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The Dog Show Project

by Bruce Deacon LRPS


In photography, as with life in general, it is good to set yourself a goal. Here, Bruce Deacon talks about project-based photography and the inspiration behind his latest work in progress, combining his enjoyment of capturing the moment with his love of man's best friend!...


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"I don’t know if it is just me, but I sometimes feel that I am in a photographic rut and lacking direction.

I was in this predicament when I decided to join the RPS and, with the encouragement of others, set myself the target of working towards my first distinction, an LRPS.  

I learnt a lot of new skills during this process, particularly on the subject of processing my images and was delighted when I was awarded the distinction in 2018."


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"Fired up with this success, I decided to embark upon a couple of other photographic projects.  

The first was to document the work of a friend, Felicity Irons, who is one of the last English rush weavers keeping alive a craft that remains unchanged since Anglo Saxon times.

She uses crops she harvests herself from a punt on the rivers Ouse, Ivel and Cam.  

This project is still very much work in progress."




"The second project which fired my imagination began after reading about British social documentary photographer Shirley Baker (1932–2014).

In particular, it was her photographs taken mainly at Manchester Dog Shows between 1961 and 1978 that interested me.

Dog shows are still very popular and, being a 'doggy person' myself, I wanted to see how things might have changed over the past 40–50 years."

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"I have been to a number of shows so far and have found that the 'Dog Show' environment is proving to be a  fertile subject for a project.

My aim, as with Shirley Baker's work, is not to capture the typical show photographs of champion dogs, but to capture the essence of the dog show environment."




"Away from the show ring and the scrutiny of the judge, I wander around the rows of cubicles in which the dogs and their owners wait for their turn in the spotlight.  

This provides me with great opportunities to capture the sometimes humorous studies of owners and their dogs.

I suppose it is a bit like street photography in that you have to be quick to spot and capture the study when it presents itself.

It is this sort of spontaneous photography that I enjoy."

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"I have found that whilst breeds of dog have evolved or fallen in and out of favour, and the fashions of their owners have changed over the past 40 or so years, the essence of the dog show environment and the relationship and interactions of the owners with their dogs remains much the same.

Again, this project is very much a work in progress and maybe it will have the potential to become an ARPS Panel in the future – who knows?"


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Thanks to Bruce for sharing his thoughts, ideas and images, providing us with some inspiration to translate into projects of our own.  



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