In the Moment
A photographer captures the joy of dogs unleashed
Photos by Amanda Jones
The feeling of finally getting out of the crate after a day home alone. Or finally arriving at the beach after a three-hour car ride. The human equivalent might be taking off on a plane for a faraway place you’ve never seen, hitting the open road for a week of exploring, or diving into the ocean for the first swim of the season. A new start, fresh and exciting. Freedom!
These are the sensations I tried to capture in Unleashed—images of sheer, unbridled joy the moment the leash is unhooked from the collar.
This project represents a marked departure from the controlled setting of a studio, a place I had grown accustomed to after 20 years of photographing dogs. No longer was I able to regulate lighting or get the subject perfectly positioned. Gone, too, was the control of external forces like driving rain, falling snow, whistling wind, and distracting sounds.
The absence of a seamless background in an air-conditioned studio revealed a world of intense textures: soft fur against a scrubby background, filtered light peeking from behind the clouds. Wet dogs. Dirty dogs. I loved it.
While photographing dogs across the country, I sometimes slipped out of the studio and captured my subjects in their natural element. Along the way, I kept an eye out for striking locations, vivid colors, and dramatic weather. I also asked locals about their favorite views and dog-friendly places.
With my cameras, some treats, and a ball—always a ball—I headed outside. After choosing my location, I set a physical boundary where I could create the images. Letting the dog run wild and untethered while trying to get them perfectly positioned was the true challenge. The ultimate reward was capturing the dog’s beauty once poised in that ideal spot.
What I found was that from the heavenly Fort Funston in San Francisco to my home hills of Berkshire County, there are endless fantastic outdoor opportunities to get out with your dogs. So what are you waiting for? Now’s the time to hike that new trail together or see what’sdown by the river.
Now’s the time to unhook the leash and go!
— Amanda Jones lives in Williamstown and has worked with dogs for more than two decades. Her images have appeared on a number of book and magazine covers, pet food packages, and hundreds of clients’ walls. She has been featured on “Good Morning America,” The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. This excerpt is the introduction from her sixth and latest book on dog photography, Unleashed (Chronicle Books), which will be unleashed to the public on April 25.
Set against the backdrop of four seasons, the dogs in these images are not holding back. A selection of Berkshire dogs are shown here.
They are, from top to bottom: Sophie, cavalier King Charles spaniel, North Adams; Molly, Australian shepherd, Williamstown; Oscar, Labrador retriever, Williamstown; Clive, bulldog, North Adams; Carsen, golden retriever, North Adams; and Benny, dachshund, Williams-town.
As Jones puts it, “This is a celebration of dogs and their contagious ability to have fun and live in the moment.”
Amanda Jones will hold a talk at 4 p.m. Sunday, April 30, at Shaker Dam Coffeehouse & Stanmeyer Gallery in West Stockbridge, hosted by Berkshire Photo Gathering and Berkshire Magazine.