No one should live their life doing just one thing or focusing on one skill set. When Diana Lundin went off to college, she found herself majoring in journalism but it was the emphasis on photojournalism that came in real handy when she landed her first job after graduation at a weekly paper. She remembers, “I did everything from the reporting and writing, to the photography and developing and making prints in the darkroom, to going to advertisers and picking up their ad copy, to delivering the paper once a week.”
As her career in journalism grew, writing became the focus and photography was put on the back burner focusing on it on the weekends when she could. That is until 2011 when she got laid off, “I immediately made my weekend photo business my primary job along with video. Two years later, I took photos of my neighbor dogs and that really was my Eureka moment. Pet photography became my niche.”
Today Diana Lundin is one of the leading pet photographers in Los Angeles with her creative concepts, dynamic shots, and wonderful attention to detail. We talked about all of that, Dog Noir, the importance of physical shots, and so much more.
Kendra: While you did leave one career for another, you took attributes of writing with you as you’ve noted how much you appreciate good storytelling. With writing, we have numerous drafts before the final piece – how does that work in the photography realm?
Diana Lundin: When an image comes straight out of the camera in the raw format I shoot in, it has nothing applied to it. It’s pretty flat but it contains the maximum amount of information a digital file can contain. So the magic begins in Photoshop. Minimally, I make color adjustments and crop the images but there’s really quite a bit more to it. I’ve been entering international photo competitions, and preparing images for those is very exacting. I can do the first draft of an image that looks good. I can do a second draft that looks great. But I can do a third draft that takes that image to a whole new level.
Kendra: You do offer your clients a custom mobile app, but it does seem like you’re more on the side of not relying on your phone for photos. While smartphones have changed society in a vast amount of ways, do you feel it’s cheapened the art of photography in any way?
Diana Lundin: I mean, it’s easy to complain about how digital photography in general and phones, in particular, have cheapened photography in the sense it satisfies a desire to have unlimited images of a particular moment in time. And I get it, it’s fun, I take them too. But I don’t print them.
I generally don’t take them into Photoshop and make them more than they are…an instant memory. And my eye knows what’s good and what’s technically “bad.” I do cringe when I see a picture with horrible digital noise, not in focus, low resolution, with people having red eyes posted on social media and people commenting, “What a great photo!” or “That’s the cutest thing ever.” What they’re commenting on, of course, is the content. They are connected to the content. But sometimes I think a lot of these photos are good enough for the parent or friends to have. I like photos that are more than good enough. My clients do, too, they appreciate finer photography.
Kendra: Which, you are such a champion for having physical photos. As am I, and in thinking about it I thought of this…we’ve become a society that is all about instant gratification and constant sharing. Do you feel like that maybe the number one reason people are hesitant to take a photo and wait for it to develop? They won’t get the instant “high” of someone liking or commenting on their photo?
Diana Lundin: That’s a great observation. We are indeed trained for instant gratification. But good things come to those who wait, right? You know, I see it kind of as images people take with their phones really are good enough. Professional pet photography is a luxury item. No one’s going to die if they don’t have it. And a well-done photography experience can cost money and everyone has their values.
I wouldn’t pay big bucks for, say, a designer handbag. But my wallet is bottomless for things I really love, things I value. But yes, I understand the idea of wanting images instantly. When I come home after I shoot, I can’t wait to see them myself and I usually send my clients an “amuse-bouche” so they can share that immediately if they’d like. As for having physical photos, I have photos of my great grandparents. What I don’t have are images I took five phones ago.
Kendra: Can we talk about these Dog Noir shoots? This is definitely a first for me and I love it. When did this all start and what inspired you to dive into and offer such a niche genre for your clients?
Diana Lundin: Dog Noir is a first for everyone! It is completely original! I started shooting them last fall. I was looking for a new project after my ice cream book was finished and Dog Noir is as dark as the ice cream shoots were bright. Now a lot of photographers have done film-noir inspired shoots but no one added animals into every shoot. That’s me, that’s mine.
Los Angeles in the ’40s is a classic noir setting for films. And of course this is an entertainment industry town where dogs rule, vintage is a lifestyle, and cosplay is huge. It ticks all of those boxes and it’s a fun experience you can do with your dog. Everyone thinks it’s fun! They are dressed up and acting for just a little while. It’s very special. The images look as if they are black and white stills pulled from a film noir movie. They do have their own personality, for sure. It’s already winning awards if I might brag.
Kendra: Can you let the people know what you have coming up? Any more Doggy Ice Cream Socials on the books?
Diana Lundin: We are doing an ice cream social for dogs on July 21st in Studio City as a fundraiser for Lisa Arturo’s Big Love Animal Rescue. Her organization gets all of the session fees and I’ll have cool products there at event prices. The three-hour event has exactly one spot left as of this moment. I’ll be going to Kriser’s Studio City on August 3rd, Pussy & Pooch’s DTLA location to do book signings of Dogs Vs. Ice Cream published by Familius and give ice cream to the humans this time August 3rd, and Top Dog Barkery in Huntington Beach on August 10th. All of those start at 2 p.m. And we’ll also be giving doggy ice cream to the pooches as well. It’s free, it’ll be fun, and you don’t have to have a dog or a book to come.
Also, we just did a Days of Wine and Rosés event in June on National Rosé Day. I photographed dogs in a rosé-themed shoot and sommelier Brianne Cohen gave a tasting of five rosés along with prizes and rosé bubbly all afternoon. I like to create experiences people can enjoy with their dogs. This particular event benefitted Mutt Scouts, a local rescue.
Oh, I also do composite photography with pets through my site. I will be doing Dog Noir for quite a while, I want to create a book from it, so it will be many miles before I rest on that one. But I’m dreaming up the next big thing. I got big ideas! Stay tuned!