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Inspiration

Photographer Adds Colorful Powder To Jumping Dogs To Create One-Of-A-Kind Artistic Portraits

By Sean Lewis on February 4th 2019

Combining her passion for animals and photography, Canadian photographer and dog trainer Jess Bell has captured a truly dynamic series of animal portraits.

While looking to create a unique series of portraits involving the dogs she loves and knows so well, Bell reached out to friends and fellow trainers and she began photographing their dogs. The range of dogs included a selection of Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, German Coolies, and others. Rather than simply ask the dogs to sit or lie down while staring at the camera, however, Bell incorporated motion and introduced colorful powder to accentuate the movement.

Bell captured all of the images in the colored powder series with a Nikon D5 and a Nikkor 300mm f/2.8. In an interview with UNILAD, Bell described the process for setting up and capturing the images, all while ensuring that the animals remained safe:

The images were created by placing coloured powder on dogs owned by some very talented dog training friends (and my own dog). We then asked the dogs to move and capture the resulting explosion. Each image is unique as it reflects each animals’ individual movement and structure. Don’t worry, the powder is non-toxic (FD&C/D&C approved), we shoot with plenty of ventilation and it’s kept away from airways so nothing is inhaled.

Animals keep us humble! They’re not always predictable, nor do they have long attention spans. I think photographing any subject comes with its own unique set of challenges; I’ve grown accustomed to the challenges animals present. I have plenty of patience, and know when to scrap an idea if it’s not working.

How did she know which colors would work best? As you can see in the images, Bell did a fantastic job choosing colors that either matched or contrasted with each dog’s unique hair color. This makes for a great example of color theory put to good use.

As you would expect of an animal lover, Bell holds each animal she photographs in high regard and seeks to convey the animal’s personality and characteristics in the images she captures. And while all of the images in the series hold a special place, Bell does have a favorite:

Each image has something about it that I love. I guess my favourite is the shot of Rush the Border Collie jumping through the red powder. Black, white and red is a killer colour combination, and I love how powerful his jump is.

Inspiration for the series can be traced back to Andrea Zachrau, who has produced work incorporating a similar concept, but with horses rather than dogs.

You can find more of Jess Bell’s photography here.

All photos are displayed with permission from the photographer. Do not copy or distribute without direct consent from the photographer.

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About

Sean fell into photography while teaching for a non-profit. What started as a minor task – documenting guest speakers and classroom activities – grew into a major obsession, and eventually led to a position shooting with Lin & Jirsa. Nowadays, at SLR Lounge, Sean’s work as a marketing associate merges his interest in the fields of photography and education.

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