Dogs give us a lot: love, loyalty, a bed partner who (usually) doesn’t steal the sheets. But it’s not a total one-way relationship. They get a lot out of it too–mainly somewhere nice to live.
Of course, some dogs are luckier than others. That’s the case for the subjects of Melbourne-based photographer Nicole England‘s book Resident Dog. Through the project she introduces us to some very lucky dogs who live in some very beautiful homes across Australia.
The result is a fresh take on architectural and interior photography, that manages to not only celebrate beautiful spaces but also comment on how pets bring added warmth into our lives. After all, what’s the point of having a beautiful home if there’s no one to share it with?
Off the Leash: Before we get to the main event, AKA the dogs, can you tell us about your background and what led you to photograph architecture and interiors.
Nicole England: I studied fine arts in New Zealand after finishing school and decided to major in photography. Finishing after four years, I jumped straight into the fashion, advertising, and music industries. I didn’t like those areas very much so gave up photography for a while and went travelling. On my return to Australia I landed a role in the publishing industry working on architectural and interiors magazines in Sydney and Melbourne.
This industry was familiar, as my brother is an architect and my mother is an interior designer. We always talked about architecture around the dinner table. It was only natural after eight years in publishing that I picked up the camera again and started photographing within the industry that I had been working in.
It’s an honour that I never take for granted.
What do you love about architecture photography?
I love the attention to detail when photographing architecture and interiors. I love being able to take the time to compose the image perfectly, watching how the light hits certain objects and bounces off others. It can be a fairly zen experience. I think the people who allow me into their homes, businesses, and visions can feel this too.
When did dogs come into the picture?
Resident Dog started when a friend asked me to describe my perfect work day. My reply included photographing incredible architecture and interiors, in a beautiful location, set on the edge of a forest and in front of the ocean. The sky would be gorgeous blue, with a smattering of clouds, there would be a great crew of people, and of course a dog.
She asked, ‘What’s with the dog?’ And I realised the shoots I enjoyed the most were the ones where dogs were present. So the Resident Dog project was born.
At first it was a fun personal project on Instagram, but then quickly moved onto a more serious book published by Thames & Hudson. I always knew the idea would make a great coffee table book.
The presence of pets give the homes a much more lived-in feel, compared to the stark minimalism you see in a lot of architectural photography. Have you noticed a difference between the homes of people who do and don’t have dogs?
The houses represented in the book are some of the most incredible spaces I’ve had the pleasure to shoot–many of them are the architects own homes. But I felt very relaxed in every house I photographed because of the resident dog, their owners, and perhaps just the way the house was designed. I think it’s a combination of all three.
How much effort went into cleaning fur, hiding ripped toys, and slobbery dog bowls?
Amazingly, there wasn’t much! All of the dogs were very well behaved! Although, perhaps the homeowners hid all of these things before I arrived.
Were there any particularly cheeky dogs or moments on set?
Every dog had a completely unique personality, and every shoot I left with sore cheeks from laughing so much. They’re all hilarious in different ways: from Harry who kept stealing the stylists’ socks and running off, to Reggie who kept humping my leg, to Babe who wouldn’t leave her mothers side long enough for me to take the picture.
Tell us about your relationship to dogs more personally.
We had a dog growing up, a black English Cocker Spaniel. Now I have a part-time dog. Her name is Bella and she’s a cute little white fluff ball who comes over every couple of weeks with my partners’ children. She’s very sweet and kind and playful and we love it when she visits.
Can we expect more Resident Dog projects in the future?
I’ve just launched a website (Nov 2021 update: no more website, but the Instagram lives on) to keep the project going with new Resident Dog each week. You can sign up to receive regular updates. Down the track there may also be another book, or two, so watch this space.
Not done with cute photos of dogs? We can help.