German-based photographer Elke Vogelsang is known for her whimsical, intimate, and playful dog portraits. Her unforgettable work has reached a global audience, being featured in leading publications from HuffPost to National Geographic. The self-taught photographer is a dog lover through and through, and it shows in the way she captures the unique personalities of each pup she photographs.
To get a better idea of how Elke captures such hilariously expressive shots, take a look at what she keeps in her gear bag.
Tell us how you go about deciding which gear is essential to your work.
As I shoot animals, I love to use equipment that is versatile and not too obtrusive. It needs to be convenient and easy to handle. I often work with only one hand on my camera, as I’ve got treats or a ball or a squeaker in my other hand. Therefore, the controls should be easily reachable and parameters set quickly. The equipment should be lightweight and compact. A fast autofocus is a great plus as I often shoot fast dogs in action.
26.1MP Sensor, UHD 4K60 Video, Extended ISO 80-51200
Fujifilm X-T3. I’m a Fujifilm X photographer and have shot entirely with Fujifilm X cameras for a few years now. The handling and compact design of the X series was a major factor in my decision to switch to a mirrorless system. The X-T2 already is a wonderful camera and offers superb picture quality, but the new Fujifilm X-T3 offers a very fast autofocus, which is a major benefit for pet photography.
Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/22, 76-213mm (35mm Equivalent), Weather-Sealed Construction
When I shoot client’s dogs, I like to be as versatile as possible. My outdoor portrait and action lens is the Fujinon 50-140mm. I use it for most of my outdoor shots with client’s or model dogs. When I shoot my own dogs, I prefer to have a lens that is more lightweight, as I’ve got a camera with me all the time when walking the dogs or being in the garden with them. My absolute favorite portrait prime is the Fujinon 90mm f/2.
For my studio work, I use the Fujinon 16-55mm entirely as it allows for funny and quirky wide-angle shots, but also a natural and elegant portrayal of the dog when used in the tele range.
If I was told that I could keep only two lenses, I would choose the Fujinon 90mm f/2, as it offers a wonderful bokeh for portraits and is also fast for action shots, and the Fujinon 16mm f/1.4, as it offers a very large aperture and is pin sharp.
Jinbei HD610 HSS
600Ws, GN80, 9 steps of power adjustment, 14.8V/6000mAh large capacity lithium battery pack
I shoot with a Jinbei HD610 HSS. With this flash you can shoot with high shutter speeds indoors and, as it’s mobile, outdoors, too. For shots with action of any kind (e.g. snapshots, shaking, jumps, runs), it’s the perfect flash to freeze action with compact and handy equipment.
I’ve got a Vanguard Quovio 49. It has accompanied me to sessions for a few years now and is as good as new even though it has to endure quite a lot – dogs jumping on it, being covered in sand and dust and so on. It’s a trolley so you don’t have to carry it.
When it comes to photo editing, I don’t want to be without my Wacom Intuous Pro anymore. I don’t know how I ever managed to do without a graphic tablet!
Next to my gear, there are actually a few important things that have nothing to do with photographic gear – treats, a ball or toy, and lots of patience. I also keep a collection of noise-makers, like squeakers and whistles, to try to attract the dog’s attention.
Brooke is a writer and award-winning photographer specializing in cat portraits. She is an advocate for rescue animals and is best known for dressing up her cats as famous people like Bob Ross and Evel Knievel. Her biggest claim to fame, however, is being child #2 in an orange juice ad that hung in a mall in Miami at age 8.