Photographer Andrew Knapp says the concept behind his books and his popular Instagram account – which has nearly 600,000 followers – was all Momo’s.
“In all honesty, the hiding idea was his,” he says of his 8-year-old border collie, the bright-eyed subject of Knapp’s “Find Momo” series of books.
“When we’re out on trails and he drops a stick at my feet for me to throw, he runs off into the woods and pops out from behind a bush or a rock or something and looks at me,” he said. “When anyone actually joins me for a walk, they’re like, ‘Ooohhh, he really does that.’
“It was him.”
Knapp and Momo, who live in Vancouver, British Columbia, spend most of their days traveling the U.S. and Canada in their mustard-colored 1977 Volkswagen camper van, posting photos to their Instagram account.
Knapp’s “I Spy”-style photos have shown Momo scampering atop the Glamis Dunes in California, peering out at rocky cliffs on the Oregon coast, hiding amid yard art on a porch in Toronto and strolling down Fremont Street in Las Vegas.
On April 30, they will visit the Kansas Humane Society in Wichita, where Knapp will give a talk and sign copies of his newest book, “Let’s Find Momo,” a hide-and-seek board book for kids.
During a video interview via Skype last week, Knapp, who was in a coffee shop in California, said he enjoys meeting fans – particularly fellow dog owners – and talking about his journey and his life with Momo.
“It always feels a little surreal,” he said. “I read all the comments and I read all the messages that I get. Sometimes I just have to go through them to remember this is real and it’s connecting with people I don’t even know, and it’s an amazing thing.”
After his first book, “Find Momo,” was published in 2014, Knapp criss-crossed the country promoting it and taking pictures of Momo along the way. Those photographs inspired the second book, “Find Momo Coast to Coast,” which shows the border collie hiding in Grand Central Station, in front of the White House and on the streets of San Francisco.
People often ask Knapp how he gets Momo to sit still for the photographs. As a breed, he said, border collies are notoriously intelligent and hard-working. And Momo is “a sit-and-stay master,” he added.
“He’s so cooperative, I’d say about 75 percent of the time,” he said. “Sometimes he’s tired. Sometimes he’s not in the mood, and it’s not going to be a photo. Sometimes he doesn’t want it, and I just have to move on and just forget about it.
“Sometimes I lose what I would think would be an amazing photo because Momo is tired or he’s just distracted by a cat, or he gets scared because he hears a sound,” Knapp said. “But I go with the flow. If he doesn’t want to do it, then I don’t do it.”
During book tours, Knapp shares photos – including some never before published or posted – and talks about his techniques and his travels. He rarely scouts locations or plans shots very far in advance, he said.
“It depends on the photo, but my method is very unplanned. My life is unplanned,” he said.
“I shoot what I see when I see it. … My eyes are all over the road all the time when I’m driving, which doesn’t sound safe at all, but I’m only driving 50 miles per hour.
“You set a destination and you keep your eyes open, and something’s bound to happen between where you are and where you’re gonna be.”
His other bit of advice for budding photographers: Shoot more. Shoot lots.
“Take more photos. It’s less about the technical advice, because that’s your own,” he said. “That’s what’s going to make your style that you develop as you practice, as you shoot.
“But the most important thing is that you shoot a lot and you bring that camera with you a lot,” he said. “If you’re passionate about it, that shouldn’t be a problem. And if you’re not that passionate about it, then maybe there’s something else you should pick up instead of a camera.”
Find Momo in Wichita
Watermark Books & Cafe, in partnership with the Kansas Humane Society, will host author/photographer Andrew Knapp and his border collie, Momo, for an event promoting their newest book, “Let’s Find Momo,” a hide-and-seek board book.
During the free event – 2-4 p.m. April 30 at the Kansas Humane Society, 3313 N. Hillside – Knapp will sign books, share photo tips for beginners and pros, offer advice for traveling with a dog (including a list of his favorite places) and share never-before-seen photos of Momo.