Kristie Lee, Dog Whisperer

by Jacqueline Tobin

July 12, 2013

Lee, who arrived in Manhattan this past March, has an unrelenting passion for photographing dogs, so much so that she recently started a blog, www.dogsandthecity.net, where she posts portraits of her recent subjects. She also likes to include a short profile on each one (courtesy of the dog’s owner) and sometimes gives her own input too.

Case in point—her most recent canine obsession, a bulldog named Tugboat (above). “Tug is the unofficial dog mayor of the building he lives in on East 57th Street,” Lee writes on her blog. “He resides there with his caretaker, Janet. The name Tugboat was borrowed from a friend of Janet’s in Chicago. One could not think of a more perfect name for the lovable, strong and steadfast honorary guard dog of the building. As he sits in front of the building watching the world pass one can only smile.”

Committed to an hour or two walk a day to find potential pooches to photograph, Lee goes out armed with a survey for dog owners to fill out about their pets, including entries such as “Age,” “Breed,” “Likes” and “Loves.”  

She also brings a camera, a reflector and little finger puppets. “The puppets are how I get the dogs to look at the camera,” she explains.

Often Lee will pass out mini business cards to dog owners and, after she takes a “sneak peek” shot with her iPhone of a dog she is interested in, she has the owners look them up on her Instagram account (@dogsandthecitydotnet) or her Facebook page (www.facebook.com/KristieLee
Photographer).

Her passion for this genre of portraits is so strong that she is currently talking to the Humane Society to offer her portrait services to help dogs get adopted. “I like to capture the personality of the dogs and these days a lot of people don’t even go into shelters, they just go online to adopt,” she says, “and the images are so bad. I think if they have beautiful images, the dogs have more chances of finding homes.”

One bonus to shooting pets, Lee sums up, is that retouching is kept to a minimum. “Dogs don’t care how many wrinkles they have!”  RF 

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