Still life with dogs Part 1

Still life with dogs

Before I became a wedding and family photographer I was an artist. I still am an artist. I do my best to find the time in my busy life to continue to create art for myself. I may not paint anymore but I do like to use my new medium; my new love; photography.

I started taking these photos when I was testing out photography backdrops in my studio. My dogs would immediately come in and lay down on the backdrops, treating them as a bed or a mat. They do of course just like to “be” around me no matter what I’m doing, as all dog owners would know. I started to think about life with dogs and how they are always around. As an artist I saw these pictures of my dogs as still life. Pictures of everyday “goings on” with the dogs. I restrained myself from posing the dogs as I normally would in a pet photography session and just let them be as they are, doing the things that they do; for example scratching or sleeping, or just watching me, and waiting.  The dark backgrounds with dramatic window light began as a look I was testing out for paid work. But  I found it to be quite fitting for the still life theme, so I continued with it. Using natural light only for these first images, I had to increase the ISO to accommodate for the low lighting conditions along with the natural movements of the dogs; this gave the photos a grainy and painterly look. To further add to the still life look,  I started to add everyday objects from the home onto the backdrops and to let the dogs just be there next to them doing what they do.

These first images are of Jessie only. I have two dogs; Bundy a Ridgeback x Bull Mastiff who we got as a 6 week old puppy, and Jessie, a scruffy staffy x  who we adopted when she was in need of a new home at the age of one. While I don’t know for sure what happened to Jessie in her life before she came to us, I know that life was not as good as it is now. Jessie was very lucky to come into our home and to receive the love and attention that she had been neglected of in the past.

While I describe these images as still life, they are also portraits. I believe that portraits can be so much more than an image of our outer self. They do speak so much of our personalities, our souls, our experiences, and memories. Somewhere in these dark portraits of Jessie, particularly as she scratches, and stops, and stares back at me; I see something of her past, I see that she did suffer.