Vermont-based photographer Kelly Schulze has always had an affinity for animals. After majoring in animal science in college, she originally planned to continue to vet school, but instead decided to combine her passion for photography with her love of pets.
“I remember sitting down one night because I was working at a job I really didn’t like, and I was trying to make either a career in animals or photography work,” she says, “And so I googled ‘animal photographer’ and thought: hey, if these people can make it work, so can I.” She now owns a successful studio known as Mountain Dog Photography.
In addition to having a busy schedule of sessions, she and her husband take the time to volunteer at the Humane Society in Burlington, where her Sunset Print Award-winning photograph was taken.
This three-week-old group of bunnies was quite the task to capture; she had to use two assistants to keep them in line. “It was total chaos,” she says, “and it was all happening so fast that I didn’t realize until after that I had a competition image.”
The precious photo of the juvenile bunnies perfectly captures the unique expression and personality in each, something that Schulze is fond of doing. “I can really connect with the animals and make them comfortable,” she says, “I put a lot of effort into getting the different expressions out of them so it doesn’t just look like they’re staring at the camera.”
Her inspiration for her photographs also comes from the whimsicality of each individual animal. Her previous winning image, Hare Apparent, captures the inimitable persona of the rabbit, and her amazing success at these competitions is a statement on the artistry portrayed in these images.
“I am a total print comp junkie,” Schulze says, laughing. She also loves the tangible nature of prints, and believes people have a different – and better – reaction than to a digital image. “I love prints,” she says, “and I love that LexJet is keeping that aspect around.”
Her end-goal is creating an image that, for the pet owners, ‘says everything’ about their furry loved one. “I love what I do,” she says, “I get to work with animals and show off what I love about them… When I can make a client cry, I honestly know I’ve done my job.”