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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Raul Moreno Jr.'s picture

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.

Raul Moreno Jr.'s picture

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.

Raul Moreno Jr.'s picture

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.

James Tarry's picture

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.

Tyler Brown's picture

Meh!!! These are boring

Tyler Brown's picture

I looked through here flickr feed. Almost all these shot are of the same dog. I don't think she is actually getting much work as a Dog Photographer. These are the typical cliche style shot it with a 5D mark II or III wide open for stupid shallow DOF. God I'll be glad when this trend is over.

If you actually looked through her flickr, you would realize that all but the most recent (19 images) were shot with cameras other than the 5D3.

She started with an XTi, then 40D, then 7D before recently getting a 5D3.

it's more the lens than the body- pretty certain some of the "lower" range canon's allow the f1.4 L lens on them as a lot of my peers use it constantly. I don't see the appeal- but that might just be because I'm not fond of the canon bokeh- seems a bit rugged when you compare it to a old zeiss legacy lens. I'm the minority though lol~~

Zach Ashcraft's picture

Let us know when FStoppers starts posting your work

She's 18, ya putz.

She's probably applying to colleges, not looking to become the next William Wegman at the moment.

(Nice forensic work on an 18 year-old's flickr account, though).

Why don't you post some of your REALLY DEEP DOF stuff, then we'll compare?

She has a lot of time if that is the case. I study photography full time at college at the moment and I most certainly don't have the time to shoot a 52 weeks project- especially not with that amount of editing anyway...

I agree it's cliched- my whole college classes public exhibition has a tonne of these -_- it seems everyone loves to use the f1.4 L lens for everything even landscapes...Ironically whilst they have the kit- they aren't getting the grades...

Dale Antony Richards's picture

18yo takes photo's of pets? This is going to be shhh... OH MY!!!

Goodness. This may be presumptuous, but I wish my mom and dad bought ME a 5D Mark III (or maybe just a bike?) when I was in high school. Your parents are f-ing awesome, Jessica.

That said, this young photographer does some legitimately beautiful post-processing work, which is more than I can say for most people twice her age.

Nice work, youngsta! You got mad skills!

Parents that believe in and support the abilities of their children are parents who do not end up alone without visitations in homes for the elderly. With that said, we know nothing about how she managed to buy her camera.

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