All it takes is one photo to go viral to become a famous internet star. Grace Chon was lucky enough to have had two whole series go viral. The first was called Zoey and Jasper, shot in 2014, which was a collection of photos of her rescue dog Zoey and baby son Jasper. The next series was called HAIRY and was shot in 2016. These were images of dogs before and after they were groomed. It was so popular that there is a book of these images coming out in 2018 with Countryman Press called “Puppy Styled.”
So, once you go viral, what happens? Everybody seems to want you. “My shoot with Chris Pratt was one of my favorites,” says Chon. “He was really nice, down to earth and funny!” But it’s not always so easy. “I once photographed a pair of pugs for Tori Spelling’s reality show, and on camera, sat in a pile of dog poop! Luckily that part didn’t make the cut.”
Chon doesn’t find her job too difficult, although working with shy and abused pets can be challenging because they can be so withdrawn and scared of new people and the camera. “It takes a lot of very calm energy and patience to help them feel confident and comfortable,” she says. “I strive to capture the soul of animals in my work, so the most rewarding thing is when people see my work and feel like they know the animal, even without having met them.”
As does any true pet photographer, Grace draws inspiration from her own two dogs – Maeby, a 13-year-old Whippet/Doberman mix from Mexico and Zoey, an 11-year-old Formosan Mountain dog from Taiwan.
Chon loves the emotional response her clients feel when they view her work – whether they laugh, say “awwww,” get teary or just feel like they know the animal staring back at them. She feels that creating work that makes people feel something is her greatest joy as an artist.
Her work reaches far and wide, and not just in her images. “I’ve had many people reach out to me over the years to share that they’ve been inspired to pursue their own passion by photographing animals as their career,” says Grace. “They range from people who simply start by taking volunteer photos for their local shelter to those that have quit their full-time jobs to pursue photography. My favorite story is a man in Nigeria who reached out to tell me he was inspired to take photos of dogs to show his community what an important role they play in our daily lives.”
If you are a fan, you can check out her books. The first, which came out in 2017, is called “Waggish: Dogs Smiling for Dog Reasons.” It’s an adorable collection of smiling dogs paired with funny captions that explain why they’re smiling. Her next book “Puppy Styled: Japanese Dog Grooming, Before & After,” is coming out in 2018.