Spending the day rolling around on the ground with an adorable puppy sounds like a dream job, right?
For Carmen Gonzalez, it’s a dream come true. A photographer and award-winning former chef, she is the founder of NYC Pet Pawtographer.
Gonzalez’ love for dogs began with her first dog at age four. She began her visual career in New York City as a documentary photographer. Now, as the city’s most sought after puppy picture taker, she spends her days cajoling four-legged furry models into showing off their personalities.
She shares how it all began, “My business started because of my love for dogs. While shooting New Yorkers’ comings and goings, good moments and darker ones, I’d stop people walking dogs and ask if I could shoot the dogs, and then I would feature it on lnstagram. I always wanted to know the story of the dog – where did they come from, what do they like? That sort of thing. People love their dogs, and they love to tell you about them! And they always followed me on lnstagram to see their dog’s picture and pretty quickly people started asking if they could buy the image. It sort of became a business by itself.”
While her business relies on subjects that may only sit still long enough for a few quick snaps, Gonzalez has a fool-proof method for capturing the best of a family’s beloved pet and creating frame-worthy images that grace the walls of many Upper West Side apartments. She says her secret is time.
Gonzalez explains, “One of the things I do differently from other pet photographers is that my sessions are not based on time. It is my belief that I need to give the pups as long as they want in order to get these fabulous photos. Of course, I try and do as much as I can very quickly, but I’m aware of the attention span of dogs; after two photos they’re not doing this anymore – they see a butterfly and I lose them.”
She continues, “I warn people it might take two days. I don’t want to force dogs to sit and run on a timetable. That’s not fair to the parents. And being tight on time may mean I couldn’t get the action shots I’m known for. I had a dog the other day and we did stunning photos, but it took us three sessions to do it. I have no problems meeting with people three times.”
That patience, and a willingness to pull out her yoga mat and get down on the ground with the dogs, whether it’s the middle of the park or in front of The Met, is part of what enables Gonzalez to get that great shot.
Getting to know them makes a difference between a cute picture of a dog and one that captures everything there is to love about them. That’s her secret to getting those coveted action shots. She says, when you photograph a model or any person, you tell that person what to do – with a dog one of the things I do first thing is sit on the floor with the dog and play with them. Of course, beforehand I like to know as much as possible about the dog and what makes them happy. I want to know about their personality. But at the shoot itself I have to see how the dog is and what they want to do, and I have to tailor my plan so their happy. I do what they want basically, and they give me the best of them.
Gonzalez gave the best of herself last time she was visiting family in Puerto Rico. It was there she developed the concept of Pawlendar, a calendar featuring rescue dogs (known as satos), and partnered with United for a Cause Foundation to bring it to life. The sale of Pawlendar 2022 raised almost $20,000 for area animal shelters that had housed the calendar stars featured in each month’s spread. From the Yunque rainforest to the beaches of Vieques, the stray dogs of Puerto Rico had their moment in the sun, and hopefully a better chance at finding a forever home.
Paid advertisement written for Carmen Gonzalez by Francine Cohen.