“It’s always been fun to get them to stay still while they look at the camera. Always a challenge we’re ready for,” Jose Soares says of his winning shot
Herding cats is hard, but getting dozens of smiling dogs to sit still for one photo might be more challenging.
Luckily, a professional canine wrangler was on-hand to snap the grand prize-winning photo for Nexdoor’s 2023 #LoveYourNeighborhood Photography Competition.
Users of the neighborhood network Nextdoor submitted over 35,000 photos into the contest’s five categories: #NeighborhoodCreatures, #NeighborhoodsEverywhere, #NeighborhoodFans, #NeighborhoodFaves, and #NeighborhoodGems.
Jose Soares’s photo of more than 30 dogs enjoying a birthday party at Woof Pack — Soares’s dog training and boarding business in Miami — first won the #NeighborhoodCreatures category before taking the photo competition’s top prize.
While getting a shot like this would be impossible without Photoshop for many pet owners, Soares is comfortable orchestrating his canine clients for class photos.
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“We’ve been doing group photos for years now. We love working with the pack, and it’s always been fun to get them to stay still while they look at the camera. Always a challenge we’re ready for – the owners love it!” Soares tells PEOPLE about his dog group photo experience.
The trainer works with Sandra Alvarez, his life partner and the co-owner of Woof Pack, to compose each group photo.
“Normally, one of us holds the pack while the other one sits one by one, and after everyone is in position, we snap the picture. Not all of them have done training, so sometimes it takes longer because they are unable to stay still , so being patient is key!” Soares says.
Soares’s contest-winning shot occurred during Buoy the dog’s birthday bash, which also included treats, a splash pad, fetch games, and a little “sit and stay” training to practice for the photo.
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Even with his expertise, Soares rarely gets the perfect shot on the first try. For the photo of Buoy’s birthday, Soares took 18 pictures before landing on the sweet image he sent into the competition.
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Along with patience, Soares emphasizes playfulness and connection as the secret ingredients to get a great photo of your dog.
“The most important thing is to create a bond with your dog, dedicate time to training, and don’t be afraid of making a clown of yourself while trying to get their attention,” he says.
For more information about the #LoveYourNeighborhood contest and winners, visit nextdoor.com/LYN.
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