Elinor Roizman of Ashkelon won first prize in the “Dogs at Play” category of the British Kennel Club’s Dog Photographer of the Year competition.

It’s the first time an Israeli has won in the 13-year history of the international contest, which this year drew more than 10,000 entries from 70 countries.

Roizin, 27, founded Dog-Ma Photography three years ago, inspired by the work of Boston pet photographer Kaylee Greer. (Incidentally, Greer won the 2017 Dog Photographer of the Year contest in the same category Roizman won this year.)

Prizewinning Israeli dog photographer Elinor Roizman. Photo by Yarin Klein

“People told me I was crazy to go into pet photography rather than weddings, where the money is,” she tells ISRAEL21c. “I told them, ‘This is what I want. Pets are the most precious thing in my world.’ I do it not to get rich but to do something I believe in.”

Elinor Roizman snapped these pooch pals in a tender moment. Photo courtesy of Dog-Ma Photography

The winning shot is from a session photographing a client’s four Pomeranians chasing soap bubbles on a beach near Jaffa just before sunset. Suddenly, the smallest and youngest of the canine siblings, named Lili, “began to jump with pleasure at the soap bubbles and play as if she were a puppy. It was a precious moment full of happiness and true freedom.”

Here’s another dog photographed in Israel by Elinor Roizman. Photo courtesy of Dog-Ma Photography

A certified dog trainer with a degree in animal science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Roizman shares her Ashkelon home with three dogs, two cats, a parrot and a horse.

She also teaches pet photography courses at Galitz School of Photography in Ramat Gan and works as a guide for Tanzania and Lapland photo tours.

Scratch my belly! Photo by Elinor Roizman/Dog-Ma Photography

This was the first time Roizman entered the Kennel Club contest, having learned of it when Greer won in 2017. “I didn’t believe I would win but I wanted to try,” she says.

“Each participant can send only one picture per category so I asked a lot of people to help me choose. It’s one of the hardest contests because you cannot manipulate the photo in any way,” Roizman tells ISRAEL21c.

She chose her picture of Lili for the “Dogs at Play” category and also sent entries for the portrait and puppies categories.

A black-and-white pooch among colorful flowers in Israel. Photo by Elinor Roizman/Dog-Ma Photography

“Three months ago I got a call from London, and when they told me I won, I was so excited I could hardly speak,” says Roizman. She will travel to London in September, shortly before her 28th birthday, to see her photo exhibited in the Kennel Club Art Gallery in Mayfair.

A dog in an Israeli pomegranate orchard. Photo by Elinor Roizman/Dog-Ma Photography

As a category winner, Roizman gets a SmugMug business account, a one-day course with Nikon School London, and an original painting of her winning picture.

“I didn’t even ask about prizes. It’s just a really big honor to win this contest because my work will be publicized all over the world,” says Roizman.