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Animals

This 29-Year-Old Guy Makes A Living Taking Viral Dog Photos

Can you say dream job?

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Meet Elias Weiss Friedman.

@eliaswf via Instagram

In a lot of ways, Elias is your typical millennial: He's 29 and loves playing guitar, eating tacos, and surfing popular dating apps like Hinge.

Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

But one not-so-typical thing? He's also the guy behind The Dogist — the viral Instagram account that's racked up 2.6 million followers.

All of those followers visit the account to look at the photos of real-life dogs that Elias snaps every day while he roams the streets of NYC. To date, he's photographed over 25,000 dogs around the world.
@thedogist via Instagram

All of those followers visit the account to look at the photos of real-life dogs that Elias snaps every day while he roams the streets of NYC. To date, he's photographed over 25,000 dogs around the world.

He's also published a best-selling book and has a second book, The Dogist Puppies, coming out this September.

Artisan Books
@eliaswf via Instagram

I wanted to find out how exactly Elias went from working a desk job to making a living taking photos of dogs, so I recently spent a day with him.

Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

Before he started The Dogist, Elias had a corporate job, but he was let go during a round of layoffs.

While deciding what to do next, he traveled to Europe, where he posted some pictures of random dogs to his personal Instagram account with funny captions —and he realized people were loving the posts.
@eliaswf via Instagram

While deciding what to do next, he traveled to Europe, where he posted some pictures of random dogs to his personal Instagram account with funny captions —and he realized people were loving the posts.

He decided to create a new account called The Dogist in 2013, inspired by The Sartorialist, a fashion blog that highlights style on the streets of NYC.

Elias got tons of followers, and within a year of starting the account, he scored a few paid photo shoots. "Then about a year and a half in, I signed a book deal," Elias told BuzzFeed. "As my following grew, more advertisers reached out." He soon realized he could really support himself doing what he loves most.
Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

Elias got tons of followers, and within a year of starting the account, he scored a few paid photo shoots. "Then about a year and a half in, I signed a book deal," Elias told BuzzFeed. "As my following grew, more advertisers reached out." He soon realized he could really support himself doing what he loves most.

Now, four years later? Some (including me!) say he has one of the best jobs on earth. Elias makes his own hours, he can travel on a whim, and he spends his days playing with PUPPIES.

Every day, Elias chooses a different NYC area to wander around with his assistant. He also travels often to photograph dogs in new places — from Cape Cod to Croatia. When I met with him, he was dressed in lightweight cargo pants and a Patagonia shirt, as if he were going on a safari — and in a way, that's exactly what he does. He roams the streets in search of interesting dogs.
Hannah Loewentheil/ BuzzFeed

Every day, Elias chooses a different NYC area to wander around with his assistant. He also travels often to photograph dogs in new places — from Cape Cod to Croatia. When I met with him, he was dressed in lightweight cargo pants and a Patagonia shirt, as if he were going on a safari — and in a way, that's exactly what he does. He roams the streets in search of interesting dogs.

When he approaches an owner, he doesn't introduce himself as "The Dogist." He just asks if he can take a picture of the dog. Here's the "before" photo that I snapped while Elias was photographing Porko, a Boston terrier.

Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

And here's his final Instagram version:

Instagram: @thedogist

And here's Milo, a 17-year-old Jack Russell. (That's 119 in dog years!)

Instagram: @thedogist

He wears knee pads so he can get down to the dog's level, and he fills his pockets with treats, tennis balls, and squeaky toys to capture the animal's attention. He barks and makes ridiculous dog sounds so that they'll look him in the eye.

Hannah Loewentheil/ BuzzFeed

And in the final shot, it always seems like the dog is looking into Elias's soul.

Instagram: @thedogist

TBH: It seems like Elias has a sixth sense for dogs. And he definitely has a way of getting dog owners to open up and tell him something funny or moving or interesting about their pets.

Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

But as glamorous as the life of The Dogist might sound, it's tough work.

Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

I can personally attest, as I followed Elias for miles from Washington Square Park to Battery Park in the 96-degree New York City heat.

And let me tell you, Elias is a fast walker.
Hannah Loewentheil/BuzzFeed

And let me tell you, Elias is a fast walker.

But this golden retriever clearly didn't mind the heat. Would you look at that smile?!

Instagram: @thedogist

Since he started his account, Elias hasn't missed a single day of shooting. During thunderstorms and snowpocalypses, and even on Christmas Day, he's out with his camera.

instagram.com

"I don't take days off because my life would be less exciting without The Dogist," Elias says. "I somehow found great purpose in carrying a camera and a squeaky tennis ball, so why miss any opportunity to put them to use, especially when it makes so many people happy?" he added.

"The most challenging days to shoot — snow, rain, etc. — are often the days when I make my most memorable images," Elias told BuzzFeed.

Instagram: @thedogist

Let's just say the dogs flock to him.

But he doesn't just photograph any pup. "I'm always looking for things that stand out, and it's not always the dog," Elias told BuzzFeed. He'll stop rare breeds and fan favorites, but if the owner's outfit is special, or there's a scenic mountain view in the background, he looks for those things, too.
Hannah Loewentheil/ BuzzFeed

But he doesn't just photograph any pup. "I'm always looking for things that stand out, and it's not always the dog," Elias told BuzzFeed. He'll stop rare breeds and fan favorites, but if the owner's outfit is special, or there's a scenic mountain view in the background, he looks for those things, too.

He also has a soft spot for dogs in bowties.

instagram.com

#CareerGoals, anyone? For more from Elias, follow The Dogist on Instagram.

@eliaswf vis Instagram

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