A Howling Good Time

By: Andrew McGivern, curator of exhibitions on May 19th, 2010

Taking a professional portrait photograph isn’t easy. The subject poses for the camera and multiple shots often are required from various angles and light settings just to get the photograph right.

If the subject is a young child, this process is that much more difficult, especially if the child has to hold a pose for any length of time.

Now change the subject to a dog and add an audience of up to 50 elementary students, their teachers, chaperones, and visitors to the mix, and you have a feel for what it was like for photographer Butch McCartney during his residency at the Woodson Art Museum last week.

Over a four day-period, Butch demonstrated his photographic techniques to more than 1000 students and visitors. He explained how dogs don’t easily pose and so you just have to take what they give you.

While observing Butch at work, I realized there’s a lot more to it than waiting for an energetic pooch to give you something to shoot. Check out this video and you’ll know what I mean.

Butch uses certain tricks to capture his canine subjects’ attention. As dog owners maneuvered their pets into good positions, Butch would begin to howl and yelp, which made most dogs stop, stare at him, and turn their heads in an inquisitive fashion.

Needless to say, students and visitors had a howling good time and Butch enjoyed himself as much as we enjoyed having him at the Art Museum.

You can view some of the photographs Butch took while in residence at the Woodson Art Museum by following this link.

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