Each year, the Dog Writers Association of America hosts its annual banquet and awards event in February. The 2020 event was a complete success and sold out over a month in advance.
This year, the task of photographing the DWAA event was given to Angela Schneider, owner and founder of Noses & Toes Pet Photography. I sat down to turn the lens on Angela so our dog writing community can get to know her. Here’s the scoop:
All About Angela
DWAA: Hi Angela. Thanks for sitting down with us for this interview. Tell us about yourself and how long you’ve been a professional photographer.
Angela Schneider (AS): I launched Noses & Toes Pet Photography in Spokane, Washington in January of 2018 to escape a miserable, soul-sucking marketing career.
DWAA: Do you focus solely on pets as your subjects?
AS: Yes. Your pet is always the star of your session. I offer sessions of just your dog, you and your dog, or you can bring the whole family, if you want. But the dog is the star. Always. All ways. My ultimate goal for each session, though, is to get that one magical moment, the sweet instant where I get to see that amazing connection you have with your dog.
It is, more often than not, found in the non-posed moments, the seconds where you’re just loving your dog and I’m not telling you “OK, do this, now this, and this.” I think of a recent session where a young fellow was reunited with his Great Pyrenees that was lost to him for three years. I asked him to look into Wrangler’s eyes but they ended up touching foreheads and … well, tears are streaming down my face as I write this because I was so privileged to witness that moment and document it for Ryland.
DWAA: What made you want to get involved with photographing pets?
AS: I’ve been a photographer for a lifetime. I had a camera in my hands as a teenager and I still have the 3×3 prints of my rough collie, Princess. I tried to take pictures of my family but mostly, they just wanted to flip me off.
So there was my dog, ready, willing and able. She even posed! My first career was sports writing in small-town Canada, and I often had to take my own pictures to accompany my stories. I shot a lot of hockey (naturally, Canada), baseball, soccer, rugby, and other sports. I abandoned my film gear in the early 2000s when I started working for a big-city daily and had a staff of photographers who were much much better than me. I came back into photography, though, shortly after Shep came into my life.
He took me out of my Ford Mustang, high heels and big city and put me into an SUV, hiking boots and the mountains. And when you’re in the most beautiful place in the world, the Alberta Rockies, with the most beautiful dog in the world, you can’t not want a camera in my hand. When Shep died and Bella came into my life, I wanted to get better and document her life and adventures. A friend said, “you should” and I thought, “come on, that’s not a thing” but I started researching pet photography and here I am.
On Being A DWAA Member
DWAA: Are you a DWAA member and what do you enjoy about your membership? How has DWAA been a benefit to you?
AS: I am a new member so I have yet to truly investigate what is available to me. I found DWAA by happenstance, probably on Facebook, learned about the awards competition and entered. I was a finalist in three categories but didn’t win any. The experience made me want to become more involved and start working toward getting my own Maxwell.
DWAA: As the official photographer for this year’s writing competition and banquet, what did you enjoy? Was this the first time you attended a DWAA event?
AS: It was my first time attending a DWAA event. I loved seeing the camaraderie and passion among such a variety of content creators. We are an incredibly diverse group and yet we have common bonds: to create and to love our animals.
Documenting the DWAA banquet was a real step outside my comfort zone. I wasn’t intending on being at the event until the opportunity to photograph it was presented. Event photography isn’t quite as easy as it may sound and it presents a unique set of challenges. I certainly appreciate the opportunity and intend to get better at that subgenre of the overall craft of photography.
About Her Pets
DWAA: What pets share your life at present?
AS: Bella turns six on March 24. She is a Maremma sheepdog, a breed to which my soul is inextricably tied. The Maremma Sheepdog has a natural instinct to protect/guardian and personality traits of stubbornness, aloofness, defiance, and independence. I love it in so many ways. My first dog as an adult was a rescue Maremma. Shep was my soulmate. Bella is my best friend.
DWAA: Just for fun, what’s your favorite dog-themed book?
AS: Oooh, good question. I have to go with For the Love of a Dog by Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D. I was first drawn to Patricia’s blog for her work in training Great Pyrenees, a breed that’s cousin to the Maremma. I have many dog-eared pages in my copy of For the Love of a Dog but the one piece of writing that has always held with me is at the very end.
“This emotional connection between us isn’t trivial. We humans may be brilliant we may be special, but we are still connected to the rest of life. No one reminds us of that better than our dogs. … Dogs are our bridge—our connection to who we really are, and most tellingly, who we want to be.” Patricia reminds me how special is the bond we share with our dogs, and reminds me why the work I do is so important. Our dogs aren’t with us long enough, and we should honor the legacy of their love and their stories with precious images of their lives with us.
Get In Touch
DWAA: If folks wanted to hire you to photograph their pet, do you travel? How far? What services do you offer? Where can they find more information?
AS: I generally serve Eastern Washington and North Idaho; however – and much to my husband’s chagrin – I would absolutely travel for sessions with expenses paid. My goal is to ensure pet lovers like us have beautiful images that document their lives with us. My specialty is making your pup the star with a beautiful landscape background. Some photographers love their studio work but I like to say that I couldn’t possibly build a better studio than Mother Nature already has created!
Photos From DWAA’s Event
Angela’s official photos have been combined with images from Carol Bryant, DWAA’s current President, as well as some from Christine Aiello and John Marton.