Image: Martina Eckardt

Dogs in Action – Cape Town 2022

For the first time ever we managed to get international dog photography master Claudio Piccoli down to our little neck of the woods in sunny South Africa to do a photography workshop. What a privilege and absolute pleasure it was to have had the opportunity to host this event last month.

Claudio Piccoli has been one of my idols in dog photography ever since I started taking up this passion of dog photography. This past year he has been my mentor, motivator and friend and I finally had the opportunity to meet and work with him in this beautiful country I now call home.

Dogs in Action

Dogs in Action is a dedicated genre of dog photography created by Claudio. These photos depicting happy flying dogs have become his trademark in the world of dog photography, to which he has dedicated an entire workshop to. Claudio offers his workshops all throughout the world as a 2 day event full of action, shooting, learning, chatting and most importantly dogs! We had a total of 30 dogs with us in Cape Town which is absolutely barking mad…yet oh so rewarding!

We have sourced dogs from all over the greater region of Cape Town, giving us multiple breeds and personalities to capture. Every one of them crazy and joyous as they waited patiently for their turn to shine. Claudio refers to the expressions on their faces as “dogs experiencing total freedom”. His absolute favourite subject in the world.

dogs in action model australian shepherd

I will admit, having been told that we will be wading into ankle deep freezing cold water at 7am in the deep of winter on the windy coast beach had me in a slight panic, however I’m happy to report that no limbs were lost and it turned out to be quite an enjoyable experience for all involved. Thank you to our dog models, owners and helpers who braved the cold water with us!

The workshop

Claudio teaches his workshop participants all the theory involved in dog action photography before taking you out on a shoot. He spends time explaining settings, composition, dog postures and expressions and guides you through your shoot in some of the best locations. I had the pleasure of meeting up with Claudio a day before the workshop to location scout. This allowed me the added bonus of getting to know his entire scouting process. One tends to underestimate the potential of a good location, take the time to scout!

For Cape Town we were lucky enough to shoot in a forest as well as in shallow water on a popular beach. A true challenge for any photographer in both cases. Though for the dogs it may as well have been a field full of bones, as they had the absolute time of their lives. 

To round off the amazing weekend we got a glimpse into Claudio’s complete creative workflow. Here he teaches us how to enhance an image through light, colour and composition in Adobe Photoshop. These images are amazing straight out of camera but post processing just adds that touch of magic!

I have been enrolled in Claudio’s Dog Photography Masters class since the beginning of 2022. Along with amazing dog photographers Anne Geier and Audrey Bellot they have taught us everything there is to know in dog photography. Here I have seen portions of his workflow already, but seeing it used on an image from the shoot of the workshop was surreal. Manipulating light and colours to add depth and emotion to images is something I have strived towards my entire career.

Closing thoughts

This workshop has helped me in ways I can’t even express and has boosted my confidence dramatically. One of the best experiences for me was to finally capture a flying disc dog. I have Remi and Ella to thank for this, without their training and commitment I would still be yearning for this shot. I am hoping that my newly acquired skills and knowledge will mark a new stage in my photography journey.

If you haven’t signed up to one of Claudio’s workshops yet, I suggest you do! He is currently offering workshops in the USA, Netherlands and Belgium for 2022.

What are your thoughts? Are you a fan of Dogs in Action?

Thank you Claudio, for an amazing weekend, for allowing me to try out your precious lens, and for becoming a good friend. 

A very special thank you also to all our models that joined us that weekend, this would not have been possible without you!

dogs in action model papillon
flying border collie
dogs in action water model australian shepherd
disc dog border collie

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