You’ve probably seen photographer Seth Casteel’s photos of dogs diving under water. They charmed everyone when they went viral in February.But there’s more to the story than just a bunch of random photos getting dumped on Reddit.
In fact, the diving dogs took 15 years to become an overnight success.
And since February, they’ve gotten ad contracts and a book deal.
Here’s how it happened.
It started in 1997, when Jill Reger — an advertising photographer by trade — began experimenting underwater with black-and-white film that shoots in infra-red.
When the film is processed through blue and yellow sepia toners, it produces these amazingly deep colours.
It was the era before the internet became universal in the U.S. Most of the pictures were never seen by anyone except Reger.
Fast-forward to 2011. Freelance photographer Seth Casteel was trying to make a living as a pet and commercial photographer.
On October 13, Casteel posted three pictures of dogs diving into backyard pools on a Facebook page. The images were interesting but not great. Here's one:
On Oct. 14, 2011, Casteel posted this photo on Facebook. It was the first one he published that truly revealed the bewitching intensity of a dog trying to find a tennis ball in a swimming pool.
On Feb. 9, 2012, an art web site called Warholian posted a set of Casteel's photos on its Facebook page, including this incredible image:
And then suddenly they were everywhere. A gallery published with Casteel's permission on Feb. 15 got half a million pageviews on Business Insider.
Casteel is represented by Tandem Stills + Motion, which has tried to enforce Casteel's copyrights to the work.
The photos were so popular, Casteel got more than 1,000 requests from people who wanted him to shoot their pets.
Casteel contracted with Y&R Saõ Paulo to do an ad campaign. In early June, the dogs starred in ads for Cepêra Extra Strong Pepper Sauce.
Casteel's images were such a huge hit, we asked Reger to go back to her storage unit and develop all the original diving dog images she had, like this one.
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