Diana Lundin was building websites and doing headshots when she stumbled onto pet photography. “I started photographing my neighbor’s cat,” she says. “I got really good at it.” She started off with the colorful series Dogs vs. Pizza and Dogs vs. Ice Cream, and then things got a little darker. A friend brought up film noir, and Lundin’s award-winning Dog Noir series was born. “You never see animals in those classic movies,” she says. “So I started doing it.”
Lundin imagined dachshunds sniffing for clues under the Colorado Street Bridge and a Yorkie about to board a train as the shadows grow long at dusk. She has been all over town scouting locations for the series, from Boardner’s in Hollywood to an escape room downtown to a client’s antique shop in Culver City.
“We’ve ben thrown out of a few places,” she remembers of her first attempts. “We got thrown out of Chinatown. I tell people you have to have a sense of adventure about this.”
What started out as a guerrilla project has grown into a commercial enterprise. You can immortalize you and your pet (she’s done other animals, including a hawk) in a framed and matted 12”x18” print for $795. The shoot includes a visit to Lundin’s prop room and wardrobe closets, which she has stocked with dial telephones, period magazines, and wide silk ties from eBay.
Lundin has to deal with the occasional overheated actor sweating under layers of wool on a sunny L.A. afternoon, but the animal actors (who are asked to wear a period-appropriate leather collar) are either all in or not having it. “I want the dog and human to interact. They’re partners,” Lundin says. “Since it’s dark and mysterious I don’t want them smiling. We love a smiley dog, but there’s no smiling in dog noir.”
Lundin has scoured the city for period perfect locations; booking shoots under the neon rooftop sign at the Hotel Normandie, and on the classic train cars of the Southern California Railway Museum in Perris, 75 miles east of Downtown. Sometimes she finds herself at the same locations used by the original crews of classics like Double Indemnity and A Touch of Evil. She keeps a wish list that includes the Formosa Café, Lake Hollywood, and The Prince, but those have not yet become available. “I have a collection of screen shots for inspiration,” she says. “ But I don’t try to recreate anything exactly – because there’s no dogs in them.”
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