for telling intimate stories about people, Nancy explains how an invitation to photograph the dog show helped her process the loss of both her parents to cancer. She talks about the challenges of covering the show’s frenetic atmosphere, describing how she maintains focus by seeking out telling details. 

As we all agree, pets are truly a gift in our daily lives, and learning how to capture their unique personalities in pictures can only deepen this bond and enrich our experience.

Guests: Karen Hoglund & Nancy Borowick

For more information on our guests and the gear they use, see:

Top shot © Nancy Borowick

Episode Timeline:

 2:06: Does #Kittens or pictures of cute pets help to drive traffic on social media? 

4:28: How to recognize signs of stress and anxiety in pets, and tips for posing pets during a photo session.

7:48: Giving treats to a pet so they’ll behave during a photo shoot and behavior differences to keep in mind when photographing dogs or cats.

16:06: Tips for photographing groups of pets and people, plus advice for photographing darker-colored pets.

21:32: Hoglund’s pet photography gear bag and her thoughts on using mirrorless cameras and lenses.

25:57: Episode Break

27:04: Nancy Borowick’s love of the Westminster Dog show and the challenges of working in such a fast-paced, frenetic environment.

36:11: Difficult breeds to photograph, the benefits of real-time eye autofocus for animals in Sony lenses, and Borowick’s favorite dog breed.

39:25: Borowick’s love for close-up details as storytelling tools, and her favorite lens: a Sony G series 85mm f/1.4.

42:30: Evolution from photographing at the dog show to Borowick’s long-term project “Part of the Pack,” and the differences between dogs and owners at a top competition setting and in a home environment

54:30: Final thoughts from Borowick and Hoglund about owning pets today.

Guest Bios:

Karen Hoglund started out as a graphic designer, art-directing photo shoots for ad agencies and commercial clients. After honing her camera skills by photographing children and families, she shifted focus to her true love—dogs and cats. After starting a pet photography business in 2012, she hasn’t looked back, working from her home base in Denver, Colorado with a squeaky toy in one hand, a camera in the other, and fur all over her clothes.

Nancy Borowick is an internationally renowned photographer, author, teacher, and speaker. A graduate of the International Center of Photography, she is a Sony Artisan of Imagery and a Kickstarter Thought Leader. Working regularly with the New York Times since 2013, Borowick has told intimate stories of people, places, and pets from every corner of the globe. Her break-out project about her two parents in parallel treatment for stage-four cancer has received major accolades and awards such as The Arnold Newman Prize and the Humanitarian Award from the organization Women That Soar. This project was published in 2018 as the monograph The Family Imprint. Borowick currently resides on the island of St. John, USVI with her husband, two sons, and her dog, Einstein.

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