Q&A with Our Pet Guide Cover Photographer Katelin Journigan

Katelin Journigan with her silver Labrador retriever, Captain.

The Costa Mesa-based photographer talks about how her pet photography business The Salty Dog Studio got its start and what it was like to capture the adorable shots for our Pet Guide this month.

Tell us about your background.

I have been a wedding photographer and owner of Katelin Wallace Photography for 8 years now. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts at the University of Arizona, I pursed internships under different kinds of photographers. I fell in love with the wedding photography industry and launched my business right away.

When did you transition to pet photography? 

My three-year-old dog, Captain, was much of my inspiration! He is a silver Labrador retriever. After I first got him, I was posting so many photos of him that my wedding and family clients actually asked me to offer some dog photo sessions! One thing led to another and The Salty Dog Studio was born.

Why did you decide to open The Salty Dog Studio in Costa Mesa?

When I really decided that I loved a simple, gray, clean studio look, I realized I needed a consistent space for dogs and their humans to come in for their photoshoots. Costa Mesa is where I live and is central to many of my clients. My studio is attached to Penny’s Pupwash off the popular 17th St. I also love shooting families and pets on location, so we offer that as well!

What’s your favorite thing about being based in Orange County?

I grew up in Orange County in Villa Park and have now lived in Costa Mesa for 8 years. I love Orange County and the laid back beach culture here. Orange County is filled with tons of pet owners, especially dog owners. It is the ultimate location for me and the studio!

What is the range of pets you’ve photographed?

I mostly photograph dogs but I welcome all kinds of pet animals! I have photographed many kinds including dogs, cats, horses, pigs, birds—you name it!

What is the best part of photographing pets?

I have been the ultimate pet lover from a very young age. I love that pets offer different personalities. They are truly a man’s best friend … always there to love you, listen to you, get you out of the house, and adventure with you! They offer wisdom, laughter, and a new perspective of the world for us humans.

Can you share any interesting stories on set?

Well, there are many funny mishaps that come with photographing pets including: happy dogs tearing the backdrops down with their excited tails, too many bathroom accidents to count, and lots of drool. My favorite part of the shoot is at the end when we offer peanut butter and we get all of the funny “tongue out Tuesday” shots for our Instagram. Our outtakes are a thrill as well! We post those every Friday to ensure some good smiles and laughs.

What was it like to work on our O.C. Pet Guide this month?

It was amazing being able to photograph the people and pets in this month’s article.  I was truly touched by what the Zen Zoo does and how they provide to the community.  It was an honor to be a part of the February issue.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

Clean, modern, and timeless. We want your pet’s picture to be on the wall and represent their personality in one photo.

You describe your work as “art pieces.” Can you describe what you put into your work that makes it more than just a snapshot?

The process of photographing a pet is quite hard and it is my job to draw out their personalities and capture a genuine representation of what they mean to you. We don’t want art to live digitally; we want to see your pet’s portrait up on the wall printed large with the rest of the family pictures. Some of our most popular art pieces are prints on wood and canvas.

What are your plans for the future?

I see The Salty Dog Studio continuing to capture the personalities of Orange County’s pets as well as traveling to other cities and offering pop-up studios. I also foresee an amazing coffee table book in the near future as well!

See more of her work here. Instagram: @the_salty_dog_studio

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