Photographer Christian Vieler‘s latest project is titled Dogs Catching Treats. As you can guess, it’s all about capturing lip-licking hounds as they attempt to scarf down treats flying through the air. The images that Christian creates are striking, with various breeds showing off facial expressions that sometimes give off a vibe of unbridled joy and other times teeter on the edge of true despair.
Taking time out from snapping pups, Christian spoke to me about the origins of Dogs Catching Treats, getting up close with canine tongues and teeth in the name of art, and one particular pooch who was documented in a epic treat-catching fail.
Dogster: When did you chose to focus on photographing dogs?
Christian Vieler: I started photographing dogs in 2012, when my new camera arrived. I didn’t want to get on my friends’ nerves with my poor skills, so I started figuring the whole thing out with my dog Lotte as a model. She never complained about anything, and it took off from there.
So what inspired you to attempt a photo series based around dogs catching treats?
Well, my first funny snapshot happened as an accident. I used my dog Lotte as a model for a light and shutter speed setup; I threw a treat as a reward to her and shot the footage, and the first funny picture was born. She did an awesome job — as always.
What sort of reaction do you get when people check out the photos?
Honestly, I want to amaze people with some never-before-seen expressions from a dog’s face. It seems the frozen faces show pain, desire, happiness, or satisfaction — they are the sort of expressions we do not normally see in a dog’s face, especially not in such an intensive way.
What’s the hardest part about capturing the photos for the series?
I always try to get as close to the dog’s face as I can. That means a lot of hard work on the floor for me because I always shoot on eye level. I throw and shoot at the same time, so honestly I need good coordination and a lucky punch!
Have you noticed if any specific breeds of dogs are better or worse at catching treats?
No, that doesn’t really seem to matter. If the dog is able to catch the treats — and if he knows that’s what I want from him — then he grabs every treat. Well, that’s how it’s been so far.
So how many treats do you usually get through in a photo session?
50 to 70!
What’s the story behind this picture [above] of a dog failing to catch his treat?
Some dogs are not able to catch flying treats out of the air — and this guy is one of them! Nevertheless, I try my best to get some results in all cases, and I like to tell little stories by combining and showing two or three pictures in a row. Here I threw some treats, and I feel like the dog’s reaction is saying, “Hang on, why is this guy throwing treats at me? I did nothing wrong, this is going to hurt!”
You mentioned how you try and get very close to each dog’s face. Have you come across any dogs with really bad teeth or dental hygiene?
Yes, but I chose not to not show them. I did not Photoshop the dogs to the max, but I do clean their teeth a little bit if necessary.