National Geographic photographer Vincent J. Musi has had quite an interesting career, having traveled all over the world and getting some incredible wildlife shots of such animals like lions, bears, elephants, tigers, etc. However, in 2017 we decided to focus his lens a little closer to home and began taking pictures of dogs.
Using the wealth of expertise that he’s accumulated over the years of his career, Musi spent an entire year focused solely on the portraits of dogs, and those pictures have all landed up inside his new book, “The Year of the Dogs.” The coffee table read is full of incredible up-close portraits, and Musi includes his impressions and musings on the personalities of his furry little subjects. He has funny stories like his encounter with the farting bulldog, and other unusual ones like the Labrador Retriever who’s a fan of opera.
So why did Musi decide to make the transition from man-eating beast to man’s best friend?
He explained, “In the spring of our son Hunter’s sixteenth year, my wife, Callie, and I realized that he was quickly turning into a grown-up and would be leaving the nest before we knew it. Wanting to spend as much time as possible with Hunter before the metamorphosis was complete, I decided to forgo all assignments that involved travel, which was pretty much all assignments.”
Being a photographer for National Geographic means that travel is “pretty much a mandatory thing.” That is why Musi made the decision to reinvent himself as a dog photographer. He even built himself a studio in the back of a pet-food store.
“I named it The Unleashed Studio and announced that I was looking for a few good dogs. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. My colleagues felt bad for me and wondered if I was losing it. I started to wonder myself,” Musi said.
Musi received from his wife and son, and soon was inviting people to the studio to photograph their pets. His son gave him the idea to include stories about the dogs he took pictures of and then post them to Instagram. At first, Musi wasn’t keen on the idea but eventually came around.
“‘Nobody cares about other people’s dogs,’ I said. I was wrong about that. We’ve received the kindest reaction from all over the world to these fabulous dogs,” Musi revealed. “People write to me when they laugh, when they cry, and when they accidentally spit out their morning coffee over a joke or photograph.”
His business now clients traveling hundreds, if not thousands of miles, in order to have Musi photograph their dogs in his studio.
However, there are some people, as Musi says, that pity him for having given up on the exotic photography for dogs. But Musi is very fulfilled with his new direction in life, and he reveals that it’s the most fulfilling work of his life, plus he’s having the best time so far.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.
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