As an amateur photographer, I challenged myself recently to photograph seven dogs in one frame. As would be expected, the effort that goes into getting animals to cooperate with one’s creative vision can be a monumental task — particularly when those creatures aren’t use to taking cues from humans. That ole saw, “it’s like herding cats” comes to mind.
While my work is still a work in progress, the award-winning photographer Claire Rosen makes this art-form seem like a piece of cake . . . or should I say, a table full of cake.
Like Walking Into A Dream
In her new book Imaginarium, Rosen combines fairy-tale-like imagery with an imaginative take on the natural world. One of the most inspirational themes she dubbed ‘Fantastical Feasts’ is a series where she positions dozens of different species at fantastical dinner tables.
Positioned as if attending their very own last suppers, she invites cockatoos, horses, hedgehogs and monkeys in horizontal poses for meals, which are a treat for the eye and soul.
The intent of the series is to encourage viewers to consider those in the animal kingdom more humanly, affording them more rights and status.
“To see animals humanely sometimes requires us to see them as human-like,” characterizes Rosen.
“By placing animals in a setting typically reserved for humans, it raises the question of whether we may have more in common than we admit. The feasts invite the viewers to reflect on the nature of society, our relationship and responsibility to the creatures we share the planet with,” she adds.
Herding Cats . . . erh, Dogs
Anyone who has photographed animals knows that even the most organized shoots don’t exactly turn out the way we plan. Then adding the additional component of anthropomorphizing these subjects adds yet another level of complexity.
“You prepare and set everything up and then you have to surrender and hope for the best since you don’t really know what’s going to happen,” Rosen said. “And what usually happens is a surprise and better than what you thought it would be.”
When I herded “The McCaffree Bunch” - a canine family of mixed breeds that included hounds and Jack Russell Terriers, my task was made somewhat easier by the fact these dogs all knew each other. My greater challenge was to get them to stay in position and look in one direction. And as you can see from this capture, one might say I was 80-percent successful.
Differing from Rosen’s approach, my follow-up to the above photograph was to re-imagine pet owners’ Melanie and Brian McCaffree’s canine clan into one of America’s iconic TV Show.
. . . and I’ll leave it up to you, readers if I hit the mark?