Questions for Diana Jill Mehner

When did you start your photography?

 

Photography has been a part of my life since childhood. Even before I received my first compact camera for my 8th birthday, I was allowed to take pictures with my parents’ camera from time to time. I took pictures of almost everything that came in front of my lens – flowers, animals, landscapes – plus, special moments on trips with my class as well as everyday situations.

 

Over the years, photography was always a constant in my life – sometimes playing a major role in it, sometimes less. Over time, my desire to work as a photographer became clearer to me. Nevertheless, I started an apprenticeship as a technical system planner, because my father thought that I should “learn something sensible.” But after a little more than a year, it became clear that photography was my calling, so I quit the apprenticeship and started studying to become a professional photographer, completing my courses at the top of my class.

 

Thanks to my focus on product and advertising photography, I was exposed to and got to learn many different aspects of imaging. It became clear to me that I liked “live models” best. I broadened my education by attending a variety of workshops and training courses in addition to my photo apprenticeship, creating my own projects to discover which area of photography I felt most at home with.

 

 

Is photography your hobby or your profession?

 

I have been working as a full-time, professional photographer since 2015. Even while I was studying photography, I knew I wanted to start my own business in order to express my own creative style.

 

How and where was the image you submitted for the competition taken? Is there a story about it?

 

This picture was created specifically for this competition. For me, dogs bring an incredible amount of color (and cheerfulness) into my life, so that became my main subject matter, and color itself had to play a big role in the creation of this image, as well.

 

In 2019 in Berlin there was an art installation “Colormaze” by the artists Thomas Granseuer and Tomislav Topic (known as “Quintessenz”). The installation included wooden planks painted in different colors, which were joined together to form geometric shapes. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to see this installation in person, but it captured my attention on social media. The colors and the way they were combined really impressed me at the time.

 

This installation remained in my mind, when, again, I came across another colorful installation based on wood and different colors, called “Way Off”, shown here in this photo. The piece was created by artist Darko C. Nikolic and was exhibited for a limited time in Hamburg. This sparked my idea for the photo contest, so I contacted the artist to find out if he would allow me to go “inside” his artwork, photograph a dog, and use the images. I took a variety of photos (still waiting to be edited), but one picture stood out to me immediately: a dog in the middle of a sea of colors. The viewer can imagine just how long this “rainbow path” might be and wonder what is hidden around the next corner.

 

On the one hand, this picture is so colorful and reminiscent of rainbows -a symbol of the joy that our dogs bring into our lives. Yet on the other hand, it also reminds we dog owners that time with our four-legged friends is brief and to be cherished, since they will each cross the “rainbow-bridge,” someday.

 

 

Who and/or what inspires you most?

 

Most of the time the dogs inspire me, because each dog has its own personality and certain breeds have specific character traits. If the owner wants those characteristics to be highlighted, I’ll include them in the picture.

 

Of course, I am also inspired by social media – sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. I’m particularly inspired by pictures that show dogs in the city or in rather unusual places, since dogs are usually associated with photos in nature. When a dog is part of any landscape, I am inspired every single time, since I like to try out new settings.

 

 

From time to time, I also like to be working with a flash outside. My inspiration comes from the photographers Kaylee Greer from the US and Cat Race from the UK.

 


 
 

 

What’s your photographic focus?

 

Since I started studying photography, my focus has changed a bit. Starting out, I tried many different photographic genres and enjoyed photographing weddings and couples. But there was one subject matter that was always special to me from the very beginning: dogs.

 

Since 2018, my professional focus is now completely on dog photography. Dogs behave authentically and immediately demonstrate whether or not they like you. That makes working with them so exciting and always presents you with new challenges and opportunities. Interestingly, I began my work photographing dogs before I ever even had a dog of my own.

 

 

What’s your next photo project, your next challenge?

 

I have a variety of ideas, just waiting to become photographic projects! I’d like to continue to explore my work in outdoor settings as well as projects based on my dog portraits created in my mobile studio, focusing on special facial expressions and colorful background treatments. I’d also like to portray some of the dogs in my district and show them in connection with sights typical for this region.

 

Another project I’m focused on is my “Favorite Dogs Calendar,” which I have created for several years in a row, now. I always donate part of my earnings from the sales of these calendars to animal welfare organizations. I encourage my followers to send me suggestions on which animal charities to support. I’m now also getting the community to participate in which pictures to include in the calendar. In the future, I’ll create a calendar that focuses on one of my photo projects, but I haven’t decided which one yet.

 

Do you include color management in your photographic workflow?

 

Since everything I do revolves around “hands-on dog photography” (i.e., visually bringing images of the dogs to life) color management plays a very important role.

 

To me, it’s very important that dog owners not only have a wonderful experience throughout the photo shoot with their dearest four-legged friend, but that they’ll also take home wonderful photos from this experience that they’ll enjoy for years to come. I want to leave them with high-quality wall images or special prints that make them relive these moments, vividly, when looking at them. So, naturally, it is very important that the printed images printed show the colors as I have processed them.

 

More about SpyderX Pro

 

What do you do with your photos? Do you print them, post them on your social media accounts or your website or do they simply stay on your hard drive?

 

By integrating photo products into my dog photography, I am lucky that my photos are allowed to leave the hard drive. They make the dog owners smile every day, when they walk through their homes and see those pictures.

 

I have many pictures of “my dogs” hanging on the walls of my home studio, too, that fill me with joy when I look at them. Of course, I have pictures of our own dog in our apartment, along with special personal moments I’ve captured and landscape photos from our travels.

 

A lot of my work is shown on social media and my website so other dog owners can enjoy these images and see all the wonderful photographic options available to them if they’d like a portrait of their own dog. I also offer many of my photos through animal photo archives, where they can be purchased.

 

The photos of our trips, which I consider more of a photographic hobby, are published on our travel accounts on social media and included in our travel vlogs on YouTube.

 

 

What’s your photographic goal? What do you dream of?

 

An absolute dream of mine would be to publish a book/coffee table book. Creating a reportage about street dogs (of the world) is also a project I’d like to complete one day.

 

Although I already share my knowledge through coaching and video training, I still dream of a photography trip. I would like to travel with other dog photography enthusiasts to a special place in the world to photograph dogs together and share my knowledge. I have our own dog Leia, as my personal model for travel shoots, and having already had the chance to photograph several dogs in Cape Town, the different landscapes and the different light fascinate me very much.

 

Learn more Buy Now

 
 

About the Author – Diana Jill Mehner

 

Professional photographer, Diana Jill Mehner, born in 1991 in Gütersloh/Germany, is passionate about her craft. After having worked in different genres of photography, her heart settled on photographing dogs.

 

Diana, currently lives in the Prignitz, the most sparsely populated district in Germany, where there are many opportunities to photograph dogs in nature. In addition to having their dogs photographed in beautiful outdoor surroundings, owners can also choose to take their four-legged family members to Diana’s mobile studio for professional portraits that are both colorful and fun. Diana’s photography has taken her all over the world, photographing dogs in Austria and the Netherlands as well as along the beaches of Cape Town in Africa.

 

In her spare time, Diana Mehner loves to discover Germany and Europe with her husband Hauke and her dog Leia in her VW Campervan "Wiggo", where her camera is, of course, always with her.