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Graduate photographer turns beach into catwalk for model dogs

Michael Johnson

Forget ‘ruff’ seas, a keen photographer is putting dogs in the frame by snapping them down on the beach. Sunderland graduate Michael Johnson has decided to put his hobby of photography to good use and take snaps of happy pooches enjoying the seaside.

To make the most of his shots, Michael has set up an Instagram account dedicated to the water-loving canines and its popularity is growing. The 22-year-old, who lives in Whitburn, says he is surprised how much interest his page - Dogs of Seaburn - has attracted.

Michael said his passion for photography started when he was about 12, and developed a further interest in photography during his time at the University of Sunderland. 

He said: "I studied Digital Film Production at the University of Sunderland and I was attracted to the course primarily because it was very hands on, a lot of your time was spent actually making films and getting real world experience which I firmly believe is the best way to learn.

"We had access to a lot of professional equipment which not only helped me gain experience with equipment I normally wouldn't have access to, but also allowed me to become confident in my skills and I was able to focus in great detail on the aspects of filmmaking that I enjoy.

He continued: "The course itself was great, it allowed me to be surrounded by people with a similar passion and drive. That environment gave us the ability to work together as a team and to push each other to our limits creatively. As a result our dissertation film has been nominated for an RTS award (watch film below). 

Now, a video editor at a Newcastle-based company, Michael goes out and about with his camera in his spare time.

He explained: “ The beach is only a ten minute walk from where I live so I decided to go down there and take some photos of dogs. I like the beach and I like dogs, so it seemed a good idea. I just decided to do it as a hobby really and people seem to be loving the photos. I really enjoy it, it is relaxing and very therapeutic.

“So far I’ve photographed 100 dogs and I aim to share a photo a day.”

Michael, who has his own eight-year-old Chihuahua called Paco, said the Instagram and Facebook pages have only been running for just over a month and he has had a lot of very positive feedback from the dogs’ owners and from people visiting the site.

He said one dog-lover was particularly thrilled that Michael managed to take photos of his beloved pet just days before it had to have an eye removed and they plan to do some after surgery shots once the dog is well enough. Michael, a former Whitburn Academy student, added: “My goal is to hopefully put all the photographs into a book. And, I would like to sell some prints.”

Michael says he goes along to the beach at Seaburn most weekends, especially if the weather is good for taking photographs. Anyone who would like to follow Michael’s work can visit his Facebook page, Dogs of Seaburn, at or on Instagram at


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