Richard Horsfield from Par in Cornwall is recognised as one of the best dog portrait photographers there is. His background is as a national press photographer, today he focuses on fine art portraits of pets. Here is a gallery of some of his beautiful photographs of dogs, and a little more information about Richard and his own dog, Neo.
“I’ve always loved animals, dogs in particular,” says Richard. “I came down to Cornwall about 15 years ago and was working as a press photographer. But the industry changed and I realised I wasn’t that happy, so I decided to start doing work that did make me happy, and photographing dogs seemed ideal.”
Richard’s style of portrait is his hallmark. Inspired by the Old Masters, his images are very painterly in style, with dogs beautifully lit against a dark backdrop, the effect is soulful, ethereal and timeless. These are not photographs that go in and out of fashion, but something that can be framed or hung as a canvas anywhere, for years to come.
“I wanted them to be timeless, and I also wanted to capture dogs as their owners see them. Photos taken on location with the dogs in action are lovely, but most of us see our dogs when we are at home, relaxing together — that is how we see them and remember them.”
Richard’s own dog is Neo, a beautiful black and white Cane Corso that he rescued from near Truro when Neo was just a five-month-old a puppy. They love walking around Pontsmill or near Callestick Farm together. In his work, Richard uses his instinctive affinity with dogs to capture to calm, peaceful poses in his photographs.
“I tend to allow more time than other photographers — the dogs are calm because I spend an hour getting to know them and their quirks and characters while I set up the backdrop and lighting in the owner’s home. Then by the time we take the photo the dog is relaxed. I don’t use treats because that causes the dogs to drool and you can see in the image they are very focused on the treat.”
It has taken Richard a little time to master this technique. “When we launched the pet portraits two or three years ago, we started with a puppy weekend, and that was chaotic,” laughs Richard. “Puppies are not trained of course, and I would get put them in the right place, then call them to get them to look at me and of course, they ran to me, and as I was often lying down, I became a puppy toy for most of the weekend.”
Today Richard’s pet portraits are popular all over the UK and his photographs are often used as covers on Dogs Today and Dogs Monthly — so it’s possible your own hound could be a cover star.
Below is a gallery of some of Richard’s portraits. If you’d like to see more or book a pet portrait for your own dog, you can find out more at www.richardhorsfield.com