Elliott Erwitt: Dogs


When asked in interview about his interests, Elliott Erwitt always says that he likes children and dogs. Whilst he was undertaking a fashion shoot for women’s shoes, he decided to photograph the shoes from the perspective of the owner’s dogs. One of Erwitt’s earliest canine portraits, New York City (1946), typically panders to the dog’s view, making an absurd comparison between the enormous owner and the tiny companion. The dog portraits play on the common conflation of dogs’ personalities and that of their owners, casting a puckish but sympathetic eye across the idiosyncratic, loyal pets paraded through city streets.

Elliott’s dogs may be eager or shy, regal or reserved, but they always photographed with the respect afforded usually only to their human counterparts. In 1998, Phaidon Press published Elliott Erwitt’s book Dog Dogs, which presented more than five hundred of his canine photographs. As Erwitt said about the publication, “This is not a book of dog pictures but of dogs in pictures.” In his opinion, it is the photograph which matters, more so than the subject. His sentimental, and amusing photographs of dogs are also visually impactful in composition, light, and focus, attesting to his strong ability as a photographer to transform the mundane into memorable images.

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