By Eve Becker, TAILS contributor
Pet photographer Seth Casteel enjoys the unexpected. And that’s a good thing, since his photos of dogs—taken as he plays underwater with them—have become a viral overnight success.
Casteel’s underwater photos reveal surprising emotions: a Labrador Retriever menacingly bares his teeth, a Bulldog looks wide-eyed in astonishment, and a Border Collie appears slightly goofy as she dives after a tennis ball. “I’m drawn to the emotions of dogs because they have a similar range of emotions as we do. It’s fun to see the exaggerated expressions from these dogs,” says Casteel, who splits his time between Chicago and Los Angeles.
“My whole thing is that I do what the pets like to do. I don’t put them in the studio. I do it on their terms and embrace what they like to do,” Casteel says.
Casteel first dove into a pool with a dog when he was taking photos of Buster, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Buster jumped into the water and Casteel wanted a better vantage point. So he excused himself from the photo shoot, bought a point-and-shoot underwater camera, and plunged into the pool with Buster.
Casteel started shooting more underwater photos of dogs and eventually splurged to buy an underwater housing for his camera. His friends thought he was crazy.
Fast forward to this past February when his underwater dog photos suddenly exploded online. Fans posted his photos to Reddit.com and Google+ and they literally took off overnight. The next morning, Casteel’s website hits jumped from 200 to 30,000, causing his site to crash.
Since then, Casteel has been running with the big dogs. He signed a book deal with top publishing house Little Brown for a book that will be out late October, featuring his underwater dog photos. He has been featured on CNN World Report, Good Morning America, and in newspapers and magazines across the world from The New York Times to the South China Morning Post and Vanity Fair Italy.
He’s had to turn down private clients through his pet photography company, Little Friends Photo. “I went from not having enough business to having too much business,” he says.