Animal photography can be a fantastic way to glimpse beneath the outward appearance of our beloved companions, and get a better idea of who they truly are. When animals are captured at their most whimsical – running around and playing without a care in the world – the results can be truly hilarious, moving, and thought-provoking. A well-taken photograph can even influence a homeless animal’s chances of securing a loving forever home. Organizations such as One Picture Saves a Life have devoted themselves to taking that perfect picture which will melt a prospective guardian’s heart.

Twenty-two-year-old photographer Robert Bahou, from the Netherlands, has sought to portray the beautiful essence of the animals he works with for the past couple of years … and the results are breathtaking. But how does he get his subjects to pose so well for him?

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“Most dogs are trained to sit on command, so half my work is already done for me,” he explained in an interview with Today.com. “Once they sit in the sweet spot between the lights and the background, I try to grab their attention. Sometimes calling their name is enough, other times making an abrupt noise to get them to look my way works too.”

As any avid cat lover might have guessed, Bahou finds it significantly more difficult to get felines to sit for their portrait.

“You can’t make a cat do anything,” he said. “It has to be their decision to pose for the photo, otherwise I won’t get anywhere. But cats do have a few instinctual tendencies that I can use to my advantage. They like be on a high spot, so I bring a stool along. Generally, as soon as I put it down, the cat will jump on it.” The stool is made of wicker, and Bahou notes that scratching it seems to put the cats at ease. Another tactic he uses is to “bring out a toy or feather to catch their attention, slowly lead it towards me and then hide it behind my head. Now they are looking right at me for a brief moment, just enough for me to get my photograph.”

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Whatever tactics Bahou uses to get his furry models to sit still, they seem to be working! Not only are the images absolutely gorgeous, but they seem to capture the personalities of the animals perfectly.

This family of Bernese mountain dogs love a good laugh!

Gorgeous Photographs Capture the Unique Personalities of Beloved Domestic Animals

“Ho-hum … this whole portrait business is getting kinda boring now…”

Gorgeous Photographs Capture the Unique Personalities of Beloved Domestic Animals

“Whatcha lookin’ at, punk?!”

Gorgeous Photographs Capture the Unique Personalities of Beloved Domestic Animals

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This sweet husky, Owen, looks very serious indeed, but Bahou said, “in the short time that I knew him he was a lot more playful than this photograph may let on.”

Gorgeous Photographs Capture the Unique Personalities of Beloved Domestic Animals

This beautiful (and slightly shocked-looking) horse is named Louai, and is “a rare example of an Arabian (horse) with two blue eyes.”

Gorgeous Photographs Capture the Unique Personalities of Beloved Domestic Animals

Karim, another beautiful Arabian horse, was a little shy before the cameras…

Gorgeous Photographs Capture the Unique Personalities of Beloved Domestic Animals

Nikky takes the expression “wide-eyed innocent” to a whole new level in this adorable snap!

Gorgeous Photographs Capture the Unique Personalities of Beloved Domestic Animals

“Does my nose look big in this?”

Gorgeous Photographs Capture the Unique Personalities of Beloved Domestic Animals

“I know my nose looks big in this, but I don’t care! Too busy having fun!”

Gorgeous Photographs Capture the Unique Personalities of Beloved Domestic Animals

“Big hair, don’t care.”

Gorgeous Photographs Capture the Unique Personalities of Beloved Domestic Animals

“I know something you don’t know…”

Gorgeous Photographs Capture the Unique Personalities of Beloved Domestic Animals

This soulful pup is having one heck of a good hair day.

Gorgeous Photographs Capture the Unique Personalities of Beloved Domestic Animals

Everybody say,”awww!”

Gorgeous Photographs Capture the Unique Personalities of Beloved Domestic Animals

 

Bahou believes that there is an inherent mystery behind every photograph he takes. “I can never say with certainty who an animal is, I don’t think anybody can,” he reflected. “What I can do, however, is create an image that hides nothing, yet leaves everything to the imagination. I want people to see something they can relate to in these photos, and perhaps make up their own stories about who the animals are.”

Bahou is currently preparing to release a new book called “Animal Soul” which will feature 220 pages of cat and dog portraits, most of which have not been posted online. To keep up with the book’s publication plans, follow Bahou’s blog. And if you would like to see more beautiful snaps, visit Bahou’s Facebook page, Instagram feed, or website.

All image source: Rob Bahou Photography/Facebook