Seth Casteel isn't afraid to dive headfirst into his passion. A self-taught photographer who splits his time between New York City and Venice Beach, Los Angeles, he's made his name taking action-filled shots of dogs under water.
An award-winning photographer, a New York Times best-selling author for his photography book Underwater Dogs, and Z Living's newest show host, Casteel helps aspiring dog owners find their ideal pup in the heart-warming new show, Finding Fido (premiering January 7, 2017 on Z Living).
Casteel recently took the time to answer questions about his work, the show, and his love of dogs (and cats, too!).
Q&A With Finding Fido Host Seth Casteel
Do you own a dog? Tell us about it.
"Nala is my little fuffball! She is a 10-year-old poodle-mix that I adopted 9 years ago from an animal shelter in Orange County, California. It had been years since I had a dog in my life and I had nearly forgotten what it was like, but once I picked her up, the feeling of having a dog as your friend and as your family, immediately came back. And it's an incredible feeling!"
How do you find the dogs you work with on Finding Fido?
"The dogs I work with on the show are adoptable dogs from local animal shelters and rescues. So many people understand how awesome shelter dogs are, yet I still meet people every day that don't quite get it."
"Some folks think shelter dogs are not fit for families, due to behavioral or health concerns. The truth is, shelter dogs are the absolute best dogs you'll meet. These are dogs that have been dealt a rough hand, and have been cared for by humans that may not have been the most responsible."
"Anyone out there who has had a shelter dog in their life will tell you that he or she appreciates that second chance, that new opportunity to be happy. One of the greatest characteristics of dogs is that they forgive. I've worked on so many projects with shelter dogs!"
How did you get into photography to begin with, and when did you decide you wanted to work with dogs?
I actually got into photography because of cats.
I was working at a movie studio and some friends were helping take care of the community cats living on the lot. One day, they found a litter of kittens, so I suggested that we do a photo shoot to get them adopted. We snuck the little rascals into an executive's office while he was out to lunch, and snapped some candid shots of the kittens hopping around on the furniture.
24 hours later, they were all adopted! It was then that I realized the power of photography, so I began volunteering at animal shelters in California, then across the United States, then around the world.
Also on Z Living: Get Ready For 'Finding Fido' On Z Living
When did things move under water?
I was photographing a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Buster back in 2010. The photo shoot was meant to be on land, but Buster decided he would rather play in the pool. As I watched him dive in over and over again chasing his favorite mini tennis ball, I thought, "What does he look like under there?"
I left, bought a little point-and-shoot underwater camera, zipped back and jumped in. The resulting photos were the beginning of the series of underwater dogs.
When did your style of photography click? What makes a great photograph?
I feel that my style of photography clicked the day those kittens got adopted. It's the best tool I know how to use that can tell a story, make someone smile, and to make a difference. To me, a great photograph will stir you, and create a reaction in you — probably something that you wil never forget.
I understand you're a self-taught photographer. What are some tips for folks interested in picking up photography as a hobby?
Care about what you are taking a picture of, and the rest will work itself out.
Love pets? Don't miss Z Living's other articles about dogs:
Watch on Z Living: Finding Fido, where photographer and animal behaviorist Seth Casteel hosts plays matchmaker each week between a person and a pooch. Finding Fido will premiere on Z Living in January 2017.
Tell us YOUR heartwarming dog story! We're starting a new series called How I Found My Fido and would love to hear how you found your dog. Click here to submit your story. You could be featured on Z Living!
Tell us in the comments: Have you ever jumped in a pool with your dog before?
Photos: Seth Casteel Instagram