Showsight - July 2021


Many of today’s photographers go back to those days of old film and development. They are the men and women who truly developed the “eye” for the best picture of the dog. For a show photographer, producing high-quality photos was the only way to succeed in the business. In those days, photos were mostly taken in the ring, and the wonderful backdrops that we see today were not present. Likewise, the lighting and conditions also affected the outcome. There was not the ability to crop or lighten and darken photos as we have today. What they shot is what you got, for bet- ter or worse. Today, technology has become a great asset in the dog show photography world. Digital cameras allow today’s photographers to take numerous shots and review them instantly to see that everything looks as it should. If it doesn’t, they can take another while the judge, the dog, and the handler are still present. Tech- nology, whether you see it as good or bad, also allows them to do this thing called “Photoshop.” They can make corrections to the sign if something was forgotten, and they can crop and enhance the colors and make little adjustments to make the dog look its best. (Some of these people are even very good at eliminating a tongue hanging out, helping to fix a topline or altering little things to make the photo “perfect.”) They can also send the owners either printed or digital copies of the wins, which can be used in advertisements or just as addi- tions to our recorded history of each dog—to be preserved forever in print or on the cloud. As a breeder, owner, and exhibitor, I cherish many of these win photos and I have books and books of them. They are wonderful memories of the dogs we have loved and lost as well as those special wins that keep us coming back. Although in today’s world we can all take instant photos or videos of our dogs in the ring, it is only the official photographer who is allowed to take those official win photos at the shows. Exhibitors need to respect these individuals and their profession. You should not stand behind the photographer and try to take the same shot with your cell phone. When you do that, you are violating copyright laws and could be subject to lawsuits from the photographer. Almost every premium list identifies the show pho- tographer and indicates that only the official photographer can take the official win pictures. Just like any other professional, these people bring value to the dog show world and have been doing so for a very long time. Most show photographers are very warm and considerate peo- ple who are trying very hard to provide the exhibitors with the best possible picture of their wins. These people are patient individu- als who are supplying you with a service. Their time, equipment, and investment in their business need to be respected. When you request a winning photo, you are taking up the time of the judge as well as that of the photographer—and his expertise. You should never take a photo if you have no intention of purchasing it. Some people think that a judge will be offended if they don’t request a photo. As a judge of over 35 years, I can tell you that this is not the case. If a judge is offended because you did not take a photo, shame on him or her. Photos are wonderful memories, but as we all know, they cost money. If an exhibitor chooses not to take a photo of each win, it should not matter to the judge. Every exhibitor does not have an unlimited budget and each one has a reason to choose to have a photo taken or not. Remember that the official photographer is there for you. The knowledge, experience, and high-quality equipment they use will give you great memories to preserve for all time. Preserve your memories; they are the history of your journey.

As with many things, technology has improved and now you will find it difficult to even find film for your old cameras. Kodak is no longer a giant in the industry, and digital and cell phones have taken over photography. Photo and video technologies are avail- able instantly for the majority of people. Today, people use their cell phones to record or photograph almost everything. Preserving every event in our lives is now very inexpensive and it fills a lot of memory on our computers and devices. Many people no longer print and save pictures in those old photo albums that we used to have to hold and store somewhere. Many of us old-timers have numerous volumes of our own or those that were passed down to us, and we cherish every memory of days gone by. Those memories are precious and they bring great enjoyment to so many of us. It is also true that in the sport of purebred dogs, photographs have a long and storied history of preserving the past as well as the present. Among the most overlooked (but very much involved) people at any dog show are the official photographers. These indi- viduals play a vital role at each show in the preservation of memo- ries for many owners, breeders, and exhibitors in our sport. It is the official photographer who takes those win photos that so many of us save to preserve as a recorded history of our successes in the show ring. Dog show photographers can vary greatly in experience, knowl- edge, and ability. They must learn the different breeds so that they can capture them at their best. A good photographer needs to know what the proper stack is. Does the breed standard specify how the ears are to be held? And does it need to show expression? What is called for in the toplines and tails, and so on? The official photographer’s job is to try to make the exhibit look its very best. For many years, these talented people also used the film that was previously mentioned. They did not have the luxury to be able to look at the photos until they were developed. So, for many years, even though the majority of their shots were wonderful, it was not uncommon for there to be a “dud” now and then because of a split- second movement that spoiled the picture. Back in those days, you would receive proofs in the mail for you to review and order the picture you wanted. In most cases, there were usually two shots to choose from because, as mentioned earlier, the high cost of film and development did not allow for unlimited shots of the win. “AS A BREEDER, OWNER, AND EXHIBITOR, I CHERISH MANY OF THESE WIN PHOTOS AND I HAVE BOOKS AND BOOKS OF THEM. THEY ARE WONDERFUL MEMORIES OF THE DOGS WE HAVE LOVED AND LOST AS WELL AS THOSE SPECIAL WINS THAT KEEP US COMING BACK.”


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