For my maiden blog-post I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on the composite photos I’ve worked on thus far while pursing my Masters degree and how it’s changed this far. I originally titled the project, “The Dogfather” but I’ve changed it to Canis Sapiens; canis like as in canis familiaris the scientific name for dogs and sapiens as in homo sapiens the scientific name for humans; so essentially a play on “dog people” because I want the emphasis more on the dogs and less on a specific “dog-father.”
After beginning this series, I was introduced to the work of composite photographer Julie Blackmon whose own work is inspired by 17th Century Dutch and Flemish Artists who painted domestic scenes full of chaotic children and similarly her composite photographs feature chaotic domestic scenes usually filled with children. Below are a few of my favorites by her:
For my own series, I started off wanting to tell the story of a “dog-father” who lives with and cares for three chaotic dogs that are always involved in whatever domestic task or daily routine he is doing. I wanted it to be kind of a play on the idea that a lot of people in their twenties and thirties are waiting to have children and in place of children always seem to have dogs or cats. So I wanted to push that idea to more or less make the viewer feel like the dogs are more like children than pets; kind of an ironic twist on waiting to have children but having dogs that are children instead.
After my first full graduate critique on the project last spring, I decided to try a little bit of a different direction by not including a human figure into the photos. Most of the feedback from that critique centered around trying to make the dogs act a little bit more like humans and that I might not even need to have a human in the photos either.
After getting some feedback on these last two images, which to me didn’t have the same feeling as the first part of the series (in a where do I go from here that doesn’t involve dressing my dogs up in clothing type of way) I decided to try to go back to these more “domestic, everyday life type of scenes” to see if that felt more genuine.
The last three images I’ve just done on my own outside of actual classes so that’s why there are very few. After the very last image I still feel like I need that human element in them and I do plan on incorporating that back in the work I’m going to be doing this semester. I don’t want the images to feel like a household of dogs that live on their own or something like that; but I’m looking into ways to incorporate that physical human element in interesting ways that don’t make the human turn into the star of the photo.