| 101 Salivations |
By Rachael Hale
Genre: Non Fiction
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On a brisk walk through the park one morning, I found Darcy, a tiny, trembling angel on my feet. We were friends from the start, but it was a bond born from fear rather than friendship.
A few minutes before, Darcy, a Dachshund, had been trotting nonchalantly along the path in a leafy inner-city park. That was until she spied us approachingme flanked by two strapping Newfoundlands named Henry and George.
When Darcy clapped eyes on these two hulking beasts ambling towards her, she mustered all the speed she had in her miniature legs and sought refuge. But rather than turn on her heels, she ran straight for us. In a flash, she had scooted between my legs and planted herself on top of my feet, burying her claws into the flesh for further solace. An inch or so taller and a pinch bolder, Darcy could finally eyeball the big dogs, by now bewildered by the little one's dash to safety atop my toes.
It was chance meetings like this one in the park, or on windswept beaches and street corners, that helped me fill the pages of this book with the incredibly diverse range of personalities, shapes, and sizes one encounters in the dog world. In my quest to find 101 special dogs, I often approached dog owners who were meandering through parks that I visited every day with my dog, Henry Miller. When I asked if I could capture their dogs on film, every one of them replied, "Yes, yes, we'd love you to."
Perhaps their enthusiasm stemmed from the pride and sheer joy they get from their dogs; maybe they wanted to share the love they hold for their animals with us, in the hope that we may see our own cherished hounds reflected in their images.
My earliest memories of photography are taking snaps of the family pets. Looking back it was perhaps inevitable that I would end up in this wonderful profession. My paternal grandparents were both keen amateur photographers who traveled the world shooting beautiful images.
I still have the "Box Brownies" they owned, and even today I use my grandmother's twin-lens reflex Rolleiflex camera, now more than 70 years old. It's been driven over and dropped down stairs, yet still takes exquisite shots.
I shot most of the images for this book using a 4 x 5 inch large-format camera, like the old fashioned box with the black cape over the back. I love the images it createsyou can almost reach into the picture and feel the animal's fur. The shallow depth of field is incredible; it draws you to the dog, especially its eyes. Yet, using the large-format camera is probably the most difficult way to capture animals on film. If the dog moves, which they are inclined to do often and without warning, you have to take the film out and refocus. It's a true game of patience, not point and shoot. But it's what I'm used to working with, and what I really enjoy.
Some dogs go beyond the call of duty to please the lens. Take, for example, Bruno the Spinone Italiano. Bruno was 18 months old and everything you could ask for in a manyoung, active and very intelligent.
When we asked him to chomp down on a cigar we expected him to spit it out just as fast. At first he did just that, unimpressed with the taste of a cigarwhich, I can assure you, was unlit. With gaffer tape wound around one end, Bruno readily accepted the cheroot between his teeth. With his paws crossed, Bruno looked like a genuine Mafiosoall that was missing was a gold chain! It would not have worked with just any dog; you have to find one with the right attitude.
I am always mindful that you cannot force animals to do anything they do not want to?you can lead a dog to the lens, but you cannot make him grin. Even when owners are begging their dogs to perform for the camera, I would never put an animal through any stress to obtain a certain look. But there are ways to hurdle tricky situations, if you keep your wits about you. I am sure I have earned a degree in animal psychology from this experience!
I don't believe in the old cliché: don't work with animals or children. I have worked with both, and I've adored them equally. I love dogs, especially, for their innocence and their unconditional love. It's a hard to imagine life without the joy and companionship they bring. I consider myself on of the luckiest people on earth to be able to combine my two passionsanimals and photography. And I would be happy if I could do this for the rest of my life, with my beloved Henry at my side.
Excerpted from 101 Salivations , by Rachael Hale . Copyright (c) 2003 by Rachel Hale Photography Limited. Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY. All rights reserved.Back to top