Atlanta Humane Society brings photographer of whimsical ‘Underwater Dogs’
By David Pendered
Here in the dog days of Summer in the South, the Atlanta Humane Society is bringing photographer Seth Casteel for a visit to talk about his photo series that became a New York Times best selling book, Underwater Dogs.
The photos have transcended pop culture to connect individuals with dogs whose experiences underwater can be as vivid as many folks feel in their above-water lives.
The AHS is hosting a lecture and book signing Friday with Casteel. The admission price is $10 for the 2-hour event that starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Marriott Hotel, located off Clairmont Road just west of the intersection with I-85.
The photos capture the range of emotions that flood the dogs as they chase the ball in a swimming pool, from grit to determination – sometimes even fear. These dogs remind humans that there are times we may not want to jump after a metaphorical ball, but, there are times we’ve got to jump scared.
This dog phenom begun in 2012, when Casteel’s series of dogs diving into swimming pools became an overnight sensation. More than 100 million viewers saw the series in the first 24 hours, according to his website. A book deal arose, he branched into babies and puppies and, voila, Casteel’s eighth book, Pounce, is due out Oct. 18.
Here’s how reviewer Gregory Cowles summed up Casteel’s book in a Dec. 21, 2012 commentary in The New York Times Sunday Book Review:
- “These pictures are amazing, and sometimes terrifying. (Google them if you don’t believe me.) Casteel, a photographer and animal rights activist in Los Angeles and Chicago, explains in his introduction why he lures his subjects into the pool: ‘Modern dogs are domesticated animals who embrace their friendship with humankind, but they also have a primitive side, and they jump at the chance to get in touch with their wild instincts. Sometimes all it takes is the toss of a ball and an invitation into the water.’”
Casteel traces the beginnings of this whirlwind to 2007, when he began taking photos of homeless pets to help rescuers find homes for the animals. The photos had the intended result and Casteel found himself launching a new career in photography.
Casteel’s website chronicles a rise to the pinnacle of success. He’s traveled the world to take photos of animals. His work has appeared in National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, and hundreds of others. There are TV appearances with Brian Williams and a collaboration with TD Ameritrade in Cape Town, South Africa, to showcase his work.
The Atlanta Humane Society hopes Casteel’s visit will jumpstart funding raising. The non-profit is struggling to regain the level of grants and contributions of prior years.
In 2011, the AHS raised $8.4 million in grants and contributions, according to its 990 tax return it filed with the IRS. The amount fell the next year to $5.5 million. Last year, the AHS reports grants and contributions of $3.3 million.
Net assets increased from 2011 to 2012. Assets rose from $33.4 million to $34.7 million last year.
The AHS reported that it provided care and found homes for 6,156 animals during the first nine months of 2015. It provided spay/neuter service for 9,600 animals during the same period, according to its tax return.