When Twin Cities high school student Susie Kixmoeller tried unsuccessfully to take candid photos of her rescue dog at play, she found a way to shoot without interrupting the play — she turned her dog into the photographer.
I’ve always loved taking pictures of Tula. She plays with so many dogs, but when I got close, they’d stop paying attention to each other and come over to me,” Kixmoeller told Star Tribune.
Tula and these two pups seem to be engaged in a very serious conversation. I wonder what issue is being discussed? Whatever the topic of conversation, they certainly are adorable. This picture was taken by our dog, Tula, who wears a GoPro camera attached to a harness while she runs and plays at the dog park. #photosbytula #minnehahadogpark #dogsofinstagram
A photo posted by Canine Happy Hour (@caninehappyhour) on May 17, 2016 at 7:15pm PDT
Wearing a GoPro around her chest, Tula is able to photograph pups at play from their level. The result? @Caninehappyhour on Instagram.
Of course, that means Tula’s not in the photos herself (except sometimes her nose), but other dogs (and dog walkers) make for a few unique shots. The camera is set up to fire off a shot every half second — Kixmoeller will usually end up with anywhere from 7,000 to 11,000 images from a single visit to the dog park, weeding them down to a few to share on Instagram.
Slim displays his amazing dance moves! Slim and Skeeter @sheppolly showed Tula around Shoreview Dog Park, their home territory. Their guidance ensured a perfectly wet and muddy visit. Huge success! Humans and dogs all had a great time. Thank you for the hospitality. We will return. This picture was taken by our dog, Tula, who wears a GoPro camera attached to a harness while she runs and plays at the dog park. #caninehappyhour @gopro #gopro #dogs #dogpark #offleash #photosbytula #dogsrunningfree #therapydog #shoreviewdogpark #whistlelabs @whistlelabs.
A photo posted by Canine Happy Hour (@caninehappyhour) on Apr 30, 2016 at 6:55pm PDT
After less than six months of posting images from the four-legged photographer, the page has over 7,000 followers. Kixmoeller also often gives the images to other dog owners at no charge.
With the timing of the photos automated, there’s not much Kixmoeller can do to improve the quality of the photos; keeping the GoPro clean is one of the biggest challenges. Tula shoots at an off-leash dog park, so there’s plenty of opportunities for the “phodographer” to play and interact.
Related: How to take the best pet photographs
While the images are fun, there could be more in store for Tula and the Kixmoeller family. The success of the page has sparked an interest in publishing a photo book of the images. The proceeds would be used to help out shelters like the one Tula was adopted from after she was found inside a birdcage.
And that’s a cause even an unsuspecting four-pawed photographer could get on board with.