Dogs & Peanut Butter: A Blissful Combination By Local Photographer Greg Murray
We are excited to be welcoming Greg Murray, recognized as the best pet photographer in Cleveland and world-renowned author of “Peanut Butter Dogs”, to the Skylight Penthouse on Tuesday, July 11 from 5-8pm, for his art show opening.
Greg has people around the world laughing and smiling at his collection of 140 photographs of lovable pups, mostly rescue dogs, pulling amusing expressions while eating peanut butter. The book has shot him into the limelight with his work being featured in Huffington Post, Elle Magazine, Daily Mail, The Mirror, Bark Post, Mashable, Fox News Network, San Francisco Chronicle, The Telegraph, MSN, Cleveland Magazine, American Photography Magazine, and Buzzfeed – just to name a few! Almost 6,000 copies of “Peanut Butter Dogs” have been sold since its release this March and a third print run is imminent.
Here we catch up with Greg to find out a little more about the book and the man behind this world-wide sensation!
Where did the idea for the book come from?
We had a Mastiff rescue named Bailey. She had droopy ears and jowls. Although she was a happy dog, her physical appearance made her look a bit sad. So about 3 years ago, just months before she passed at the age of 3, I gave her peanut butter to make her look more animated. That was my first peanut butter photo! The book is dedicated to her and that photo is in the beginning of it. Over 2 years later, in early 2016 during the winter, I was a bit bored and wanted to do something fun before my busy season started. I started photographing our dogs, friend's dogs and client's dogs to start a peanut butter series. I started a Kickstarter campaign so I could self-publish a book. The photos went viral and multiple publishers reached out to me to sign a book deal. The rest is history!
Were you surprised by the response you have received world-wide?
Yes and no. People love funny animal photos. I thought it would get shared a lot in Northeast Ohio. But then Today, Huffington Post, Elle, Daily Mail and many more media outlets began calling me for interviews. The photos were in print on 2 full pages in a London newspaper. It was crazy. The series was being shared around the world. It was an amazing feeling to know that the photos were making people smile and laugh around the world. That's all that mattered to me.
Why do you think people fall in love with the photographs?
They're funny and they make people laugh and smile. We need quick laughs during our day. It can make all the difference in the world in how we are feeling.
What’s different about photographing dogs vs people?
Although photographing dogs can be extremely difficult, it is definitely more fun. My photo sessions involve a lot of play time. It's not all about photos. I want them to be comfortable, relaxed and happy. I basically get paid to play with dogs. I photograph people, but only if they have a dog in the shoot. For example, I do engagement shoots but we incorporate the family dog(s).
Do the dogs always co-operate?
On a cooperation scale of 1-10, I see them all. I'm a very patient person and have a very fast camera. I love them all. It would be boring if they all cooperated perfectly and listed to everything I say. The less they listen, the more we laugh and have fun during a shoot. I don't get frustrated. If I did, the dogs would feel my negative energy.
What inspired you to become a photographer?
I spent 10 years in the field of human resources and never really felt right. I liked it at times, but it was just never the right fit for me. I started photography on the side in 2010 and quit my career in HR in 2014. I've always enjoyed art and started various forms as a very young child. My mother was a cake artist and as a child I would just sit there and watch her.... mostly so I could lick the cake batter bowl at the end. She sent me to drawing and pottery classes. I loved them and took a lot of art classes in high school and college. But never photography. I'm self-taught.
When you’re away from the camera what do you like to do in Cleveland to relax and hang out?
If we're not on a walk or run with our dogs, we love exploring Northeast Ohio. Indians' games, restaurant patios, wineries, hiking, day trips and more. We love spending time at our home in Lakewood relaxing on the porch or playing with the dogs in our backyard.
Do you ever think about returning to your corporate HR job? (I think we know the answer)
Any advice for anyone hoping to get into photography?
If you want to have a successful photography business, you must know how to run a business. It's 95% of what I do. Accounting, marketing, sales and customer service. The other 5% involves taking photos. So, although I would never do HR again, spending 10 years with various types of companies prepared me to be a successful business owner. If you just want to become a better photographer on the side, get out and explore. Take thousands of photos. Be different.
What’s next for you?
I really don't know and that's ok. I'd ideally like the next big thing to be pit-bull terrier rescue related. I'm a pit advocate and hope to help end the discriminatory dog ban we have in Lakewood, Ohio. Dogs are dogs and we must love them all, regardless of the way they look. Dangerous is not the way a dog looks. Period.
Thanks Greg for sharing with us. Check out the adorable photos below which will have you oohing and aahing!
Greg’s work is currently on display in the Skylight Penthouse @ Skylight Financial Group, and you can meet Greg at his art show opening on Tuesday, July 11 from 5-8pm, 2012 W. 25th Street, Suite 900, Cleveland OH 44113.
Signed copies of “Peanut Butter Dogs” will be available for purchase, and additionally, Greg is offering the chance to win a FREE mini studio session to one lucky attendee.
Admission is a $10 donation at the door – price of admission provides you with 2 drink tickets, appetizers, time with Greg (as well as some special “furry” guests) and a chance to win a FREE mini studio session for your pup!
All proceeds benefit the Skylight Foundation.