Elliott Erwitt dog exercise

This is one of those exercises that got me thinking more about the process than the actual image.

The image is all about threes and thirds. The image is spilt into 3 from top to bottom, side to side and front to back. We have three subjects – a large dog, of which we only see the front legs, a woman (I think) from the bottom of her tailored coat down through her knee high leather boots, and a tiny dog, with the only eyes that we see, dressed in a coat and hat. Foreground, in front of them, is wet ground, the mid ground is still distinguishable as ground though slightly blown out from light on the wet ground, and the background, still blown (at least in this reproduction) has trees and some kind of structure (bus stop? phone box?) The only face that we as viewers get to engage with is the little dog’s, and that makes me wonder about the faces of the woman and the larger dog, are they cocked to one side with jaunty hats too? Are they interacting with Elliott or are they just waiting while he interacts with the smallest dog? I like how we see the woman’s coat tails and boots, and the dog’s hat and coat, does she take as much pride in her dog’s appearance and care for his comfort as much as she does for her own?

Then of course I read the next paragraph in the course notes and saw how much I’d missed. So questions that I could be asking myself are:

  • What can I see? Main subject? other subjects?
  • Where are the subjects within the frame?
  • How is the image composed?
  • Is it cropped?
  • What can we tell about the subjects?
  • What can we tell about the photographer from how they’ve chosen to make the image?
  • How do I feel when I look at the image?
  • What do I think when I look at the image?

Doing this exercise prompted me to return to “Reading Photographs” by Richard Salkeld.

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