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The Pups That Pose



The stars of Hana Kim’s @MyCanineLife feed know when she pulls out her camera and Tamron 17-28mm F/2.8 lens, it’s time to get to work.


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By Jenn Gidman
Images by Hana Kim


Hana Kim has always been a dog person, stretching all the way back to when she was a kid. “When I was in high school, I would always bring my dog everywhere,” she says. “My friends would say, ‘Why are you bringing your dog along?,’ and I’d say, ‘Why not?’”

That animal affinity hasn’t wavered in the years since, and Hana has now transitioned it into photos on her @MyCanineLife Instagram feed, devoted to travels with Gumbo, Maple, and Aslan, the three retrievers she now shares with her husband, Jared. “I adopted Gumbo when he got released from a service-dog program because I wanted an active dog to go hiking with,” she says. “Instagram had just come out, and people were posting photos of all these pretty places. I live in Vancouver, Washington, in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, so I figured it would be fun to get out and take some pictures of my own.”

Aslan was Jared’s dog when they met, and the two adopted Maple together four years ago—and now the three pups are the stars of Hana’s feed, which has close to 130,000 followers. “People just love seeing dogs, and seeing something a little different in nature,” she says. To photograph her furry subjects, Hana relies on the Tamron 17-28mm F/2.8 Di III RXD ultra-wide-angle zoom lens.

“One of the first road trips I did with just me and my dogs was in 2018, where we spent four weeks visiting a slew of places, including slot canyons in Utah,” she says. “And those canyons were very, very narrow. There are few spots to get good leverage for photos, and they’re often crowded with tourists. I also wanted to be able to incorporate more of the environment behind the dogs when I took pictures of them. That’s when I knew I was going to be on the lookout for a ultra-wide-angle lens that could do the trick.”

© Hana Kim
17-28mm (20mm), F/2.8, 1/1600 sec., ISO 100

© Hana Kim
17-28mm (28mm), F/2.8, 1/80 sec., ISO 100
Click image to view larger

Enter the 17-28. “This lens takes care of all that for me, plus the image quality is amazing and it’s light enough to carry around all day when I’m hiking and exploring with the dogs,” she says.

When the weather cooperates and their schedules allow, Hana and her husband will typically hike with the dogs once or twice a week in their area of the Pacific Northwest, hitting spots like the Oregon coast, Mount Rainier, and Seattle. The couple will also try to take several longer road trips each year with their furry companions—Utah, Colorado, and Canada are favorites—and Hana also does solo trips closer to home.

When Hana is scanning the landscape to figure out where she’ll take her photos, she looks for scenes that feature the best positioning for her pups. “Most of the time it’s a lookout or at the top of a hiking trail,” she says. “I’m not just doing landscape photography—I have to incorporate the dogs—so I’ll look for rocks or logs or some other object the dogs can stand or sit on. I don’t want them to just be standing in the middle of nothing.”

© Hana Kim
17-28mm (17mm), F/2.8, 1/1600 sec., ISO 100
Click image to view larger

> © Hana Kim
17-28mm (17mm), F/2.8, 1/400 sec., ISO 100
Click image to view larger

By this point, her subjects know just what to do. “The first thing I teach all my dogs is how to sit, lie down, and stay, because they have to be able to do that for a photo,” Hana says. “And they’ll usually keep doing it for as long as I need them to. Maple especially has been doing this since she was born; she was born to be a model. In fact, they’re so acclimated now to taking pictures that if we stop somewhere and I take my camera out, the dogs will immediately walk over and step onto random things, ready to pose. They consider it their job.”

© Hana Kim
17-28mm (17mm), F/2.8, 1/400 sec., ISO 160
Click image to view larger

© Hana Kim
17-28mm (18mm), F/2.8, 1/640 sec., ISO 100
Click image to view larger

Hana doesn’t push the dogs, though, and will shift gears if she sees they’re getting tired or bored. “They associate taking photos with getting treats and having fun,” she says. “I never, ever force them to do anything they don’t want to do, like if there’s a certain rock they’re wary of climbing onto. And their safety is paramount. In some of my images, it may look like they’ve got their backs up against the edge of a really high cliff, but in reality, if you look over the side, it’s often just a 2-foot drop.”

© Hana Kim
17-28mm (28mm), F/2.8, 1/1000 sec., ISO 100
Click image to view larger

© Hana Kim
17-28mm (24mm), F/2.8, 1/200 sec., ISO 100
Click image to view larger

For Hana, one of the best parts of her photo endeavors is all the dog-friendly friends she’s made along the way. “The people I hang out with on an almost weekly basis are all people I’ve met on Instagram,” she says. “When you’re involved in something like this, you find people you relate to. I now have this group of friends who all love the same things as me—namely, photography and dogs. And I’m proud of what I do. At my 10-year high school reunion, which is coming up this summer, other people might talk about their doctorates or how they’re working on solving world hunger, and I’ll get to say, ‘I take pictures of my dogs and have 130,000 followers who check them out on Instagram.”

To see more of Hana Kim’s images, check out https://mycaninelife.wixsite.com/insta and her Instagram.





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