We’re Obsessed With Peter Thorpe’s Holiday Cards Starring His Rescue Dogs


Editor’s note: Have you seen the Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? This article appeared in our December-January issue. Subscribe to Dogster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.

Fans of UK photographer Peter Thorpe, known for his amazing dog holiday photos, will be jumping for joy over his new book that takes you behind the scenes for his magical shoots — no digital manipulation allowed.

“In the pre-digital age, photographic knowledge and a good eye were just part of this work,” explained Peter, who got his start in an advertising photographers studio. “Elaborate shots were often constructed over many days, creating background sets, props, and lighting rigs, so a good practical knowledge was also necessary.”

Raggle the model. (Photo by Peter Thorpe)

Peter set up his own studio in 1986. He found that images combining good photographic skills and humor were really well-received.

“Christmas was always a good opportunity to create and send homemade cards to clients,” he said. Enter Paddy, their somewhat cranky adopted terrier mix. “When I started to feature Paddy in the Christmas cards, those who had met him could not believe what a sweet and compliant model he was and, in pre-Photoshop days, there was no question that these could have been faked. These became very popular with clients, family, and friends, so before long an annual tradition of creating a new card image had begun.”

Paddy “starred” in 12 Christmas cards before he passed away in 2002. Peter’s family of five (his wife Julie and three sons) adopted another terrier mix, Raggle. “I started to photograph Raggle in the studio, and she soon became my new muse,” he said.

[brightcove videoID=5467455686001 playerID=HJNwsLuMW height=400 width=700]

Peter continues to create the cards in the traditional way — making his own sets and props rather than using Photoshop.

“Raggle has featured in Christmas cards each year from 2004 and is now quite elderly so ready to enjoy her well-deserved retirement,” he said. “It’s lovely for me to have all these images of Paddy and Raggle from 1990 to 2015 collected in my new book Bark! The Herald Angels Sing. Currently we don’t have an understudy waiting in the wings, so it’s likely I’ll soon be looking to other dog owners to search for a new star!”

Published by The Countryman Press, a division of W.W. Norton & Company. Available now. $16.95 US/$22.95 Canada

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