Just two years ago Elias Weiss Friedman assumed the pseudonym “The Dogist” after being inspired by the great street fashion photographer Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist. The idea quickly blew up and has lead to a dedicated following of over 1.2 million and counting on Instagram. In this short timeframe he learned how to become a professional photographer and has since documented over 8,000 dogs, mostly on the streets of New York City, posting more than 3,000 on @thedogist.
He also established his 10 Commandments of Dog Photography, which he shared with us in this exclusive video, and is publishing his first book, The Dogist: Photographic Encounters with 1,000 Dogs.
“Early on, I knew I was collecting these photographs for something but didn’t think a book would happen so quickly,” he says. “The idea of posting four times a day is to be part of people’s lives.” His prolific output is the result of non-stop shooting and staking out the best dog walks all over the city. “The book is a ‘best of’ but it’s also a way to see the photos in a new way, outside of Instagram.”
The Dogist’s challenge is to make an interesting photo that people can instantly connect with. “It’s easy to take a photo of a person and make it look posed but with dogs it’s the opposite. I want them (the dog) to seem like they know they are having their photo taken. I’m taking something ordinary like a dog on a walk and making it feel like a moment.”
It’s also about the small details that help people connect with his pictures. “These days I’m adding more personality. Names are powerful things. [I also include] the age, breed and other small details because it makes them individuals and that resonates with a lot of people.”
The Dogist: Photographic Encounters with 1000 Dogs (Artisan, 2015) is out now.