Photographer Andrew Knapp has 166,354 followers on Instagram. Or, rather, his dog does. The Where’s Waldo of the dog world, Find Momo features a black-and-white border collie lying in wait for his owner to throw a stick, camouflaged by his bucolic surroundings in Sudbury, Ontario. Momo has retrieved more than a stick. These games of fetch brought Knapp digital fame and a book deal. The former graphic designer, who is currently traversing North America for his promotional tour, called in from his bright yellow campervan to talk about how Momo is handling his fame with aplomb.
How did the Finding Momo series come about?
The iPhone camera made it easy to take photos, and Instagram made it easy to share. While these stars were aligning, Momo started showing his border-collie characteristics. They’re very neurotic, and very repetitive. Every time I threw a stick for him, he would run off to where he estimated I’d throw it to. He did this so well he looked like he was hiding!
How easy or hard is it to get Momo to hold a pose?
Very easy. Momo makes “sit, stay” look like a lifelong-honed skill.
Did you ever expect the attention the series would get?
I definitely didn’t expect the reaction I got. It has been a ride. It’s great to know that people cherish photos of my best buddy hiding. And I’m stoked to have one more reason to hang out with my dog.
And now you’ve got a book deal!
I want to inspire people to explore the beautiful and even the mundane, and this book seemed like a great way to extend my reach. I was getting book offers by email, but I wanted to find a publisher who I really saw eye to eye. So I got in touch with Quirk Books in Philadelphia, and in a few weeks it was a set deal. It happened very organically.
What are some highlights from your cross-country book tour?
I’ve been travelling in a 1977 VW Westfalia so it’s been a challenge as much as a gift. I’m travelling with a friend and our conversations while driving are just absurd. If you’ve taken a long road trip with someone, you’ve probably freestyled horrible rap for a good two hours straight. From exploring abandoned water parks to meeting people off the beaten path, the whole trip has been a highlight. I got to shake hands with one of my favorite musicians, Loudon Wainwright III, and gave him a book, since he was playing where I was passing through. We talked about dogs all night.
Maddie the coonhound and Norm the pug have lots of Internet “friends,” too. Why do you think dogs are so popular on social media?
It’s something about animals in particular, I think. Their innocent disposition, their humility, their honesty. If you have a person doing all these things, you attach their ego to the photo. You don’t get that with dogs; their facial expressions are as honest as the day is long.
Does Momo know he’s famous?
All he knows is that he gets a lot of love from a lot of strangers! At the first event, he was scared of the projector so he ran off and hid, which was kind of apropos. But he’s a working dog so he’s learned how to work a crowd quite well, and by the end of an event, he’s exhausted and smiling and snoring.
Is Finding Momo your full-time job now?
I sold my house in December so I’m able to coast for a little bit. I’ve been shooting a lot of photos on the road, so when I get home I’ll hit the ground running. Momo lovers will be happy to hear I’m working on a second book. In the spirit of exploration, Momo has been hiding in some really cool places, and I love sharing his antics. I’ll always feed the Momo craze.