Thursday, June 27, 2013
I mostly like taking pictures of dogs. As of late, I have been wandering outside during the daylight hours to take pictures of dogs. Canines behave differently outside than they do in a photo studio outfitted with pristine seamless backdrops, an array of strobe lights, and a photographer nearby (me) aiming a lens directly at them. Liberated from the studio, I am more inclined to toss a pinch of poetic license into the mix. My creativity often spikes during the editing process in the wee hours of the night, while I am doodling and noodling in Photoshop.
Interrelationships between humans and canines have a long history. As species go, dogs and people mostly accept each others' quirks. Here is a charming picture I took at an event sponsored by the local SPCA. It took place outdoors in March; the temperature in central Florida was atypically chilly. The dog and human pictured below dressed appropriately—cute, very cute indeed.
The following week, I tested out a new telephoto zoom lens at a dog park. Curious to see how fast and accurate the combination of my eye, camera, and lens would perform, I searched for interesting and fleeting scenes. Conceptually, my intent was to capture social interactions among domestic dogs in an open space.
The trio of strangers pictured above got along well from the onset. These dogs knew and accepted their social ranks. The Great Dane obviously commanded respect and admiration. So confident, she allowed lesser dogs—a white Pit Bull and a brown Pit Bull pup to engage in a convivial meet-and-greet. Quirky? This situation appears vulgar to most people, but not to dogs.
People use conversation, eye contact, and body language to make and rate new acquaintances. Dogs sniff, lick, and employ signals with their ears and tails while sizing up each other. A stranger dog only greets an unfamiliar dog with direct eye contact to assert dominance. If the other dog disagrees, a fight ensues.
Everyone I know who is close to a companion dog deals with their pet on human terms, especially when in the company of other dog lovers. However, when dogs are free to romp in a dog park, we tend to dissociate ourselves from them. Ironically, people often perceive dogs interacting with other dogs as vulgar. Tussling about in the dirt, sniffing, snorting, licking each others' orifices, and mouthing detritus in full view falls way outside acceptable human behavior.
The picture below is an abstract interpretation of vulgarity. It started out as a picture that I took at the dog park.
I strive to avoid anthropomorphizing dogs. Intellectually, I realize dogs are simply dogs. Whatever I perceive as vulgar is my baggage, not theirs.
This dog's human companion unabashedly engages in a public display of affection. Dog behaviorists unanimously agree that dogs do not like to be hugged. Hugging is what primates do to express their feelings towards each other. Dogs do not hug each other.