While many humans were flocking to the pools to beat the heat this weekend in Western New York, some dogs also spent some time in a pool, as models for world-renowned underwater dog photographer Seth Casteel.
The photo shoots at SandDancer Canine Swim Therapy & Fitness were a once in a lifetime opportunity for some dog’s families.
“It’s just a keepsake forever. I was telling people, it’s my dog’s bucket list kind of thing,” said Colleen Nauha, who brought her dog Mia for a session with Casteel.
Mia is an eight-year-old Maltese/Yorkie mix, who can be pretty shy when she’s on land.
But, the veteran dock diving dog transformed when she got her chance to get in the pool with Casteel.
“As soon as that dog sees the water, bang, right in the water, going crazy, going bonkers, and the pictures will blow your mind,” Casteel told News 4.
Mia is one of 21 dogs getting one of these special sessions in Orchard Park this weekend, as part of Casteel’s national photo shoot tour.
Casteel has been taking these kinds of photos for about eight years now, and his best selling books, including Underwater Dogs, Underwater Puppies, and Underwater Babies showcase his unique portrait style.
Mia’s family came all the way from Ottawa to get that perfect picture of their furry friend.
“It’s amazing. You don’t get shots like that!” Nauha said.
Casteel’s photography sessions start with some play in the water, to get the dogs used to the pool and his equipment.
Then, it’s straight to work, encouraging dogs to dive for their favorite toys, while Casteel works to capture the spirit of the canine models doing what they love in the water.
“I’m just fascinated with dogs. Dogs inspire us. They inspire me. My whole life’s about dogs. And it’s cool to just go along for the ride and do what they want to do,” Casteel said. “That’s why underwater dog pictures are so much fun is because these dogs are having a blast.”
No two underwater dog photos are the same. There’s a huge variety in the tone and composition.
That reflects the huge variety when it comes to the models, even among those taking part in photo shoots in Orchard Park this weekend.
“All different breeds, mixed breeds, ages. Our smallest dog is around 5 pounds, I think, Mia, the little Maltese/Yorkie. And yesterday we had a 170 pound dog, which was a Saint Bernard mix,” Casteel said. “We’ve seen them all.”
After working with so many different dogs, Casteel says it’s hard to pick a favorite.
But, he says little Mia is a front runner because of her enthusiasm in the pool.
“When I see a little dog like that, that probably shouldn’t be doing this because it never happens, this is a breed that’s probably sitting on the couch more or less, this dog is maybe a top 10 underwater dog of all time,” Casteel said.
To learn more about Casteel’s work and his ongoing national photo shoot tour, check out his website: http://www.sethcasteel.com/