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Put a Dog in it

Animals sell, and Photographer Mark Rogers helps them do it.

An adorable French Bulldog in a shopping cart looks up at the camera

It’s the oldest trick in the marketing book. To get people’s attention, just add puppy. And that’s what animal photographer Mark Rogers does best. Mark has been working with dogs, cats, birds and all manner of loyal pals for his entire career, for both marketing and private clients. When it’s time to tug on the heart strings, Mark often gets the call.

A tired pup yawns while lounging in a dog bed in a pet store

Of course, bringing out the best in animal talent requires special methods.. “My equipment all smells like chicken and shrimp because I’m always sprinkling it with treats to get the animals comfortable, “ explains Mark. He also uses light, small-scale gear that can be moved quickly since the window to shoot is small. And, he says, “I always turn off all camera sounds so we don’t get beeps. Dogs and cats do not like beeps.”

A terrier walks the aisles of a pet store happily carrying a purple ball in its mouth

What’s the secret to getting uncooperative talent to perform? “Stay calm and don’t get frustrated,” says Mark. “The animals can sense it. But even when we have budget to bring in professionally trained animals, I always try to have a backup because you never know. It’s trickier with people – if your model turns out to be allergic to the cat, you don’t generally have a backup human at hand.

A pet store check-out clerk smiles at a French Bulldog riding in a cart

Physical fitness, it turns out, is the other secret. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been twisted and stuffed into small spaces to get a shot I want with an animal. I have to keep myself really flexible and in good shape because I always end up propping myself up with one hand and trying to keep the camera steady with the other.”

A woman reads a pet treat bag while her pup appears to do the same

On a recent shoot Mark was trying to get the attention of Piper the French Bulldog, who only had eyes for his human talent pal, Megan. “I really needed the dog to look at me. So we ended up in this bizarre looking position with me between Megan and a shopping cart that probably would not be viewed kindly out of context.”

Photographer Mark Rogers sneaks between human talent, cart and dog to get the shot

Mark has shot for countless pet-centric clients from Iams to Eukanuba, Avoderm to Pet Food Express. But mainstream brands want in on the sales-boosting pet love, too. Union Bank, Chevron and Safeway have all partnered with Mark. You can see more of his adorable, and often funny work here. Or, if you happen to pass by a photo shoot that smells like chicken, stop in and say hello.

French Bulldog stands in cart, smiling at camera