An inquisitive chihuahua has put her owner in the running for a photography award – by gatecrashing a photo shoot.

Aurélie Walder, a Swiss photographic student at the University of Northampton, was working on a still-life assignment and snapping away at a jug of water – but then her dog, Coco, got curious.

“Coco kept on looking at me and wanted to be involved,” said Aurélie. “She was so persistent that I gave in and thought, ‘I’ll do something with you’.”

Aurélie put her pup on the table, and carried on taking photographs.

“She loves dog biscuits, so I thought, I drop one in the water and see what happens – and I got the most amazing result with my very first shot,” she said. “I expected Coco would close her eyes as she put her head in the water, but she kept them open, which really makes the shot something special. I also love the way the water and glass distorts her body. Coco’s something special, and I just love this photograph.”

Aurelie Walder photographer, aureliewalder.com, photos@aureliewalder.com

The image was noticed by the University’s Head of Photography, Richard Whitehead, who urged Aurélie to enter it into the Association of Photographers (AOP) Student Awards. The photo was shortlisted for the Things category.

Richard Whitehead said, “The AOPs are the most prestigious student photography awards going and draws thousands of entries from hundreds of universities and colleges. The competition is incredibly tough, so to get through to the final shortlist for an award is a huge achievement.”

Aurélie admits that she couldn’t believe it when news came that her photo had made it among the finalists.

“I was actually in a shop with some friends and I think I screamed – and it’s still not sunk in, because it’s such a big deal,” she said. Aurélie will find out if she has won the award at a glittering ceremony in London, in June.

She said, “I want to be a wildlife photographer, and this nomination has added so much to my portfolio. After graduation I’m hoping to stay in the UK and pursue my career – and I plan to be reunited with Coco by flying her over, because she’s currently living overseas with my mum.”

One thing is certain: when Coco gets her Pet Passport to come to the UK, there will be no question at all over which photo to use.

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