Chinese Year of the Dog • Elliott Erwitt • Magnum Photos

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The Year of the Dog Dogs

Elliot Erwitt in his own words

Elliott Erwitt

Elliott Erwitt | Dog Dogs Small dog standing by woman. New York City, USA. 1946. © Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos
Elliott Erwitt | Dog Dogs Bulldog looking up at leg. New York City, USA. 1989. © Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos
Elliott Erwitt | Dog Dogs Poodle. Birmingham, England. 1991. © Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos
Elliott Erwitt Two dogs waiting by car. New York City, USA. 1953. © Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos
Elliott Erwitt | Dog Dogs Figure with dog over shoulder. Ireland. 1968. © Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos
Elliott Erwitt | Dog Dogs Woman carrying dog in bag. Athens, Greece. 1972. © Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos
Elliott Erwitt | Dog Dogs Dog jumping in the air. Zurich, Switzerland. 1991. © Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos
Elliott Erwitt | Dog Dogs Amy Erwitt. New York City, USA. 1988. © Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos
Elliott Erwitt | Dog Dogs Group of children playing instruments with spaniel. New York City, USA. 1960. © Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos
Elliott Erwitt | Dog Dogs Dog leaning over booth. New York City, USA. 1953. © Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos
Elliott Erwitt | Dog Dogs Dogs looking out of window. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. 1990. © Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos
Elliott Erwitt | Dog Dogs Child patting dog. Hastings on Hudson, New York, USA. 1960. © Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos
Elliott Erwitt | Dog Dogs Dog looking out of window. 1967. © Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos

In this extract from a text written by the Magnum photographer, originally published in a book of his dog photographs, Elliot Erwitt explains why dogs went from an incidental part of his photographic practice to producing some of his most famous works.

“I am a professional photographer by trade and an amateur photographer by vocation. Most of the time when I am out of the house I carry a small unobtrusive camera and I snap away obsessively at things that interest me and whatever I think would make a good picture. Until recently, I have never especially set out to take dog pictures but somehow dogs appeared in large numbers on my contact sheets. A few years back while looking through my inventory of pictures to assemble a retrospective book and exhibition of random photographs taken on my travels, I was surprised by the preponderance of dogs. Obviously, my sympathy for the creatures was deeper than I had imagined.

"I don’t know of any other animals closer to us in qualities of heart, sentiment and loyalty"

- Elliott Erwitt

Many of the dogs pictured must have looked appealing to me in their exotic settings, other dogs were appealing in reasonably well-composed photographs and some others seemed to transcend their easy obvious charm and to have allegorical connotations to us humans and our human condition. As I think about this now, my comments don’t sound particularly surprising. I don’t know of any other animals closer to us in qualities of heart, sentiment and loyalty. Some people say elephants come close. Personally, I find elephants too bulky, unwieldy and inaccessible for everyday photography and not at all cuddly or attractive with those big long noses. Besides, they do not roam the streets in every town and country like dogs do. And dogs make easy, uncomplaining targets without the self-conscious hang-ups and possible objections of humans caught on film.” – Elliot Erwitt, Dog Dogs, 2008.