This is great for me, Elliott Erwitt is one of my all time favourite photographers. I have his book personal best by teNeues in hard back. The image in question has a double spread in the book so is larger than in the course booklet and its’ quality is superior in respect of print and clarity. The course notes say the small dog is the main subject of focus, but I have to disagree. I feel the 2 dogs and the walker are the main subjects. is it their legs, is it their coats. The sharpest object in the frame is the walker’s coat.
The image is clearly meant to create some humour and a little confusion at first glance. It is one image that makes you want to look again. The smaller of the two dogs certainly draws your eye and makes you study the image (studium according to Barthes). But what is the punctum. What pricks the conscious into making this an image I can relate to other than one I just like. The punctum in this image is the dog’s left eye.
Why is it veering off course. What is it looking at? Does he/she feel daft dressed up that way. Is the bigger dog wearing a hat? if not why not? Is the walker wearing a hat? What is the dog’s name? The questions go on…..
The three subjects have clearly been shot from low down, and are well positioned centrally in the frame and a shallow depth of focus has helped to create the feeling of being there. The subjects are well-lit, but dark against a blown out background. The small dog’s lead adds to the almost symmetrical feel to the image, but it is the lack of complete symmetry that adds to the appeal of the image fo me. This just adds a bit of further interest.
I have looked at Erwitt’s other photographs with dogs in them, to see if there is a reoccurring theme, regarding how they are framed, but I cannot spot one. What is apparent is his timing, his love of humour, people and dogs. His timing is reminiscent of the Cartier-Bresson “decisive moment” influence .
I do not quite agree with the thirds argument posed in the course material, for me the image is more symmetrical. But what is perfectly clear, as with any photo, is that the information is all there from the outset, but the information may lead to many, many more questions, some of which will be objective ones and some will be subjective.
I love this image and I now have an understanding, maybe subconsciously, why I like Erwitt so much. I believe he also has an interest in the Holocaust. There are two images in his book, one taken in the gas chambers at Auschwitz I ( I have a similar image) and another taken at the front gates of Auschwitz – Birkenau II. I am also a keen dog lover and therefore he is an obvious choice for me. It is also due to the quality of his work and the sense of timing and being there his image install in me.
On to project 2