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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Previous comments

We do lol. Are you not checking flickr properly?

Matthew McCord's picture

Not loving the composites at all, but I'm glad she's out there creating images at 18. I wish I would have started that young, but I'm no old man either. I'm not ragging on her work by any means. The photos I do on my dog just have a much different feel to them. I try to move away from the cutesy look and strive to create a look that highlights my dog's loyalty, honor, and playfulness. I try to create images of him that make him look almost heroic. Kudos to her, though. I would kill to have my work on fstoppers.

These are beautiful. Fantastic job Jessica!


She is an 18 year-old photographer doing what she loves and doing it well. If you don't like it, kudos to you. I for one as a 20 year-old photog am inspired by these to get out and be a bit more creative with my work. So all the shots are shallow DOF? Great! That's how she likes to shoot. Who the heck cares if it's a common style? It's her style and she pulls it off fantastically.

I guess the definition of "great work" is whether she is getting a lot of work, she lives up to your standards, she outdoes some other photographer, or she had to work hard for her gear. I applaud her for taking FULL ADVANTAGE of what she has been given and using it consistently and learning and growing in her hobby. Spoiled is when someone is given something great and treat it like trash. Doesn't seem like she takes her gifts for granted by these shots.

Good for you, but many people get things for free and bypass all the hard work. People are assuming this is the case of Jessica

How do you know he was making money off his celeb shots at that age? I reckon he knew people who let him in the door to get some good work exp and make a name for himself. His dad was in the print industry anyway so he probably got a lot of pointers; photogs being clients of his dads that is. He was however producing work for bands at a very young age though (even if only local) so I think he is a good example of what young people can do

I don't know exactly how much he was making, no. But I've seen pretty much every DVD he has released and have read about a lot of his work. I just look at the clients he had back then, the skills he had and added 1+1.

Why is everyone here arguing over whether or not she earned her camera or bought it or what camera it is or what age she is or whatever? THAT is not the point. The point is that this girl was able to create images that are emotive, original, artistic, beautiful and downright cool in my book. Whether or not you like them, or her, or her camera the point is that her pictures are the ones being passed around the internet and posted on this blog, not yours, so regardless of what she shoots on or how she got it these images are amazing. I would be honored to be featured here, and I'm sure most of you would too.

I am 19 years old, I am a photography student and a starving college kid and I shoot on a Nikon D90. I have an 85 1.4 lens, among others. Some I got because I worked hard to buy it, others were given to me as a gift. I find it personally offensive that the photographers of this community would rather critique the tools that this, or any growing photographer, uses rather than appreciate the art that has been created by it. If anything, I think that you're all trying to compensate for your lack of creativity and drive by degrading this girls work in this way and I wont just sit here and let it happen.

There is a difference between an honest, valuable critique and what us youth of the web call "trolling" and the comments I just read are just that. Jessica, if you're reading this, I love your work and completely support you and other rising artists because I am one myself. Keep shooting what you love, keep being original, and ignore everyone else.


Raul Moreno Jr.'s picture

When I was 18, I wasn't so concerned with photography for more than taking pictures of my friends when we'd all hang out, so I could post them to myspace.

Tobias, you're getting way too personal with cheap shots like that...
and this isn't even your own work. There's no need at all for a comment like "because you couldn't..." You're just being personally rude with absolutely no basis or reason. What's that all about?

It's not a cheap shot, it's nothing personal. It is all about the work. Joey was featured on the net when he was 18. He made a brand for himself. Jessica is too. This is not my own work, true, but I am against the envy-ridden whining that hard working photographers (young and old) that are successful have to deal with. I bet you can't even admit it to yourself that most of the reason you are complaining about her work (or how she got her camera, how the hell is that even relevant) is a lot of ego.

Hey guys... I'm her 31 yr old cousin and I've known Jessica for her entire life. I just wanted to give you all a little input on her camera since it seems to be such a crazy topic that so many of you are fixated on. The 5D Mark 3 camera was a gift from her parents to her once they saw how serious she was about her hobby.

When she first picked up a camera when she was super young and as she grew older she received her first DSLR. Growing up in an asian household as a child, we were not allowed to get jobs that pay us (ie no working at mcdonalds, etc.) in high school. In our parents eyes, we had one job. And that was to study and get good grades. For her and her parents, photography was never intended as a job, nor did her parents just go out and buy her $4,000 in equipment on a whim. She had to prove not only that she was maintaining her grades and studying, but also that she was serious in her craft.

As far as i am concerned, she earned it. IMO, if you have been following her flicker for the last few years you can see that she most certainly has earned it. She may not have bought it herself, but she worked her butt off. Her parents acknowledged that passion and creativety and decided to buy her the 5D. They are by no means rich. They are a middle-class family living in orange county. Strangely as it may seem, she doesn't consider photography work, which is why she's able to have built such a large portfolio as an 18 yr old. Whenever she has a chance, she is out there with her camera, snapping shots.

Paul!!! This girl is your cousin!!! crazy, Jessica was all over photoblogs for a minute (and of course the photo-sharing networks)

Yeah... pretty crazy... :)... When she was 6 I asked her what she wanted to be, and she said, "I want to be a veterinarian." It's no surprise that the subjects she has chosen are dogs ahah.

Before Chuppy (her golden retriever), her family had another Chow Chow, also named Chuppy, to act as a guard dog. I remember when they got "Chuppy" the golden, and I was like... uhmmm not a very good guard dog ahha.. Then they all laughed and said, Yeah, chuppy's a friend with everyone. We joke that if someone were to rob their house, Chuppy would give robber the keys to the house and direct him/her to where the valuables were.

So. Cute. I have a golden retriever and they are the BEST dogs ever. Love these. :')

It is so funny how most people latch onto which camera she is using, and, how it is so unfair that she got a very expensive camera at age 18! WTF people! Yeah, someone's circumstances are better than yours. Yes maybe her parents helped her to get the 5D, but don't you think, based just on the selection of pictures we see here, that maybe just maybe she deserved it? She showed passion and persistence and people pick up on that.

You can't change your own history. You have to deal with what you have today. I know a very popular, upper class wedding photographer in my city who is booked a year in advance, does 3 to 4 weddings a week, who, until three years ago shot with a Panasonic FZ something, now she shoots with a Canon 550D - and believe me, with her prices, she most definitely can afford three 5D's.

Instead of focusing on her gear, and how young she is to have the gear she has now, be inspired by what she has achieved. I challenge you to take the same photographs with the same emotion of the same subject matter using your 5D or whatever other high priced piece of gear you have or would like which you think helps you capture an emotion. There is SO much more to photography than the camera you use.

Such a shame Chuppy died :(

Joseph Parry's picture

I'm so ashamed of the level of negativity in here, it's unreal. Who the fuck actually cares what camera she's using our how she got it? It's a tool for creative outlet and her images are fantastic imo. Most of you bashing this don't even have images of a similar standard on your profiles here imo.

When the hell can we stop looking at each other down the barrel of a gun and just celebrate talent and hardworking people?

What's wrong with saying "great job kid! Keep it up!" is being kind or critical without being blunt / negative to hard these days?

Jealousy is a vile thing.