How to get a dog and jellyfish to pose for the camera – the fun and struggle of photographing animals with Ty Foster
April 13, 2017 by Justyne Knoepfli
Roger Caras once said “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole” and Ty Foster won’t contradict this quote: in addition to his love for dogs and other animals, he works with them as a photographer!
Ty Foster grew up in Connecticut and began his career as an insurance underwriter. Step by step, he captured animals and just turned it into his profession. He is one of those photographers who is able to bring out emotions from our furry companions and highlight their beauty and personality in every shot. As an animal lover, Ty not only captures dogs but all kinds of animals, domestic or wild; he has shot snakes, eagles, a jellyfish or a wolf among others.
Recognised around the globe, his work has been featured in ABC, The London Times and The Daily Mail to name just a few. Turning each story into a success, we wanted to know more about him and his experiences.
Production Paradise: Most of the kids want to have a pet, have you always been a dog lover? When did you get the idea of specialising in animal photography?
Ty Foster: I’ve definitely always been intrigued by animals. As a kid I always thought I wanted to be a veterinarian but after realizing there was more to the job than just hanging out with animals I veered course. One of my mentors told me that as a photographer you could be good at photographing lots of things or great at photographing one thing. So I chose one thing and that happened to be animals.
Production Paradise: The “cone of shame” series has been a huge success. How did it all start?
Ty Foster: Like most of my other projects, it began as just an idea. Out of all my series I have shot, it’s the one that came together the quickest. I had a few dogs that I thought would be wonderful for the project, very expressive, and well behaved. It’s one of those rare times when everything comes together perfectly.
Production Paradise: You have said “One of the driving reasons I work with dogs specially is that they are always genially expressing how they feel”. Do you have a preferred breed to work with because of the way they express those emotions?
Ty Foster: In regards to emotions, no. I’ve always been able to work with any breed and get the emotions I am looking for. Could be luck. Visually, I’ve always been drawn to the shorter hair breeds.
Production Paradise: You have shot lots of different animals from all kinds of environments such as snakes, eagles or even a jellyfish. Which animal would you like to capture again? Which one would you enjoy to shot if you had the opportunity?
Ty Foster: Each and every species has been a pleasure to work with, especially the animals that you rarely have contact with – you learn to really respect these animals. I would love to work with additional birds of prey. I’d really love the opportunity to photograph some whales or rhinos. Domestically though, I’d love to work with some bison.
Production Paradise: The “lick” series that later became a book is another great treat for our eyes. I believe it all started when you first tried to keep a dog’s attention with peanut butter on his nose? Can you tell us more about this?
Ty Foster: The lick series came to fruition when I was working on another job for a client, I really needed to get this dog’s attention so I turned to peanut butter. Obviously it worked wonders and, in turn, created an entire series and two books.
Production Paradise: We’ve really enjoyed the “Heckscher Farm and Heritage Breed Livestock” pictures. How was the experience of photographing these animals? How many days did you spend on the farm to capture all of the livestock featured in this series?
Ty Foster: I was approached by a nature center to create portraits of all their animals on the farm. The majority of the animals were Heritage breed livestock, which were prevalent during pre-industrial agriculture. These breeds were specifically bred to adapt to their environments and thrived under farming practices. They’re very different than the breeds of farm animals that are around now. I spent three days capturing portraits of all the animals.
Production Paradise: You’ve managed to make each of your stories incredibly creative, humorous and definitely unique. What is your next project?
Ty Foster: I am working on a new project right now, but it’s still in its early phases.
Production Paradise: How useful is Production Paradise for you and your work?
Ty Foster: Production Paradise has been an excellent marketing resource, helping to increase exposure to brands and creatives that would have been impossible otherwise.
We would like to thank Ty Foster for taking time to answer our questions, it was a pleasure to look into his body of work! To see more of Ty’s work, go on his website or check his member page on Production Paradise.
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