The winning photos in The Kennel Club's annual Dog Photographer of the Year competition are a treat for the eyes and the soul. The photo contest, which is hosted by the oldest recognized kennel club in the world, has a proven track record of making our hearts melt year after year, and this batch is no exception.
This overall winning photo perfectly captures the essential elements of the human-dog relationship: love, loyalty and companionship. The image, by Maria Davison of Portugal, also took home first place in the "Man's Best Friend" category.
“This image was already close to my heart, and it is one of the photographs I am most proud of," Davison said in a press release. "It was not only a beautiful, real and candid moment I got to capture, but also a demonstration of the strong bond between one of my closest friends and her dog, Yzma."
In the "Dogs at Work" category, Sarah Caldecott from Yorkshire, England took the top prize with this photo titled "On the Move," featuring a perfectly focused pointer in mid-air.
“The photograph of Rita was taken during a training day in February this year on the moors in County Durham. The weather hadn't been kind and the light was fading fast," Caldecott said.
The wondrous expression on the man's face and the obvious gentle nature of the dog made a winning combination for this photo, which took first place in the "Assistance Dogs" category. Alasdair MacLeod from Ayrshire, Scotland, took this candid shot of a retired greyhound named Megan from Canine Concern Scotland and nursing home resident Duncan, a 95-year-old Royal Air Force veteran.
This powerful black-and-white image titled "Always by my side" won second place in the "Assistance Dogs" category.“This particular photo was taken at a local park during a session with a fellow photographer. Reno, who is pictured with his owner, a double amputee never left his side," said photographer John Ferrett of the U.K. "I wanted to capture the true bond between them. His owner tells me that he has trained Reno himself to assist him in everyday life and shared with me that Reno is a Godsend and is a massive part of his life.”
On a more light-hearted note, this photo of Tyson the baby boxer won first place in the "Puppy" category. Titled "Full Concentration," it was taken by Netherlands-based photographer Mirjam Schreurs.
"Dogs are loyal friends, and I love them a lot, that’s why I focus on dog photography," said Schreurs. "The picture of Tyson was ... made at the end of the shoot, [when] the dog sat down and had a wonderful concentration to his owner. This was a wonderful moment.”
Rodrigo Capuski of Brazil won second place in the "Dogs at Play" category for this soft and sunny photo of Leica playing in a chamomile field. (The first place "Dogs at Play" photo is at the top of this page.)
"This photo was taken a week before the chamomile harvest, on a weekend we decided to look for new locations to photograph," Capuski said. "The chamomile field is 50 km from Curitiba, Brazil, in a rural location with several varieties of plantations. It was a day when Leica had a lot of fun and went back home yellow and smelling like chamomile."
Looking at the above photo, would you have guessed it was taken by an 8-year-old? The Kennel Club competition's "Young Pup Photographer" category is open to children age 11 and under. Dylan Jenkins from Swansea, Wales, won first place with this photo of Mosey.
"I love taking photos and videos of Mosey because she is so funny, gentle and sleepy," said Jenkins. "I also like taking photos and videos of the birds. ... I took this photo in my garden. We had some cake and Mosey came to sniff it. I took about 20 photos and this was the best and the funniest."
The "Rescue Dog" category is one of The Kennel Club's newest categories, and entries are supposed to promote "the positive attributes of rescue dogs either currently living in a shelter or at home with their new family." The photo above fits the former category and features Chloe looking up with fixed, expectant eyes at a kind shelter worker.
“Chloe [and her sister] came to Bath Cats and Dogs Home when their owner died," said photographer Alexandra Robins of Wiltshire, England. "I had the pleasure of photographing the sisters while they were playing in one of the grass paddocks, when I captured this special moment between Chloe and her carer.”
Thankfully, many of those shelter stories have a happy ending — and such is the case with Joshua, the pit bull terrier in the above photo, which won third place in the "Rescue Dog" category. Titled simply "Home," it was taken by Kaylee Greer of the U.S. about 12 hours after she adopted Joshua from a shelter. His huge smile says it all.
“The next morning after adopting him, only 12 hours or so since he left his well-worn place in his shelter cage, we went on our first walk together as human and dog, and I was lucky enough to capture this moment," Greer says. "This is the definitive, tiny slice of time in which the joy can only be measured by the size of his perfect smile. A moment in which Joshua discovered he was finally home.”
It's worth noting Greer had two winning photos in this competition, as her image at the top of this page won first place in the "Dogs at Play" category.
You can see all the winning photos and learn more about each photographer on The Kennel Club's website.