Story By Jenn Gidman
Images By Molly Dombroski
Molly Dombroski uses her Tamron 28-75mm F/2.8 lens on a Sony mirrorless camera to document the adventures of her two dogs, Mylo and Summit.
The summer after her sophomore year at Auburn University, Molly Dombroski brought home Mylo, a 6-month-old rescue pit-bull mix. A couple of years later, she welcomed Summit, a Siberian husky, into the fold—and hence began her photographic adventures with the two, which she documents on both her website and on her Instagram, a feed with nearly 60,000 followers that she’s cheekily named “The FastnFurriest.”
Soon after her new additions, Molly bought herself a Sony a7 III full-frame mirrorless camera and started looking into lenses that would maximize what she could do with it. “I told the guy at the camera store what I was looking to photograph—namely, my dogs in a variety of settings—and he pointed me in the direction of the Tamron 28-75mm F/2.8 Di III RXD lens,” she says. “I’ve been so pleased with it ever since. The sharpness and picture quality is amazing. I also love having wide-angle capability where I can shoot at 28mm, then switch to 75mm, because the dogs are constantly running—it’s extremely helpful to be able to change my focal length on the fly. I don’t want to always have to pose them, then walk way back to take a photo. I appreciate being able to take a picture of whatever they’re doing at the time without having to reposition myself.”
Taking photos of Mylo and Summit—who are “two peas in a pod,” Molly says—allows her to merge her love for her dogs, photography, and an adventurous lifestyle, which often sends her on mountain hikes or onto the ski slopes. “It’s a great source of joy, and entertainment, to document them with my camera,” she says. “They have distinct personalities, which is why I often like to get down to eye level for my photos to really show how they’re feeling.”
Since she started her full-time job in the pharmaceuticals industry, it’s been more difficult to get away from her home in Hoboken, New Jersey, but Molly still squeezes in as many weekend trips as she can, her camera and pups by her side. “It’s definitely more challenging to carve out time than it was in college, but before the coronavirus I was working from home every Friday, so I’d go away on a Thursday night, work from wherever I was on Friday, then have the whole weekend for an extended photo session with Mylo and Summit,” she says.
Although she places Mylo and Summit front and center in her photos, Molly also strives to show their surroundings, in a more environmental-style portrait, so the viewer can get a sense of place for each image. “I like to show off what I’m doing with the dogs to maybe inspire others to go out on hikes or play in the backyard with their own pups,” she says.
The dogs are usually able to follow many of the commands Molly gives to set up her photos, though sometimes a little more coaxing is involved. “Most of what I’m concerned with involves keeping them safe and comfortable,” she says. “For instance, when we’re at the beach in the middle of the day, I want to make sure the sun isn’t reflecting too much and hurting their eyes.”
Although Molly prefers the lighting at sunrise, that time of day isn’t always the best for canine purposes. “First thing in the morning is my favorite time to photograph the dogs, but Mylo and Summit often have different ideas,” she says. “I usually end up taking them out in the middle of the day, because that’s when they’re the most hyper—they really need to get out before we wind down for the night. After work is when we do a lot of our outings.”
Most of Molly’s time spent in post-processing is used to make minor tweaks. “I have some photos that I get really excited about where I do Photoshop overlays, which takes some time,” she says. “But typically I just throw on a preset and try to fix the white balance, shadows, and highlights. I’ll also usually use a brush tool on the dogs. With Summit, for instance, a green tint tends to show up, so I’ll spend some time trying to get the green out. Mylo, meanwhile, can be very contrasty, so I’ll work on getting the highlights down.”
Read on for a bit of backstory behind each of Molly’s photos with Mylo and Summit.
I’d gone camping in North Carolina with my best friend, and we’d woken up for sunrise. There was this amazing fog drifting between the mountains in the background, and I knew I wanted to try to capture that as the sun came up. It had been so cold the previous night, and Mylo had been shivering, so I put him in this little custom-made jacket I’d bought for him. I set my camera up to capture the scene, then just picked Mylo up and gave him some kisses as the sun came up over the mountains. It was such a sweet shot.
This photo goes back to what I talked about earlier on showing a sense of place. This was on that same camping trip in North Carolina, and we were chilling around the fire pit—the perfect way to relax after a day of hiking. I wanted to capture that scene of the campsite, but I didn’t want that to be the main focus. Summit and Mylo served as the perfect subjects, which allowed me to place them as the centerpiece against that wonderful backdrop.
I hadn’t taken the dogs out to do anything fun for a while, so I took them to Liberty State Park in New Jersey right around sunrise one day. My intent was to capture the New York City skyline at that gorgeous time of the morning, but then Summit got into this position and it was such an eye-catching perspective, with the red light illuminating the fur on his sides, as well as his breath to the left of him.
I’ve been quarantining for the past few weeks with my parents in Florida. This photo of Mylo was taken on one of my first days down there. I’m obsessed with Pendleton, and the bedroom I’m in has Pendleton bedding, including this blanket. I couldn’t resist snapping a photo of Mylo as he was lounging on it, just about to take a nap. I got down to eye level with him so I could look right into his eyes.
During my time here in Florida, I take the dogs to the beach and let them run around. In this photo, Mylo was probably staring at a bird—he looks so intent. The sun was starting to go down, so I had that nice warm light hitting him. This is one of those images where I wanted to shoot wide open and blur the background out enough so that you’re concentrating on the details of Mylo’s fur, but can still see the environment around him.
I’d taken Summit with me on a trip with friends to Boulder, Colorado. I was meeting my friends at a trailhead, but my car ended up getting stuck, so I had to wait for them to show up and rescue us. I let Summit out to walk around and explore as we were killing time. I blurred out the background just enough to really make Summit the focus. My shutter speed was a relatively fast 1/1600th of a second, so I was able to freeze the individual snowflakes as they fell.
This was on the same trip to Boulder, but on a different day. Summit and I had taken a solo hike, my very first hike in Colorado, and there wasn’t a soul around. Summit was having a blast, just shoving his face right into the snow and jumping in and out of it like crazy. I was able to capture him after one of those moments, with the snow all over his fur. Like the photo of Mylo at the beach, I love how the 28-75 picks up the detail in every piece of fur and every snowflake.
I took this photo of Summit in a tunnel right outside of my apartment in Hoboken. Bridges and tunnels aren’t always the prettiest things to shoot, but those colorful lights make this scene so cool—those are the actual colors, I didn’t alter them in any way. The light wasn’t great for this scene, so I had to shoot wide open at F/2.8. I didn’t have a flash at the time, so I had to do quite a bit of editing in post. But Summit didn’t care about any of that. He was more than happy to pose for me.
To see more of Molly Dombroski’s work, go to her website, or to her Instagram.