“Being a photographer of dogs…I always felt there needed to be a more intelligent representation of the animal than the cute and fluffy images you tend to see online,” says Martin Usborne – photographer, publisher, and now picture editor of a book called Really Good Dog Photography.
A collaboration between Hoxton Mini Press, which Usborne co-founded with Ann Waldvogel, and Penguin Books, Really Good Dog Photography contains work by some well-known, and sometimes surprising photographers, such as Alec Soth, Peter Hujar, Elliot Erwitt, and Ruth van Beek. It took “lots of looking” to put it together, says Usborne, and he enlisted Marta Roca, creative director of Four & Sons magazine, to help. BJP contributor Lucy Davies added interviews with many of the photographers plus a thoughtful introductory essay.
“We wanted photographers who had produced a number of images of dogs – images that had a consistent theme or were held together by a project or concept,” says Usborne. “We were also looking for something more than the typically attractive, sharply-focussed amateur shots of dogs as pets. Nothing wrong with these but they’ve been seen many times before. Furthermore, there are more stray dogs in the world than pet dogs so we didn’t want too many labradors running through Surrey fields.
“[We included] Any photography that was ‘good’ according to our definition – unusual, intelligent, artistic,” he adds. “Obviously it’s entirely subjective! We wanted to avoid the overly cute or stereotypical. Anything that would make the viewer consider dogs in a new and interesting way. No dressed up pooches.”