Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Pooches and pinot: Book captures love of dog photography and Okanagan wine

Coffee table book showcases vineyard-roaming dogs of B.C.

Aliki Salmas combined her love of wine and dogs for her latest photographic project, Vineyard Dogs of the Okanagan.

The NAIT alum (Photographic Technology, ‘88) specializes in photographing kids and dogs and had the unique book idea fermenting in her head for the past decade, after seeing a similar book while visiting California’s Napa Valley.

Okanagan wine dog photography“The Okanagan wine industry is just exploding,” says Salmas, a Vancouver-based photographer. “It just seemed like a perfect time to do a book like this.” She used to work in the hospitality industry and knew several vineyard owners in the area who had dogs.

While the book she leafed through in Napa included images from many photographers, Vineyard Dogs of the Okanagan is all Salmas’ photography, combined with the poetry and prose of collaborator, Christian Hannigan, also from Vancouver. The book was released last August and is available at many B.C. wineries and online.

26 Okanagan wineries featured

The four-year project included shoots at 26 different wineries throughout the Okanagan. Salmas’ main criteria were that all the dogs photographed be part of a working winery, shot on location. The book includes photos of dogs in the tasting room, barrel room, on tractors and in the field. “We tried to mix it up,” she says.

Salmas enjoys photographing dogs for much the same reason she loves photographing children. “They’re their true selves, they don’t put on airs. They’re fun and happy to be themselves and be in the moment.”

While she’s been told dogs and children are the hardest subjects to photograph, she disagrees. “You just have to have the right equipment and be willing to lay in the dirt a lot.” 

Tips for photographing dogs (and kids)

  • Get down – Shoot from the same level as your subject, be it dog or child.
  • Get their attention – For dogs, that means squeaky toys, treats or making funny noises. “You can buy squeakies on their own. I have so many of them in my camera bag, and they all sound different.”
  • Have a good light source – Ideally, natural light. If you’re indoors, shoot near a window with the dog looking toward the light. “Lighting is huge – you don’t want a dog with dead-looking eyes.”
  • Use a fast lens – A lens with a larger maximum aperture will help you capture active dogs quickly by getting the same exposure with a faster shutter speed.
  • Give them space – “You need to let them be, then come back to them,” she says. Don’t force them to sit still.
  • Be flexible – “Go with the flow,” Salmas explains. “You may not get the shot you thought you would, but you’ll always get great shots.”

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