You’ve probably seen work by Vincent Musi before. He’s a regular National Geographic photographer and his work has covered topics like volcanoes, illegal immigration, global warming, hurricanes and the like. His latest book, though, is quite different in subject matter.
It’s a book about dogs – your average pet pooch – and it’s fabulous.
The Year of the Dogs, says Musi, was never supposed to be about dogs. Looking to decrease his crazy travel schedule and spend more time at home with his son before he and his wife soon became empty-nesters he set up a studio in the back of a pet-food store (called The Unleashed Studio) and started taking photos of friends dogs. (Their family doesn’t actually have one…)
His colleagues scratched their heads. His wife, Callie, an accomplished photographer in her own right, put her schedule on hold and took up the position of overworked photo assistant, expert dog wrangler, and personal psychiatrist. His son Hunter played a crucial role too: he challenged Musi to write stories about the dog photographs and post them to Instagram. Voila! They became a hit. People responded in a huge way. Why? Because dogs are a human connector, because the photos are gorgeous, and because the writing is hilarious. Some will make you laugh, some will make you cry… Many people have traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles with their dogs just to be photographed in Musi’s studio after seeing the work on Instagram.
Eventually there was enough for a book – the result is The Year of the Dogs; over 100 one-of-a-kind dogs from Musi’s year in the studio matched with witty ‘dogographies’ gleaned from his time spent with each subject, or should we say collaborator.
Paging through the book is a delight. You’ll meet, among others, Nugget, Moose, Smokey, Baby Boo, a pug previously known as ‘Meatball’, Oliver Twist, Ellie Bou, Boo-Radley and their canine cohorts. From a Labrador that likes opera to a kleptomaniac miniature golden doodle, and a lovable one-eyed Jack Russell to a farting bulldog and Peetrie, my personal favorite, who looks like he put his paw in an electrical socket for a little too long. Musi captures the unique character and personality of these everyday dogs with 190 evocative images and a gently comic mash-up of his own personal life experiences.
I genuinely struggled to write this review, as I referred back and forth to the book, giggling like a schoolgirl…
The Year of the Dog
The History of Animal Photography
William Wegman’s Lifetime of Weimaraners