Seattle-based photographer Marika Moffitt of Dirtie Dog Photography has been capturing candid moments between pets and their people since 2011. She regularly partners with local nonprofits to help animals in need and loves partnering with other local animal-focused businesses. Her striking images resonated with animal lovers throughout the Pacific Northwest and her career was skyrocketing…until her husband, James, came down with a sudden illness.
“The experience of having a loved one suddenly fall ill and end up being in the hospital for a month is traumatic, but the experience made me stronger,” Marika said. “I chose to step back from what I’d been working so hard on. I love my business. After my husband’s illness, I’m even more determined to do great things for my family, my business, and for my community.”
And that determination shines through in her images. Marika’s photographs connect people and their pets. Each image, like these tulips, has a deeper meaning.
“I was picking tulips out of a bunch to create a crown for my dog, Kerouac; she has been modeling for me,” Marika said. “One of the tulips was so pretty, that I decided to photograph it on its own before trimming it for the crown. Then I grabbed a second. They were each in their own vase. As soon as I placed them on the table together, I got this gut feeling. When I looked at these two tulips in their separate vases, stretching across the space between them, it reminded me of when James was in the worst of it during the first week. He didn’t know what was going on or where he was. He couldn’t communicate. All we could do was wait.
“These photographs are what it was like to long for that space to be gone, so that we could touch, talk, and just be us again.
“When James finally started to wake up out of the fog after leaving the ICU, I couldn’t wait to just talk to him. I had to wait another week before he could handle my yammering, but every day I felt that space grow smaller. Every day we were closer to being us again.”
Once James had recovered, Marika returned to her work. She loves photographing animals – and she has never known life without them. She got her first camera when she was nine years old and spent that the rest of her childhood photographing animals.
“My first experience of heartbreak was at the age of three when my dog, Grizzly, passed away,” she recalled. “It was the day that I understood that the pets we love don’t live as long as we do. This stayed with me growing up with all the animals I loved. When I was eight, I got my first subscription to Horse Illustrated Magazine. That’s when I realized that the animals I loved could live on through photographs. I asked for a camera soon after this, and then I shot a million rolls of film of all our pets. My family thought it was strange, but when one of our pets passed away, I had portraits for them to love. The hardest part of loving animals is that they don’t stay with us in this life forever. But I believe they live on with us, and we can continue to connect with their stories by sharing them through photographs.”
Her animals were her inspiration to become a pet photographer – and they continue to be an integral part of her business.
“I went to photography school in Missoula, Montana in 2007, at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography Intensive Programs, but didn’t pursue pet photography until 2011, when I remembered that photographing animals is where my heart is happiest. I didn’t have the courage to jump into photography full-time until 2017 here in Seattle when it was just time for me to give everything to this dream of mine. Things have been amazing over the past two years.”
Dirtie Dog Photography and Pet Connection Magazine recently created the Limelight Pet Project, a multimedia campaign highlighting rescue animals and the people who help them.
“We shine the light on these pets because their stories are worth telling,” Marika explained.
“I strongly believe in the power of collaboration and community, so to be able to give back through photographing pets that need help finding homes fills my heart with so much joy. I love being able to work with such great people who do so many things to help these animals find homes.”
Marika also recently started a podcast called the Seattle Pet Collective. “It’s a podcast featuring stories from people in the Seattle pet community,” she said.
“For readers interested in having portraits taken of their pets, now is a good time to reach out to book a session. Things can change so quickly in our pets’ lives, so let’s get started on telling their story. You’ll be so happy you did!”
Learn more about Dirtie Dog Photography at www.dirtiedogphotography.com.