The Dog Portraitist

Capturing canines for a living can be tough work, but to Illona Haus, its all part of the job

Summer, retired/rescued racing greyhound

It’s about providing clients with memories of their beloved 4-legger, but also giving them artwork to put in their walls, not just ‘portraits’ of their pet.

Summer, retired/rescued racing greyhound

Client portfolios are made up of more than ‘portraits’ … ‘parts’ shots are important components of any scruffy dog shoot as well.

Riley and Stella, black and yelllow labs

Obedience helps with any shoot, but since I don’t go for staid portraits, often it’s about waiting for something else to capture the dogs’ attention, to draw their eye someplace else for a more natural appearance. In this case, another dog.

Bridie, Cairn terrier senior

Including the owners in the images in some form, even reluctant owners, is important to me for some of the images, as the connection and bond they have with their pet is the main reason behind what I do.

Oxford, young schnauzer/poodle mix

Working with small, quick dogs takes a lot of practice and heavy doses of patience … and knowing exactly where to throw the ball.

Morleigh, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Shooting low is essential with dog photography … even if it means getting a little wet.

Lolli, 12 week old yellow lab puppy

Puppies never stop. Shooting puppies is all about knowing your settings and working them on the fly.

Fritz, mini-dachshund

Sitting alone in The Badlands, Caledon, Ontario.

Cricket, young brittany spaniel

Both of us were hanging out of the client’s window, on the way back from our shoot, in order to capture this windblown smile.

Stella, yellow lab

I just love the splash under Stella’s foot.

Mackelin, 8 month old pug

High-energy adolescents often have the attention span of puppies but energy that won’t quit. Sometimes in order to get them to stay in one place, a stump, log or big stone helps

Barkley, poodle senior

A lot of my clients prefer not to be included in the photos, but I still try to sneak them in there, especially if they can be standing in the background. I love capturing their presence in the photo as they are such a force in their pet’s life.

Sox, Newfoundlander

When I met Sox and her gorgeous eyes, then spotted this orange wall on the owners’ property, I knew I had a winner. The owner now has large, framed canvases of each of her three Newfoundlanders in front of the orange wall like this, each one more expressive than the next.

Merrick, puppy-mill rescue (photographer’s dog)

He’s working at becoming the best and scruffiest model ever.

Summer, retired/rescued racing greyhound

Always determined to provide a range of backdrops to each client, I’ve used this red caboose a few times.

Matea, wirehaired pointer (photographer’s dog

My own rescue girl is the quintessential model.

Kahlua, hound cross

Shooting wide open really makes the eyes pop. I don’t generally like to shoot this shallow head-on, since that the out-of-focus nose becomes a potential distraction, but in this case, as dusk was falling on the beach, I needed the extra light.

Greta, mini-dachshund

Five-pound spit-fire. I love the models with attitude.

Oxford, young schnauzer/poodle mix

The clients had seen a previous client’s shoot where one of the dog’s tricks had been to balance on a fence post. Oxford, the muppet, was a quick study.

Olive, springer/cocker spaniel cross

I love shooting action, and capturing expressions that owners never actually see on their dogs faces as they fly across open fields, beaches or parks.

Sophie, Chinese Crested

For each shoot, I strive to find different backdrops, textures, colors, presenting clients with a wide range of images to select from.