WORDS BY Amy Freeborn
Games of fetch between Canadian Andrew Knapp and 5-year-old Momo have led to digital fame and artistic acclaim through Knapp’s series of photos of the border collie waiting, as if hiding, to retrieve a thrown stick. We chat to the “accidental” photographer about how all got started and the unexpected public’s response, whilst getting some tips along the way.
When and how did the photo series start? And when did you realise that it was worth a series?
Instagram made it easy to share, the iPhone made it easy to have a camera ready to take photos. All while these stars were aligning, Momo started showing his border collie characteristics. They’re very neurotic, and very repetitive. He did the same thing every time I was about to throw a stick for him: he ran off to wait for me to throw it just about where he estimated I would throw it to. He does this so well he almost looks like he’s hiding! So, naturally, I started photographing him and sharing it.
Do you specifically scout out locations, or is it a case of keeping an eye out for scenes to photograph while out on walks, etc?
Always keep an eye open. I find if I look too hard, it doesn’t work.
How far have you travelled to take a photo? Any particular highlights?
I took a road trip around New England with my friend Zach, it was mainly to collect photos of Momo for a looming book project. There were countless highlights along the way. One worth mentioning was being way off the side roads somewhere in rural New York State, meeting a big family who were camping on the property, and staying on their lot for the night. We kept warm around a fire, shared stories, and shared beers.
How hard, or easy, is it to get Momo to stay still and hold a pose?
Very easy. Momo makes sit-and-stay look like a life-long honed skill.
Did you expect such a reaction from the public?
I definitely didn’t expect the reaction, it has been a ride. I get so many positive messages every day it really keeps me stoked to have one more reason to hang out with my dog.
How are print sales from the series going?
Print sales were put up due to popular request, so they really weren’t anything I expected much from, and I got just that, but it’s great to know that some people have purchased and cherish these photos of my best buddy hiding! It’s exciting!
What advice/tips/tricks can you offer to people wanting to photograph their own dogs?
Be patient, not controlling! Let the picture happen rather than trying to take it. Get to the ground so that you’re almost pointing up at the dog. Magic hour is key, and in this case, so is a pocket full of treats.
Momo is not the only dog to enjoy internet celebrity (Maddie the coonhound, Norm the pug…) What is about dog photo series that capture the public’s attention and hearts?
It’s something about animals in particular, I think. Their innocent disposition, their humility, their honestly. If you have a person doing all these things, you attach their ego to the photo. You don’t get that with dogs, their facial expression is as honest as the day is long.
And finally, does Momo know he’s famous, and how do you think he feels about that?
All he knows is that he gets a lot of love from a lot of strangers. And I love it too, everyone is excited to see Momo and really needs to stop and pet him. It’s great. He’s a really special dog, and I deep down always hoped that I could find a way to share his incredible disposition with more people!
All images courtesy of Andrew Knapp
Have fun finding Momo in the most unexpected spots here
To buy prints, click here
Tags Andrew Knapp, Book, Border Collie, Collection, Culture, Editorial, Finding Momo, Gifts, Momo, Personal, Photography