Canine Candid Camera

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This month, Fashion Island is going to the dogs – and the folks at Muttropolis wouldn’t have it any other way.

On Saturday, Nov. 24, from noon to 3 p.m., famed photographer Seth Casteel will be at the upscale purveyor of all things pet to sign copies of his New York Times best-selling book, “Underwater Dogs.”

The renowned pet photographer, shares with us, in this aptly titled book, his series of underwater dog portraits. O magazine said, “The arresting portraits in Seth Casteel’s ‘Underwater Dogs’ reveal what’s happening below the surface. Teeth gnashing, paws paddling, primal and hilarious, these canines bubble with irresistible energy.”

Casteel has built his reputation by specializing in lifestyle pet photography. No more pictures of dogs perched on oversized floor pillows, his photos say. Instead, he focuses on capturing pets in their natural surroundings, showcasing the unique personality and vibe each pet possesses.

It’s exactly that unique dog-ness that Casteel manages to capture in his new book. In fact, Entertainment Weekly’s Shelf life said of the photos, “The gorgeous, energetic snapshots are special in that they capture our pets in a primal state we rarely get to see,” and lauds him as “one of this country’s premier pet photographers.”

While all these accolades could go to his head, Casteel remains grounded, and remembers what is really important to him. Although it is true that he makes his living snapping photos of pampered pooches and finicky felines, he also gives back to the animal community by photographing shelter animals to help facilitate their adoptions.

Casteel feels that every animal deserves a forever home, and has been volunteering since 2007 in animal shelters across the United States, and in Australia, Indonesia, Austria, and the United Kingdom. He has personally photographed thousands of dogs and cats, and through his foundation, Second Chance Photos, aims to educate shelter workers on how to best capture the animals’ personalities in their adoption photos.

As part of the intake process, all animals brought to a shelter are photographed. As you might imagine, this time in a pet’s life is chaotic and stressful, and quite often, their fear and nervousness shine through in these photos, making them at times seem unfriendly or sad.  Casteel hopes that by snapping shots that capture the personality of the animals, and teaching others to do the same, he will be able to assist fellow animal lovers in helping animals through photography.

Good-heartedness aside, his photos also make for one great book. The myriad photos of our four-legged friends diving, splashing, and retrieving tennis balls can’t help but put a smile on your face, and if there are any dog lovers on your gift list this year, I think you may need to look no further for that perfect little something. There is even an “Underwater Dogs” companion calendar for 2013 – check and check!

Canine friends, as always, are welcome at Muttropolis too, so once you wake up from your turkey and Black Friday induced coma, why not leash up Fido, and head to Newport Center to walk off a few of those extra holiday pounds. Maybe you can even book your own photo session – after all, Christmas card time is right around the corner.

For more information about Seth Casteel or Second Chance Photos, visit  For more information about Muttropolis or the event, visit or call 949-717-MUTT.


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