Sit, stay… pose? 

That is what Rosario Zarcaro IV, pet portrait photographer, has been asking the most photogenic of companion animals in our area to do for years. 


A lifelong Bradley Beach resident, Rosario began studying photography using “old-school” film while enrolled in Red Bank Regional’s art program from 2000 to 2004. 

“I was in one of the last classes to actually use film,” said Rosario.  “Learning to use film and develop film I think is a technical art form and a science.  Kids do not experience that today and going through the whole development process is an important part of the photograph – just pressing print on a computer means less.” 

Rosario found his love of photographing companion animals when he adopted his dog, Patrick, a well-mannered beagle with big brown eyes and floppy ears. 

“I first photographed animals in college,” said Rosario, of his time at the Hallmark Institute of Photography.  “But when I graduated, I adopted Patrick and thought that I had to capture his personality in photographs – he just looks at you with those eyes and tricks you into doing what he wants.” 

His first photo session [above] with Patrick included using a leftover duck dinner as a bribe. 

“That photo you see is him wanting more duck – controlling everything in him to get more,” said Rosario.  “As soon as I saw the prints of that session, I knew I would love to do this for other people and their dogs.” 

Rosario, a gentle and introspective soul, has created regal black and white and color images of more than 50 area companion animals with his traveling professional studio. 

“I come to my client’s home and set up the lights and everything so the dog will feel more comfortable,” he said.  “I also have a bag of tricks to keep the dog’s attention.” 

His photos – primarily executed with a soft black backdrop and multiple lights which dramatically illuminate the furry subject – capture the companion animal’s verve.  The dog’s curiosity, restrained excitement, playfulness, vulnerability and pure love and devotion summon you from each print, as if you were admiring her across the sundeck at Yappy Hour. 

Cue the Sarah McLaughlan music. 

“The trick is knowing how to talk to dogs and handling the dogs in an unfamiliar studio-like setting,” said Rosario, who has exhibited his work at Fins and Pop’s Garage and done benefits for the Monmouth County SPCA.  “Animals are amazing.  They give you something different – pure emotion more than any person.” 

The photos sessions are quick – after the set up, it takes 20 minutes to get “the keeper.” 

“I love making a family happy with a photo of their pet – what some consider a child,” concluded Rosario. 

Call Rosario for more info: 908.433.6112. 


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