Thursday, July 21, 2011


The entry on color snapshots was a resounding success and I thank everyone for their positive comments to me about it.  While this selection has some returning contributors, there are  new collectors who are sharing their photo and thoughts as well.  Thanks to everyone for contributing to this entry on one of the most common subjects to be found in a snapshot.

Snapshots are about taking photos of things you love, things you see and have experienced, and things you have purchased.  A snapshot of a dog is a surrogate for all of those things.  To love a pet is to photograph that pet.  And one of the most popular pets to own and photograph is a dog. And such photos often tell you as much about the owner as they do about the pet itself.  Dog photos are timeless because the relationship between the owner and the animal hasn’t changed much since the dawn of the snapshot.  The advent of computer usage hasn’t compromised or altered how we love our pets.  We don’t share things with our dogs via Facebook or communicate with them via Twitter.   Dogs require physical not digital contact.   And nothing takes the place of petting your dog or playing with it-- not even a snapshot.  This entry is not about a collector’s favorite photo of his or her dog, but rather a favorite photo of a dog they never loved or knew. The reasons why a snapshot collector would have a dog (or any kind of pet) photo in their collection is quite varied as you will see as you read on.

Next month is what is your favorite beach photo.

The photos below are in no particular order and Joel Rotenberg and Mark Rotenberg are not related.  Enjoy!

I am a sucker for photos of anything flying through the air. I think it is because I respond visually to formalism in photography and oftentimes objects in flight framed against the sky are formally strong.  Such imagery elicits a visceral response at first glance and this photo is a good example of that.  My love of this photo postcard isn’t really due to a dog being the main subject of the photograph. Rather, this is a favorite of mine because the camera has caught the perfect moment of flight (halfway between where the object was and where it is going) with the animal being so clearly framed against a neutral background.  And to see the man and his pet nearly eye to eye is startling and an added bonus. 

Robert E. Jackson

Some dog in a camping trailer - I don't know all that much about dogs.  Somebody told me dogs are pack animals. I mean, they run around in packs.

One day I went out back of my house and there were these two dogs, and they had one of my sheep in lock down. One dog had him by the nose, and the other dog had him by the asshole.  Those are, somebody told me, the tender parts. 

Well, I shooed those dogs away, and ever afterward (well, until I took him to the slaughterhouse), that poor sheep had two holes in his snout, where the one dog had him. I never looked at his asshole to see if he had any scars there.

Listen, I am a cat person.  A cat couldn't be bothered.  If it wants something (most of the cats are its, nowadays), it'll let you know.  Otherwise, mind your own business. 

To me, a dog is always sucking up.  My friend says that's not true---the dog just thinks you're the alpha dog, and expects you to tell it what to do.  If it gets the idea it's the alpha dog, it'll tell you what to do.

Anyway, if I was stuck on a desert island (why is it always a "desert" island? why couldn't it be a tropical paradise island?), I would take a dog.  A cat would have fish and crabs, and it wouldn't need me.  It would go off and be by itself. 

As far as why I chose this photo---I give all the dog photos to my sister, I just happened to have this one lying around. I  do like that white line.  I like the frame within a frame.  I like the tilt.  Oh all right, I kept this little photo for myself.  I have got dozens more to give my sister.

John Van Noate aka Mr. Waterslide on Flickr

Nice job by someone. As usual, though, it’s difficult to know if we’re taking it in the spirit in which it was intended. One imagines the witty tinter is the same as the witty photographer whose shadow we see, but the wit may very well have actually been mere childishness in both cases. Most of the humor comes from the way the tinter has emphasized the intrusive and irrelevant elements—that is, their intrusiveness and irrelevance. But somehow I doubt it was meant as a joke. As I reconstruct the tinting, it was perfectly logical. The dog, the primary subject and central element, came first. Then the tinter thought the hand was too strong a presence to ignore. Finally, the house was added for balance. Note the second and third shadows. 

Joel Rotenberg

We think of photographs as proof of existence / truth, alive or current although we know that the subject in the image has aged and not current at all, perhaps even decided.

Looking back at  the newness of the silhouette photo it is plain to see that it has a similar path as the photogram in that it was a new creative way to use the camera. It started and then just influenced other photographers and hobbyists to follow. The subject matter was limited to humans, doing all sorts of things reading, smoking pipes, playing guitars, kissing, even sitting with pets but in a very short period of time the ideas and the newness of the silhouette was unfashionable. I believe it would have lasted longer and morphed into something else once the human was removed and opened the door for still lifes, flower arrangements as happened with the photogram. The use of the animal as the sitter seems like a start to me. It would be as if you had Fido's portrait painted in shades of grey. Still living due to the indirect soft focus.

I have over a thousand vintage and antique images of children with dogs. I chose this candid snapshot because it captures an aspect of the child/dog relationship that almost never comes through in a photograph – the joy of simply being together and quietly communing. You know from this image that this boy and this dog are best friends -- they romp and wrestle, run and swim, play fetch and tug-of-war, and that at night the dog probably sleeps at the foot of the boy’s bed.  This shot was a lucky one for the snapshooter, who happened along at just the right moment.

In addition to showing the essence of what it means to love a dog and have the dog love you back, this snapshot has all the attributes of a great image -- composition, content, clarity, contrast, and condition -- making it a lucky find for me. I wish I knew who the photographer was.

Yes, folks, meet Snooki, the original 1920s Jersey Shore dog-about-town. In his day, this playful rogue was a dashing, debonaire doggie with swagger and style. Always on the lookout for a good time, or misplaced bone, this perspicacious pup was ahead of his time, sporting the first pair of Foster Grant sunglasses made expressly for the charismatic canine. Born a lowly, carousing quadruped, Snooki strove to elevate himself in life and, after a protracted period of bow-wow debauchery, he devoted himself to a life of upright actions and higher vision.

I've had this photo a long time and remember paying 10 cents for it a flea market in Florida.  I love the very serious look and upright posture of the white dog and what looks to me like a laugh and a relaxed position of the dark dog.  I don't know what the hand is doing.

Clare Goldsmith - has been collecting photos since 1997, and her collection has been shown at Panopticon Gallery in Massachusetts.

A primal howl, domesticated by the pet owner with a camera.

Maria DiElsi

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


In 2005, my friend Maria DiElsi, received thousands of negatives, prints and photographic ephemera belonging to Alexander Artway, a man who emigrated to the United States from Russia in 1922.
Throughout his life, Artway made photographs.  He left an archive of over 5000 negatives and prints of Russia, New York, Philadelphia, and more - each one meticulously crafted and beautifully conceived.  Most were made during the 1930's and range from iconic images of Manhattan to earthy illustrations of his Russian family working the land.

Maria is raising funds through Kickstarter to organize an exhibition of his vintage prints, along with contemporary prints made from his negatives; and to produce and illustrated biography/exhibition catalog using Artway's own photos to tell his sory and the history of an era.

On September 23, 2011, Gallery 1125 in Philadelphia will be hosting a premier exhibition of The Artway Project featuring vintage prints as well as contemprary silver prints made from vintage negatives.  Please take a looke at the photos and video below and help in getting this important show made.

I hope to see you at the show!
Stacy Waldman