Photos courtesy of Seth Casteel
We're fairly certain Seth Casteel, 33, has one of the most jealousy-inducing day jobs in the world. Hanging out in swimming pools and playing fetch with adorable pups all day? Yes, please!
OK, so maybe the job description should be a bit more involved than that. You see, Casteel is a professional underwater pet photographer, and he's done quite well for himself thanks to his talent, drive and the sheer viral value of his images! In his 2012 photo book "Underwater Dogs," the New York- and California-based animal lover uncovers the adorably hilarious facial expressions of exuberant pooches plunging into the water.
Check out some of these sensational photos, along with an interview of Casteel, who touches on what it's like to have such a downright awesome job. You can purchase a copy of the book online from Barnes and Noble and Indiebound.
And if you think these images are cute, then you'll be ecstatic to learn that a sequel — "Underwater Puppies" (that's right ... puppies!) — is scheduled to be released in September. Follow Casteel on Instagram and Facebook for more updates!
MNN: Tell us a little bit about your path to becoming a photographer.
Seth Casteel: Back in 2007, I was working in advertising at Sony Pictures Entertainment. Some friends of mine found a litter of homeless kittens on the studio lot and needed to find them homes, so I volunteered to take a few pictures of them in hopes to attract attention. We snuck the kittens into an executive's office during lunch and took a few snapshots of the kittens playing around on the furniture. The photos were sent out through the Sony network and 24 hours later they were all adopted. A few weeks later, we found another litter — more pictures, more adoptions! I was super excited about the impact one picture could make for a little kitten, so I began volunteering at local animal shelters photographing both dogs and cats. This volunteer work eventually led to a small-time gig as a lifestyle pet photographer.
What led you to focus specifically on pets?
Homeless kittens is the short answer, but the longer answer is that I've always loved animals. I grew up with a miniature dachshund named Duchess who definitely gets credit for inspiring my love for dogs.
How did the idea for "Underwater Dogs" materialize?
At a land photo shoot in Orange County, California, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Buster decided he would rather be in the pool, jumping in after his favorite tennis ball. Buster's human was not exactly thrilled at first because she envisioned some nice "dry" portraits of Buster, but I was convinced all of the splashing was more than just a wet dog. Buster was having so much fun — this was clearly his favorite thing to do! I left, bought a little point-and-shoot underwater camera, zipped back and jumped in. Knowing nothing about underwater photography, I took a few dozen shots of Buster diving in after his tennis ball, which were the very first images in my ongoing series of "Underwater Dogs." Buster's picture is now a giant tattoo on my left arm!
How do you set up and execute your underwater shots?
Meet the dog. Become pals. Play fetch on land, then move it into the water. I've created a series of fetch-based water games that I play with each dog. It's a combination of play, work and team work.
What equipment do you use?
I've worked with many different types of underwater cameras and housings, but I'm currently using a Canon camera, fisheye lens and an underwater housing by Ikelite Underwater Systems.
Do you have any tips, advice or recommendations for people interested in learning how to shoot underwater?
1. Try out different gear to see what works best for you.
2. Practice, practice, practice and learn as much as possible about taking pictures underwater.
3. Find your Buster — what inspires you?
Tell us a little bit about your One Picture Saves a Life campaign.
One Picture Saves a Life educates, empowers and inspires shelter staff and volunteers to improve the image of rescues and adoption through grooming and photography. The core idea is simple — one picture saves a life, literally! One single photograph can result in saving a pet's life. The goal is to create positive portraits of adoptable pets as a marketing tool to not only promote specific pets, but also to create awareness that the shelter is a positive place full of wonderful pets that just need a second chance. You don't have to be a professional or even know anything about photography. You just have to have a passion for animals and a dedication to help!
Are there any special animals in your own life?
There are many dogs that are near and dear to my heart, but my rescue dog, Nala, the doodle, is my very best friend. I don't have any underwater shots of her, but I definitely have thousands of pictures of her lounging on the couch or stretched out on the king-sized bed — her two most favorite activities.
What’s next for you?
"Underwater Puppies" is officially published on Sept. 16, followed by "Underwater Babies" next spring! Yes, human babies! I'm also working on a variety of super top-secret projects right now, which I'm very excited about!!!
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