Candice Sedighan was 10 years old when she first laid eyes on the golden retriever puppy her father had named Champ. She was mourning the loss of the family dog, and her dad hoped that Champ — an adorable “ 'Marley and Me’ type of puppy” — would comfort her.

In the 10 years since then, Champ has not only been a companion to Sedighan, but also a best friend and a source of creative inspiration.

“Champ and I have grown up together, and after my dad passed away in 2012, he was once again a great comfort to me,” she says.

Sedighan developed an interest in photography when she was 13, and Champ quickly became one of her favorite subjects. After getting positive feedback on her work, she created a Flickr account and joined a group called “52 Weeks for Dogs,” where participants take pictures of their canine companions once a week for an entire year.

“It's a close-knit group that is really supportive of one another,” Sedighan says. “Since you are supposed to take a photo of your dog every week, it always keeps me on my toes to make sure to pick up my camera and practice my skills regularly.”

Snapping weekly photos of Champ and getting feedback from fellow dog lovers and photographers helped Sedighan improve her craft, and it provided opportunities for her to get creative.

She’s taken pictures of Champ outdoors, with props, in costume and underwater, and she seems to have no shortage of ideas.

“I get my ideas just by observing what is around me,” she says. “Whether it be coming across a nice location or interesting prop at the store, or just simply how the sun is setting or the rain is falling. When I don't have a specific idea planned out for the week and can't think of anything, I literally just go outside and look around me.”

But Sedighan’s ideas wouldn’t come to fruition without Champ. Even before she started taking photos, Sedighan was working with her dog and teaching him a variety of tricks and commands — from “sit” and “stay” to “cuddle” and “take a bow.”

“All these basic tricks and commands he has learned come in handy if I have a specific photo idea in mind. For example, I have a photo of Champ with a live butterfly on his nose and Champ's ‘leave it’ trick in which he can balance treats and other objects on his nose helped achieve this.”

The time Sedighan has spent training her dog and honing her craft have certainly paid off. Her photos of Champ have won multiple photography contests, but she says her most notable win was Hallmark’s greeting card contest. Champ is currently featured on three Hallmark cards, which are sold nationwide.

“My photos pretty much just started as a way to share photos of my dog with other dog lovers and since then have become much more,” Sedighan says.

Check out some of her stunning photos of Champ at Sedighan's Facebook page.

Champ the dog with plane

Champ the dog swimming

Champ the dog at beach

Champ the dog

More pet photography stories on MNN:

Laura Moss writes about a variety of topics with a focus on animals, science, language and culture. But she mostly writes about cats.

Photographer finds daily inspiration in her dog
Candice Sedighan combines her passion for photography with a love for her golden retriever, Champ, to create stunning works of art.