Animal photography must be among the hardest types of picture taking in the world. First you need to find your subject – no mean feat in itself. Then it’s not as if your subject will behave for the camera or strike a pose if you ask it. But with some patience and a bit of luck, you might just capture nature at its most hilarious – just like Allan Dixon has done.
In Hugh Lofting’s early 20th-century children’s books, his main character, Doctor Dolittle, could talk to animals. Yet had the series been set 100 years later, perhaps the good doctor would have been taking selfies with them, too.
Enter Allan Dixon, who some have called a real-life Doctor Dolittle. He earned this nickname owing to his apparent talent for talking animals – such as the alpaca pictured here – into having selfies taken with him.
Dixon is a self-confessed adventurer. Originally hailing from Wicklow, Ireland, this is a man whose travels have taken him far and wide, and he is currently residing in Queenstown, New Zealand.
Dixon seems to have made a commercial enterprise out of posing with animals wherever he goes. Judging by his Instagram, he has made many furry friends in places as far and wide as Canada, Australia, Asia, Iceland and Norway, at least.
On his travels, Dixon has taken selfies with common farmyard animals such as sheep, cows, horses and goats. More exotically, meanwhile, he can be seen posing with seals, turtles, llama, camels and the Australian quokka.
Dixon’s initial forays into animal selfies were modest poses with his dog in 2010. The snapshot that got people really talking, however, was one in 2013 with a baby camel in the outback Down Under.
Since the baby camel caught the public’s imagination, taking animal selfies has become a trademark for Dixon. So far the traveler has amassed in excess of 40 selfies with about 30 different species of animals.
What’s most captivating about Dixon’s photos is the incredibly expressive faces of the animals. And whether it’s a beaming smile or an aspect of surprise, the animal’s expression is often mimicked by the look on Dixon’s own face.
“This trend started to take off and people couldn’t wait to see the next hilarious selfie with an animal,” Dixon told the Daily Mail. “Curiosity combined with anticipation is very addictive,” the carefree traveler added.
Since the baby camel, Dixon has been photographed low-fiving a wallaby in Alice Springs, Australia. He’s also compared dental work with a camel on Airlie Beach and gotten Christmassy with an albino kangaroo in Perth.
By far Dixon’s favorite posing partner, however, is the quokka. Indigenous to a small area of Western Australia, the cat-sized marsupial is friendly, inquisitive and has a very cute, expressive face.
Since him sharing his selfies across his social media channels, Dixon’s following has grown. “After three photos, it was a given I should continue the trend,” he told MailOnline. “Anticipation crept into my social network as to what animal could possibly be next, with what expression?”
So Dixon set about capturing more selfies with both wild and domestic animals. But he wasn’t interested in boring poses; he was only interested in the element of surprise – something that actually takes a lot of patience to achieve.
Dixon says there is no particular skill in animal selfies, but a lot of waiting is required. The key is to make sure the animal gets familiar with you and is comfortable having you come near.
Agitation and sudden movements can unsettle an animal. Duh. So If you remain calm, it’s easier to bring in a camera and take the picture you want. That said, everyone looked surprised when this seagull swooped in for the cockatoo’s snack.
Interestingly, the camera belies how much time it actually takes to capture the perfect shot. “It depends on the animal and how safe it feels,” Dixon told Bored Panda. Some of his photo shoots last only five minutes, others three hours.
Dixon added, “What the photos don’t show is the amount of dirt that ends up on my clothes because of being on the ground.” It may seem like a chore, but as he says, “The results are worth it.”
“There’s something magical about animals that you can’t define. I feel a great joy in their presence, so much that I want to share this feeling with my friends,” Dixon told MailOnline. He obviously chooses his subjects with this in mind as well.
Dixon aims to carry on taking animal selfies as he traverses the globe. Not only will he keep his thousands of Instagram and Facebook followers happy, but as he’s said, “Even I’m excited to see what comes next.” Please, though, Dixon, just remember that if you visit New York, it’s illegal to take selfies with tigers.