Endearing Animal Portraits By 18 Year Old Photographer Jessica Trinh

Endearing Animal Portraits By 18 Year Old Photographer Jessica Trinh

I love animals and many of us do. They're so expressive and it makes you wonder what they're thinking of. You see the innocence in their eyes and you know it's genuine. Let's not forget to mention their ever ready playful demeanor. When you combine these vibrant attributes with photography, it sets up for some endearing work. Cue in animal photographer, Jessica Trinh. 

When I saw her work for the first time, I was engaged right away and I had to know more. I browsed through her work for what seemed like an hour. At each image, I stopped and imagined the world she created with these animals.

At just 18 years of age, she's managed to shoot pets in a way that captures the mood I see in their eyes. You can't help but gravitate toward her work.

I was fortunate enough to steal some of her time and get inside her world. Check out her work below along with a brief interview with her.

You can also find her work through her website, Facebook, and Flickr accounts. She has more work than we could possibly feature, so do be sure to check them out to see her full body of work! We look forward to see where her future takes her.


Looking from your work, it seems like you've been shooting for a while but you're only 18 years young. How long have you been shooting for and what got you into photography?

I have been shooting since I was 13! I got into photography when my parents got me my first camera. It was a Powershot and I loved it so much!


What inspired you to get into pet photography?

My dogs because I wanted to find a way to take photos AND spend time with them. Pet photography was the best of both worlds.


We've noticed a big part of your work consists of one special golden retriever, is he/she yours?

I have two dogs, Chuppy (the golden retriever) and Daisy (the rescued Australian Shepherd mix). Chuppy was given to me by my parents after our old dog passed away. I have had him ever since he was a puppy and that was near 7 years ago. Daisy was adopted 2 years ago when she was found on the streets. She is my inspiration for my project Let it Rain Love. They both teach me so much and I am thankful for that!


You really bring out a lot of emotion in the animals you shoot, how do you get it out of them?

I let them be as natural as they can be and I make sounds to make them do certain faces! Once they make the face, I QUICKLY act on it and take the photo. It is ALL about timing, I've learned!


They're also quite well behaved from the looks of it. But we all know how energetic dogs can be and getting their attention can be difficult at times. Have you ever had a situation where the dogs were not cooperative with what you were trying to do? How do you get them to follow your lead?

Yes, the hardest dogs to take photos of are shelter dogs. They are scared to begin with and the real goal is to make them feel comfortable. In cases like this, I try to compromise as best as I can. Editing does help a lot as well.


Do you shoot cats and other animals as well or do you specifically shoot dogs?

I take photos of specifically dogs but other animals are definitely on the list!!


Your concepts are so whimsical and fun, how do you come up with the ideas in your photos? 

I come up with my ideas in a variety of ways. Sometimes i am inspired by simple, everyday life stuff. Other times, I drown out my teacher lecturing and I think of ideas intently and usually I have a better time thinking of ideas in class. It is hard to find ideas that work with dogs that are not cliche as well so it is definitely such a challenge!


What type of equipment do you use when you shoot dogs? Is the lighting always ambient light or do you ever use flash with animals? 

I use a Canon 5D Mark 3 and a Canon 50mm f/1.4. I never use flash on dogs (or any animal for that matter) since animals can be easily startled. I always use natural lighting.


What would you recommend to someone who is looking to get into pet photography? What is the biggest thing you wish someone had told you before getting into it?

For anyone that is looking to get into pet photography, i would say to strive to be different. Be true to yourself and discover who you are in photography. To find your style is the most important thing in my book because it basically creates who you are as a photographer. Do not be afraid to be different. I think the biggest thing I wished people would have told me is how addicted I would be in photography! It is such an outlet for me and I get such happy feelings when I hold my camera and edit my photos.


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These photos are amazing

Such young talent! So amazing to see fresh new ideas in the photography world especialy with someone so young. Keep up the great work Jessica!

Wowzerz! Great stuff :)

love it!

oh man, these make me wanna get a dog ssooo baaadd. I miss living with my parents haha beautiful images, both thumbs up for creativity!!!!

18 years old with a 5D mk III? damn.

if someone is talented and appreciates what they have, I have no problem with that.

A good young painter with a nice set of paint brushes. That's how i would see it.

What about all the good young painters who don't get a chance; because they can't afford good paint brushes? She is fortunate, but that doesn't necessarily mean she is bad either.

Seriously, if I were looking for someone else to take photos of my Lab, she's be hired...

I'm glad to see Fstoppers readers are enjoying these, I saw a post about her work on another photo site a little while ago and most readers tore it apart. I like it, it's honest work by a young photographer who's experimenting with the medium and building her talent, you can see her progression by looking through her flickr account (unless she's since deleted her older photos but it was all there before).

whats with the obsession on how young a photographer is? If an 18yo learned to shoot like this in 2 years or a 58yo learned to shoot like this in two years....who cares?

There is something people do not understand. We (young photographers) do not really have the means to purchase photography equipement or organize big photo shoots. I know from my experience that in order for us to have a chance in succeeding, we have not only prove to ourselves that we can do it, as well as keeping our photos creative and be motivated...but also to prove our parents and possible clients (which trust me, do not always think we can be more professional and can deliver better images than our older collegues) that we have potential. Therefore, we start from shooting friends and flowers like anybody else, but the difference is that we need to have flower photos better than the ones already taken, because these are the only images that will make us grow as photographers, no big shoots for us (yet).

Young photographers like myself out there will agree on this, maybe being 58yro and say we have same potential as you do is easy. Truth is you can go and buy a camera without anyone preventing you to. We have either earn all the money in a couple of years or find someone to believe in us and support us. So when someone says "omg, 5D mk. III at 18yrs...." it was most probably was EARNED way harder than a 58yro with a 5D.

So it really is something that people should pay attention to and RESPECT.

Most probably earned by this 18yos rich 58yo dad. Not disrespecting anyone, but when I hear of a 18yo with a 5D3 they most likely havent earned it the hard way.

I shoot alot of dog-pic myself, and cant come close to these pics. At 18 I was shooting with a rebel and a 18-55 kit lens in comparison, and barely afforded my first fullframe (5D2) a couple of months ago, at age 23.

That being said, there is far more to these images than just having a fullframe camera. Composition/light/creativity is what makes these images, not the camera. Anyway, epic shots, cant wait to see more in the future!

I agree, the issue definitely lies with 'fairness' but life isn't fair. Some get more than others - at half the effort (or time). What about artists who know the right people? I think it has a bit of luck to it aswel.

Earning it the hard way is actually making the money, saving it and paying for the gear yourself, so when an 18 year old has a kit worth something around $4,000 then no, it probably wasn't.

Most likely she didn't blow her money on booze. Its not hard to save 4000$ when you live at home

xD pahaha did no one check flickr? She didn't save...as quoted from her post Cheerful "I love this camera to bits and I just love my
parents for giving it to me." As a teen myself I can say all my peers at the college I attend that have these types of camera (mainly canon's) are funded by bank of mum and dad usually. I'm probably an exception but then I only upgraded my Olympus camera to a OM-D because my previous Olympus E-330 was going wrong- it took me just over a year to save up enough working part time every evening : (though having had my previous Olympus for nearly 6 years with constant use I'm not surprised D:). The one other person I have met that's my age with a "Pro" camera they bought themselves was a secondhand D7000- again as with the OM-D that's about £1000/$2000 not $4000...

Not hard to save up the money if you live at home and can save over time without the need/want to buy boose or a mobile phone / car, etc.
But statistically / percentage-wise, it is highly probable that young photogs with fancy gear haven't earn't it themselves. Be real, please.
Anyway, this is a totally different case. If you want to ignore these points why don't you look at the images from a conceptual point of view, less tech. Do you like the work or do you not? is it worthy of critical acclaim, etc...

XD Alex she hardly earned it, it was a "present". And whilst you are correct some of us young photogs earn the hard way a lot don't sadly :( In fact even with my upgraded camera a lot of my peers take the piss and say I'm skint so idk I feel a lot of "young" photog's are just plain spoilt and take things for granted (not saying that about this young photog though- just those I have encountered irl).

I personally don't get the stigma on omo you have a canon therefore...etc not even sure why her kit is mentioned really- end of day her photo's would likely be strong even if they were taken with a very basic camera...bet a lot will disagree with that but it's the photog that makes the picture and maybe the lens glass other than that well it's kinda a load of bull...

Totally agree with what you say, but still not everybody gets to where she got. Looking forward to see more young talents on Fstoppers! xD

Really Ryan? Seriously?

Amazing work!!! Keep it up....happy to see even young photographers (like myself) can get some coverage on big sites like this. :D


I have no idea what you guys are going on about. This looks exactly like a teenagers work.

Talent and hard work are ageless -- great job and happy dogs! I love it. <3

Beautiful work, Jessica Trinh! Keep it up.

Wonderful look through a teen's eye view, and the potential here is limitless. Keep learning and growing! A picture should please the beholder by capturing a moment and re-evoking that moment each time the photo is viewed. Text book, technical perfection is second, and comes with time and experience. Nice work, kid!

Age doesn't matter. This is the result when a photographer is in love with a subject. Great work Jessica!

I don't see the magic. They're pretty good photos, but they get a little corny. I just think of air bud when I see the images with the plane.
The second image in is the most beautiful and successful of the shots, probably because it's least retouched and/or manipulated. I really really enjoy that shot and was hoping to see more done in that fashion when I clicked on the link to get here, but I'm a little let down with the other choices here. They're all pretty vibrant and bright; that's neat.
I'd say she's spent more time in photoshop than shooting the past five years. That's not to say the images look bad. They're nice and appealing to the eye, but they are nothing extraordinary photographically.

You call her images "nothing extraordinary", in other words they are "ordinary" in your view. I disagree completely "ordinary" is just another word for inferior or second rate, at best "ordinary" is average. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ordinary) - first of all, the shots themselves are properly exposed and show creativity and planning. She uses the DoF and perspective creatively together with colors and shapes. Together with this each shot has a message, if it is "corny" to some, then so be it - such is the field of photography. But she is definitely not "average". Go to instagram or flickr and do an image search and you will find truly average or ordinary images. The fact that she has used photoshop to add to her photography shows further creativity, and really, you're just being a negative nancy.

Ordinary is not another word for inferior. Ordinary is another word for average... period.

Why is it even mentioned that the exposures are correct? Ironically, another word for ordinary is "expected"... as I expect a proper exposure, and to give acclaim for such is just setting the bar low.

Average does not entail anything less than wonderful or extraordinary. It's that upper-ish middle area above awful, horrendous, and ugly. That's where this sits.

Like I said before, the images are NOT bad... they're appealing to the eye in different ways, but extraordinary is going too far.

A quote I really enjoy: "Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite."

I posted a link for you to the dictionary definition of the word and you are disputing it. Go figure.

In this post you're just saying the same thing as in your first post which I've already replied to, so further debate is needless.

Regardless of the images, Raul is voicing an opinion. Like it or not he does not agree with you so lay off the defensive attitude. Photography is subjective! Personally speaking, I agree with Raul. These are nice images but they are not exceptional.

He is claiming that the images are average. Yes, that is his opinion, AND it is also a statement that can be verified. If something is "average" there will be several of images in the same category that are superior to it or at the very least similar to it in quality. If he was merely stating an opinion he'd have said: "I don't like it", not liking it and saying it is "ordinary" are two different things. Just like saying "that car is ugly" or "that car is blue" are different things. One is a statement of verifiable fact, the other is an opinion. If you honestly believe that you can have the "opinion" that something is blue, then you are simply wrong.

Saying "that car is blue" is objective. You are right, it is either blue or it isn't. However, art is subjective!! Saying a piece of art is ordinary or extraordinary is based off of personal perspectives and opinions of what denotes both terms to that individual.

No. For something to be ordinary there has to be lots and lots of things like it. For something to be extraordinary there has to be few things like it. Basically if there are a lot of shots just like hers out there, they are ordinary. If there aren't, the shots aren't ordinary.

Yes, but that's based on if you've seen lots and lots of work like this out there. You may have not, I feel that I have. Thus making it an OPINION on wether this is ordinary or extraordinary based on what each of us has seen out there. To me, this is good work, but it's nothing that I haven't already seen in the world of pet photography. To you it may be extraordinary and new. It's a difference of opinions.

*If* you are right. And there actually are lots and lots of shots like hers, then I would be wrong and you would be right. *If* I am right, and there aren't lots and lots of shots like hers, then you would be wrong and I would be right. The whole "feels like" is erroneous and a pretence problem. If there are a thousand shots just like hers out there (on the net) to be seen pretty much everywhere. Then it does not matter what you or I *feel*. Still, you and Raul here are claiming there are lots and lots of shots like hers and the proof is in the pudding. Either you can back that claim or you can't. The burden of proof is with you.

To be honest I don't see anything exceptional about the images showcased here: to me they just look like the usual I'm a teen with a pro canon using photo-shop venture, my whole class of peers at college produce this kinda stuff all the time- literally 50mm f1.4 L series lens stuck on the low f number range using a 5D MII or MIII and lots of photoshop actions casually bunged on top- I have noticed that the "dreamy" effect is rather popular in the canon forums lately, no clue why- that and the overuse of those weird bokeh overlays...usually it's on portraits so I guess that's literally the only difference here in technique post-processing anyway. The girl has got talent and Personally I prefer her more natural looking less "lookie dreamy filter+bokeh" shots in particular images like "Dream", "A Cat At Heart", "simple" and "embracing rain".

I hear a lot of talking and zero amount of showing. Too many pseudo-experts here crying negatively about her work. She's been featured by Pratik Naik on FStoppers who is a definite professional of the industry, so your judgment is most likely off. Apparently he (working for ELLE, Marie Claire, GQ) and a professional of over 10 years thinks that this is extraordinary. You don't like her work, fine. Don't make it any more than that. This "I feel", "ordinary", "18 year with a 5d markiii"-nonsense is a lot of deflated egos and pride.

Dear Tobias,

Have you perused the work of Emily Soto? I believe a lot of my peers use her work as inspiration- this is portraiture of which I was referring too. Soto has kind of moved on slightly from the dreamy fairytale effect now- but when I was initially following her way back in 2010, it didn't seem like the effect was widely used-I now see it everywhere on ads, fashion magazines such as Company.

I'm not hitting the photog if you actually read properly- I prefer her work that holds a more realistic natural effect- I personally don't like the over-edited look and that IS my personal opinion as I stated above. Fine you don't agree but I am allowed to comment and say my views.

The definition of ordinary to me is that I happen to be surrounded by it at college. Maybe it's not as widespread as I feel it is- but pretty certain if you pop into any college's year end exhibitions and look at the photog you'd find one image at least shot like this.

As for the equipment- I merely mentioned that it happens to be a trend if you select those specific cameras images to look at on flickr- no more no less. To me equipment is not the important part- it's the image at the end that is important- SOOC is the best. I most certainly would not want a plastic fantastic canon god knows the issues with them- bits falling off- leaks etc lost count my peers have sent there's to get replaced.
Again that's my personal view- say what you wish but journo's who rave are paid to write the review in favour of a particular company- I should know I did study journalism once...

I know the gal from SoCal, yes. She is a great photographer and visual artist as well, but she isn't in high-school.
I absolutely respect the part of your judgment that is your opinion. The parts that are a matter of objective truth, not so much. I'm getting quite tired of this squabble, really. No artist featured by Fstoppers is ordinary by any definition of the word. That doesn't mean that artists here are above criticism, no one is. I am saying though that you, me and Raul are most likely a bit overconfident in our abilities.

Yes indeed- never said she was lol. Apparently you enjoy reading between the lines. My implication is that a lot of people my age take inspiration from her- a girl in my class does very similar images to the artist featured here- however not a lot of her work is online for me to show you- XD unless I manage to sneak back into college in the middle of the night and go ninja-snapping anyway.

Again it seems you seem to have skim read what I wrote. I like her photo's just not the majority showcased here- again personal choice that I prefer straight out the camera style photography- which inevitably probably links back to my passion of use film- Subtle tweaks are more the style I like so...yeah XD never will I get the dreamy false bokeh thing she added on some of her images- those are the ones to me that feel ordinary- my phone could do that effect using pixlr or some kind of bokeh adding app. That is the one point of critique I wished to give. I otherwise like the lovely sharpness and expressions she captures in her pets- the one with the dog and the fish is the strongest- the plot I feel behind it gives a strong image of a dog thinking it's a cat with it gazing down longingly.

No artist full stop is free from critique on some of there images- more than certainly the likes of Cartier- Bresson, Addams, Bailey, Abbott etc encountered criticism that didn't even explain why (something in which I did) No one person's views are the same otherwise we would surely be clones.

I should say Tobias, that because I criticize her work and others as much as I do, does not mean that I have a higher outlook on my own work.
I am much more critical of my own work than anyone else's. You're not in my circle of friends, classmates and fellow artists, but if you were, you'd know that I have few works that I'm 100% proud of. I've only been shooting for 7 years now, and I personally have a long way to go. Perhaps this will help you take my criticisms as more digestible. To say someone else's work is average is not to say that I believe that my own is always above average.

Jessica is taking photos of pets by translating a simple portrait into an engaging, story telling, image that coaxes a ton of character from the animal while creating frames that are not only very creative but also have very unique perspectives. As far as I am concerned her work is as revolutionary as it is extraordinary.

Revolutionary is quite the stretch. You're talking about this generation of photographers on the whole being marked by a great emphasis on pet pictures... hardly happening.

I don't see a story, so perhaps you can fill me in on the plot here. Forgive my ignorance.

I stumbled upon her Shiba Inu pics a few weeks ago and decided to check out her page. I really enjoy her work. Great job Jessica.

A "professional photographer" once told me that the greatest sign of NOT being a photographer (at all) is when you shoot pets, yours or others. I'm glad to see him confirmed as wrong once again.

Ok, personally I don't like that latter images posted on this post, the second image for me is the strongest, however I took a trip to her website and there's some wonderful shots on there so Kudos to her I say.... and who cares how she got a mk3, she's using it and using well.

Meh!!! These are boring

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