Purebreds, cross breeds, seniors, puppies, rescue dogs and even assistance dogs. Whatever label you give them, dogs have long been man's best friend. They hold a special place in our heart, and our phones are often filled with candid images of them. Some may even have professional photos of their four-legged friends taken. They are part of our family and a shining part in our daily lives.
The Kennel Club in the United Kingdom has a similar sentiment towards dogs and recognizes those photographers who go above and beyond to capture their dog's personality in intimate and sincere images. The Dog Photographer of the Year competition honored 30 photographers this year in 10 different categories.
This year's overall winner (and Oldies first-place winner) is Monica van der Maden from the Netherlands for her stoic photograph of Noa, a Great Dane, in the woods.
"This picture was made in the early morning in the forest. I wanted to photograph her in a position where she was sitting relaxed next to a tree. When I wanted to make the shot, she turned her head to the left to her owner and this was the moment where you could see her soul," said van der Maden in her submission. "Dogs come in all different shapes, sizes and colours. But their heart are all the same filled with love."
The other first-, second- and third-place winners can be seen below in their respective categories.
First Place, Assistance Dogs and Dog Charities
"My thought process behind this picture is one that is close to my heart. My brother is ex-military as are some of my friends. I have seen first-hand some of the issues that war can have on even the strongest of men. The ex-soldier in the photo suffered great loss in Afghanistan and suffers from PTSD so that’s when Rocko came to his rescue," said Dean Mortimer.
"Rocko the German Shepherd has been trained by his handler to help combat the effects of PTSD, the skills of which help calm and reassure the soldier when times get hard. In my photograph I tried to capture not just how this dog aids this PTSD sufferer but also to capture the kind nature of the dog and how he enriches this man’s life. I have been following and admiring the work carried out by Service Dogs UK, the charity I am nominating for this category prize donation from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. I am amazed by how affective dogs can be in assisting an individual with their recovery. So I decided to base my entry for this category on this issue and hope that in doing so will raise awareness of this worthy charity."
First Place, Dogs at Play
"This particular photo was taken in the beach just before sunset. I shot 4 dogs on that day, Lili, and her 3 bigger brothers. Suddenly, Lili, the smallest bitch, began to jump with pleasure at the soap bubbles and play as if she were a puppy. It was a precious moment full of happiness and true freedom," said Elinor Roizman.
First Place, Dogs at Work
"I was in photographer's heaven whilst out on the shoot with Wayne’s Team of working dogs. It was a privilege to watch them, tails held high, nose to the ground and retrieving. All of them totally in tune with Wayne Green, hanging on every command and thoroughly enjoying their job. Its days like this and the reality of life that I am looking to capture in my images," said Tracy Kidd. "To document life, as it is, with passion. I always promised myself at the age of forty I was going to follow my dream to and become the best photographer I could be. Now at forty eight, through passion, hard work and determination, I have a photography business I am very proud of."
Kidd also gives hilarious descriptions of each dog along with their names. "(Back row) Skye age 13. Lemon Working Cocker. Wayne’s soul mate. Loving, stubborn and wild when she was younger. (Front row) Jenny age 9. Liver Working Cocker. Daughter of Skye. Tough as old boots yet loves to be cuddled. The boss! Pippin age 1. Yellow Retriever. Extremely intelligent and is always a thousand miles an hour. Milly age 4. Black Retriever. Pippin’s Mother. Grease Lightening and on fire, especially on Grouse. Bramble age 6. Lemon/White Working Cocker. Hates to be told off. Always wants to please. Obsessed about checking scent. Loves a cuddle and very affectionate. Ember age 3. Yellow Retriever. So laid back. Very independent and works on her own. Always picks up. Extremely eager. Bonnie age 4. Yellow/White Working Cocker. Very loving however a little arrogant! Always has her nose to the ground but slow to retrieve. Always loves a cuddle."
First Place, I Love Dogs Because...
The "I Love Dogs Because..." category is for photographers aged 12 to 17. This year's first place winner is 16-year-old Tamara Kedves from Hungary.
"I started photography three years ago when I realized how much joy I find in taking photos of nature and animals. Since then I have photographed uncountable priceless moments, but my own dogs have stayed my biggest inspiration all along. For me, the purpose of photography is capturing a memory and make it last forever, as well as expressing my love for dogs through my pictures. My biggest goal is to make outdoor dog photography more popular with the creative use of lights and colors, while motivating other aspiring photographers," said Kedves. "This family photo was taken in a sunny spring afternoon as the last shot of the session. It perfectly expresses what dogs and photographing them means to me: not only the deepest harmony and happiness, but spending time with whom and what I love the most: dogs!"
First Place, Man's Best Friend
"I love this photo for many reasons: it was taken at my favourite beach, with my favourite man, with my favourite dog... and in the background there is an umbrella that belonged to my eternal love Nupi, an adventurous cocker spaniel who shared his life with me for almost 19 years," said Joana Matos. "Godji, the beautiful dog in the picture is a natural poser and sometimes people call her 'supermodel of the world' and now she has become one!"
First Place, Portrait
"The photograph was taken on the last day of October 2016 in the UK as we had the best autumn for years for it colours for many years but this day there was a mist in the background to make the photo magical," said Carol Durrant. "The photo was taken at Ash Rangers where the dogs walk daily — Crew, Darcie and Pagan. This photo is memorable due to Crew’s short life cut short at 3 with IBD disease."
First Place, Puppies
"Ceylin was the second dog of my friend Birguel. The photo means much too me since her first dog, also an Italian greyhound died at puppy age in a car accident. 13 weeks old Cylin has the whole life in front of her. You can see it in her expression," said Klaus Dyba.
First Place, Rescue Dogs and Dog Charities
"It was very clear that Cooper was the first child for this beautiful and loving couple. In this shot, they are holding hands behind Cooper’s drowsing head. It was a scene of pure contentment and love," said Robyn Kolb.
First Place, Young Pup Photographer
The Young Pup photographer is a new category this year for photographers 11 years old and younger. This year's first-place winner is 11-year-old Mariah Mobley from the U.S.
"I used to live on a farm with horses and dogs, but now live in town with my family, and our three dogs, Hunter, Roxy and Koby. I have always loved animals, especially dogs. I started taking pictures when I was a very little girl, and have loved it ever since," said Mobley. "I took this photo of Roxy, at about 9 p.m., just before I went to bed. It was dark and she was sitting on our back porch waiting for mom to give her a treat. I used a modelling light and the porch light to put light on her pretty face."
"We adopted Roxy from a rescue when she was 7 months old. She had been in a shelter since she was 4 months old. She is 5 years old now and is the sweetest girl. As you can see in the photo, Roxy has an eye disease that causes redness and cloudiness. It is called Pannus. Her eyes are not as clear as they used to be, but I think she is beautiful just as she is."
Second Place, Assistance Dogs and Dog Charities
"This particular photo was taken during the very first time Messi was into a public library to help children acquire interest on reading. The lady in the picture is a writer and reader, and she, along with Instituto Cão Companheiro (Companion Dog Institute), developed this project that is the first one in Brazil," said Maria Cristina Nadalin.
Second Place, Dogs at Play
"This particular photo was taken in September at West wittering beach where we were on a large dog meet up and my two dogs were having a blast. I had my back to Heidi as I was photographing dogs playing in the water, I turned to check on my two and just managed to grab this shot in time," said Steffi Cousins. "I'm so glad I did, it's my favorite photo of Heidi and it shows off her crazy energy perfectly!"
Second Place, Dogs at Work
"These are the sort of conditions I dream about for photography! This morning it all came together perfectly great subject and fantastic dramatic natural light to work with," said Richard Lane.
Second Place, I Love Dogs Because...
"I live in Kingston upon Hull [United Kingdom] with my parents and two dogs and I am currently working through education to become an animal nutritionist as well as competing in the dog sport agility with my dog Darcy. I received my first DSLR, in the December of 2016 and photography has quickly become a new passion of mine and a great way to bond and capture special moments with my canines," said Elise Finney. "This photo was taken during a walk on a lovely summer’s day after a game of fetch. Darcy often rests her head on her ball after she has finished playing and this was the first moment I had managed to capture her doing this on camera."
Second Place, Man's Best Friend
"Meet Kodi, working therapy dog with Divine Canines. This is him with his person, Susan, during their training and certification class in late April, three years ago. He was a little nervous around the other dogs, but all it took was the reassuring touch of the person he loves and he soared through the training to graduate and serve his community," said Sherilyn Vineyard.
Second Place, Oldies
"I took this photo on a rainy winter day. My best friend Nilo was a much traumatized rescue dog, but he felt very comfortable in the car. I love to observe him and I always feel very touched about his melancholic expression," said Rachele Z. Cecchini.
Second Place, Portrait
"This photo was taken during session around Old Market Square in Poznań. I’m still amazed how Thalia was calm and focus despite the city noise," said Katarzyna Siminiak.
Second Place, Puppies
"Since early last year, my partner Raymond Janis and I have had the honour of supporting the Vanderpump Dogs Foundation in Los Angeles by photographing their adoptable dogs. In July 2017, we met these adorable beagle mix puppies," said Charlie Nunn. "As Raymond tried to wrangle them, something magical happened and I was able to capture a perfect moment of a puppy family sticking together."
Second Place, Rescue Dogs and Dog Charities
"This particular image is of my own rescue dog, Magda. She was a bit hesitant and shy when my husband and I came home with our baby, but when the baby went off to nursery school, she would curl up on his rocking chair and roll her fur all over, settling in for a nice nap," said Leslie Plesser.
Second Place, Young Pup Photographer
"My name is Sienna Wemyss, I’m 10 years old and I’m from England, UK. When I grow up, I want to be a fashion photographer and designer. I have loved dogs since I first encountered one! There are so many different kinds of dogs and they are all so unique," said Wemyss. "My dream came true in January this year when I became the proud owner of Dallas, a pedigree Whippet puppy. I was overjoyed!"
"I was relaxing on the sofa one day when Dallas crawled beside me. I put my arms out, expecting him to come and cuddle me. Instead, he gazed at the kitchen dreamily! If he could speak then, I bet he would have said, ‘Dinner?’ He looked very curious, so I grabbed my mum's phone and captured the moment."
Third Place, Assistance Dogs and Dog Charities
"I am an ambassador for the Kotuku Foundation for Assistance Animals Aotearoa, who source, train and place dogs with people who have any diagnosed condition that dogs are known to be capable of assisting with. This includes diabetes, head injuries, depression and PTSI and many more," said Craig Turner-Bullock. "Dion is a veteran who fought, and was injured, at the battle of Baghak in 2012. He experienced PTSI and says that ever since Delta came into his life she has made a huge difference. Dogs assisting veterans are now common around the world, but Delta is the first of her kind here in New Zealand."
Third Place, Dogs at Play
"We had just moved from one of the snowiest cities (Erie, PA) to the middle of nowhere USA (yes, I love you dear Indiana). I didn’t expect much snow, but come on! It was nearly mid-February and not a flake! My boys were used to lots of snow having lived in Erie but Daffy hadn’t a clue," said Sarah Beeson. "And then, it happened: Old man winter arrived. Shame on him, while I was at work, no less! By the time 5 pm rolled around, I was in our backyard - Frisbee soaring and camera in hand. Meet Daffy, Taz, and Wile E. We LOVE frisbee!"
Third Place, Dogs at Work
"For me, the title sums up the image perfectly from both sides. This is a young trainee Police Dog undergoing some initial training. Taken on a miserable, damp day, it shows elements of the bond, trust and relationship that is vital for the partnership between Police Dog and handler," said Ian Squire.
Third Place, I Love Dogs Because...
"I am an 18 year old girl from the Netherlands who loves agility, traveling and photography. The dog in the photo is Fenrir, my youngest dog. He is the perfect model, and the reason why I picked up the camera again," said Kirsten van Ravenhorst. "The camera that I normally use is the Nikon D500, but it needed to be repaired so I used my dad’s D5200 for this photo. This photo was taken in the forest near my house. I went there with my Border Collie Lad Fenrir to test my dad’s new camera."
Third Place, Man's Best Friend
"This picture of Ruby was taken whilst she was resting with my friend Chris after playing with her daughter Nellie. My greatest passion is capturing dogs playing and having fun in their natural environment, the camera is a great way of recording what the naked eye would miss," said Cheryl Murphy.
Third Place, Oldies
"This particular photo was taken during an afternoon walk through a local woodland. The ferns were looking wonderful and provided a perfect natural avenue to draw the viewers' eye in to my subject," said Philip Wright. "I asked Bentley to lay down and he did so with the most beautiful, almost grave expression. They say that eyes are the windows to the soul, and looking at Bentley here I'd be inclined to agree."
Third Place, Portrait
"'I photographed my dog at the window here in my tenement flat in Glasgow using available natural light during a winter’s storm of hailstones, wind and rain," said Michael Sweeney.
Third Place, Puppies
"In this image, I knew the moment Snickers began rolling around on the blanket that I had to embody his zest for life in a photo that would help him find the perfect playful home. I truly love working with dogs of all backgrounds to capture extraordinary photos worthy of even the most sophisticated pet parents and discerning commercial clientele," said Robyn Pope. "At home, we have six gentle giants of our own who serve as ambassadors on our 7-acre pet photography property and the ultimate creative muses."
Third Place, Rescue Dogs and Dog Charities
"My name is Christina and I was born in Munich. I moved to a small village next to Innsbruck in Austria together with my husband 11 years ago. After having settled down, we adopted two rescue dogs from Spain, thrown away like garbage, found in a dustbin. It wasn't possible to literally touch Dania for the first six month. Now we spend all the time together. The dogs accompany us to work and in our leisure time we explore the nature together," said Christina Roemmelt. "My wish was to fix the special mood of these moments, staying outside, enjoying nature together and acting as a team. For this reason, inspired by my husband, who is a landscape photographer, I got in touch with photography three years ago."
"On the picture you can see one of these very special moments. We hiked on Keipen on Senja [Norway] last year and stood speechless on top when the nature was bathed in golden light by the midnight sun. Everything was calm and peaceful. The dogs and us were completely on our own. This is one of my absolutely all-time favourite pictures from our trips."
Third Place, Young Pup Photographer
"I live in the North East of England with my Mum, Dad, Sister Millie and two dogs; Monty & Chester. I have always loved animals and I am constantly entertaining my dogs. I have my own lightweight camera which I carry with me most places and always photographing the dogs," said Maisie Mitford. "Mum had given me her camera (which is really heavy) and set me a challenge to photograph either Monty or Chester for this competition, Chester wasn’t interested but Monty was willing and keen to please — lots of treats were involved!"
The Kennel Club in the U.K. was founded in 1873 and is the oldest recognized kennel club in the world. The organization is "dedicated to protecting and promoting the health and welfare of all dogs. Besides being a voluntary register for pedigree dogs and crossbreed dogs, we offer dog owners and those working with dogs an unparalleled source of education, experience and advice on puppy buying, dog health, dog training and dog breeding."