Exploring masters – It’s all about dogs

I am discovering recently that I am missing certain familiarity with famous past and modern photographers and well known, or not so well known, classic photographs. Yes, I would recognize man jumping over a puddle by Henri Cartier-Bresson and made the connection between similar photographs and this one, and the migrant mother by Dorothea Lange, but that’s about it. After not being able even to hypothesize on this question posed by Sabrina Henry and being challenged by this artistic exercise by Brooks Jensen, I decided it’s high time to do something about it.

I am not sure if this will become a series on blog, but it might as well. If it will, expect more of the reading, or “viewing” list more than in-depth critique or book review. Just some thoughts.

Today, I am looking photography by Elliott Erwitt.
Why I chose him? It was because the two key words caught my eye when I was reading about him on somebody’s blog (I cannot recall now where it was): “humorous” and “dogs”. Yes, it is really hard to convince me to study portraits, but dogs? I love dogs, I can do dogs.

The two books I have in front of me- “To the dogs” and “Woof” you can get from local library (like I did), or you can just search for Elliott Erwitt in Google Images.

I looked through those books several times over span of two weeks. Also, if you put your hands on them, I really encourage you to read the editorials before taking a look at the images. Especially the one in “To the dogs”, written by the photographer himself. Really, it will change the way you will see and explore them. I had so much fun seeing how the photographer interpreted the scens, and discovering new interpretations of something which looked totally different to me at the first glance. You can tell, he is a dog person.

I really enjoyed the images of dogs peeking from behind fences or walls and such. Also, the image of Chihuahua standing next to woman’s boots and long legs of Great Dane is one of my favorite. At first I did not even see the long legs of Dane, it hit me after more careful study. No wonder similar concept was recently used as inspiration for this ad of Bona (floor cleaning product). Interestingly, the original image was also created as ad, for woman’s boots! Another of my favorites is a woman walking a dog, shown as a shadow on the brightly lit long, steep stairs. There is something in the aesthetic of the silhouettes and the light-shadow contrast I like. And I have seen this concept many times in various street photography portfolios.

I couldn’t help but notice how Elliott Erwitt uses low point of view to show us the world as dogs see it, using their perspective. This is what the two books are all about- showing dog world from dog perspective. It is actually quite interesting. It is quite popular subject- the dogs, the street dogs, the city dogs, dogs in different cultures… I remember Sabrina Henry working on a project like it during and after her Magnum Workshop. I am also aware of the book by At Wolfe “Dogs make us human”. Especially Art Wolf has totally different take on it, his work more about human-dog interaction than about dogs themselves, as in Elliott Erwitt’s work.

UPDATE – if you want to look at some more images by Elliot Erwitt, take a look at the following:

  • Are you familiar with Elliott Erwitt photography? Do you share his interest in dogs or is it something else you like in his work? Can you think of other dog-centric photography projects? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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