Old Faithful: The soulful beauty of elderly dogs
QMI Agency
First posted: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 11:16 PM EDT
Photographer Pete Thorne explains his charming photos that capture the old soul beauty of senior dogs:
Last year my grandmother turned 100 (now 101!), and I became interested in photographing older subjects after a trip to Halifax to photograph her birthday party. It occurred to me, while I was thinking of what kind of older subject I would like to work with, that I should photograph old dogs as they are generally overlooked by photographers in favour of cute puppies. Donít get me wrong, I love puppies too. With this idea in mind I setup a small studio and brought in a friendís dog (Sprout!) who was all grey. I decided to photograph Sprout against a grey backdrop, and the results looked fantastic, more similar to a painting than a photo. Afterwards, I put up a few posters advertising the project just to see if anybody else would be interested in participating. Iíve been flooded with responses ever since
To photograph these old doggies, I usually request that the owner bring their dog's favorite treats and toys to help focus their attention. This doesn't always work as a lot of these old doggies are blind or deaf, possibly both. I found that the trick is to direct the owner; the dog will follow. It can be quite a comical scene. I'll be low on the ground firing off shots from my camera while the owner is crawling around on the floor with me trying to get the dog pointed in the right direction. I tend to shoot in small sessions as I donít want to stress any of the old dogs, and I know when I got the shot that I want. I end up with a few different looks for each dog. Each of these looks projects a different element of that dog's personality and so it helps to get a good bio or testimonial from the owners so that I can match the image that best suits to their personality as stated in the bio written by their owner.
The testimonials, often quite touching and humorous, have inadvertently become a big part of the project. I now encourage participants to submit something written about their dog when they contact me about participating in the project.
To be honest, I was a little naÔve coming into the project. My first draft of the poster was titled ďI Shoot Old Dogs," and I'm glad I didnít post that one. I thought I would simply photograph some old dogs, choose the ones that look like caricatures of old guys and gals, and that would be it. It wasnít until I started hearing about dogs that I had photographed passing away and having their owners notify me, telling me about their loss, that I realized just how significant and close people become with their pets. A lot of the stories of these dogs involve rescuing them from pet-mills, foreign countries, and from threats of being put down, so I think the key to a longer and more substantial canine life really just comes down to the love and caring that these old doggies receive from their parents.
-Pete Thorne is a commercial/editorial photographer. More of his work can be found on his website.
Old Faithful: The soulful beauty of elderly dogs | PHOTO GALLERY | Canada | News