By Dr. Becker
When dog photographer Elias Weiss Friedman sees a pet on the street he’d like to take pictures of, he politely asks the human at the other end of the leash, “May I take a photo of your dog?” A typical response is “Okay, but good luck trying to get his photo!”
When the owner gives him the nod, Friedman whips out a squeaky tennis ball, a few treats, and focuses the lens of his Nikon D750 camera. If necessary, he also starts making a “weird noise,” as he calls it. Within seconds, “The dog’s posing like a professional,” according to Friedman, aka The Dogist.
Jaclyn Skurie, writing for The Atlantic, says Friedman “Has an eye for capturing the distinct personalities of canines in his images, and documents them in an Instagram profile called @TheDogist.”1
The Dogist’s Instagram followers currently number over 2 million, and his page receives several hundred likes per minute.
‘Dogs Have Opened Up a Whole World for Me’
When he hits the streets of New York and elsewhere to take photos, Friedman wears kneepads under his pants so he can get down eye-to-eye with his furry subjects. The “weird noise” he makes is actually three different dog barks he’s able to imitate with “frightening accuracy,” according to Gabriella Paiella of the Guardian.
“We live in the golden age of Instagram pets, so you have to be special to make yourself a name — and Friedman is very good,” says Paiella.
“Aside from being a skilled photographer, his portraits zero in on why we consider dogs to be man’s best friend: he emphasizes the nobility and soulfulness of his subjects without diminishing their playfulness.” 2
Twenty-seven year-old Friedman is a graduate of Boston University. When he was laid off from his job as a brand strategist, he created and sold a small start-up company, and also developed a comedy web series called Barking at Dogs.
Next, he went to Europe for an extended vacation and happened to take a picture of a Boxer in Vienna. After returning to New York City, he got the inspiration to start a street photography blog for dogs, and The Dogist was born.
Friedman’s dad took photos as a hobby, so he grew up with a darkroom in the house and an interest in photography. His aunt happens to be a veterinarian who helped him learn to imitate the three barks he uses to grab the attention of his canine subjects.
“I don’t work with people in the same way most people do and I sometimes feel that sort of loneliness. I come home and I’m like talking to my rug,” says Friedman.
“But I do connect with people through their dogs. Even though I don’t have a dog, dogs have opened up a whole world for me that’s made me less lonely.”3
The Dogist’s 10 Tips to Photograph Your Dog
- Get down on the dog’s level
- Have something the dog wants
- Move that thing around the lens
- Have patience. Every dog is different
- Learn to bark and make strange noises to get different expressions
- Practice, practice, practice
- Establish trust between yourself and the dog
- Expect to get dirty
- Underexpose for dark dogs
- Reward a dog’s efforts with a treat
You can find Friedman’s delightful photographs on Instagram, Facebook and at his website The Dogist, where you can also order a copy of his 2017 calendar and his book “The Dogist: Photographic Encounters with 1000 Dogs.”