A man by all accounts has always had a way to preserve his history. From carvings on cave walls to scrolls, drawings, paintings, photographs, and other objects man has always found a way tokeep a record of his history in our ever-changing and developing world.
As human beings, everyone has some type of recorded history from the cradle to the grave. For most of us, it started at birth when that first photograph of the day we were born was taken. Our life in pictures was often followed by numerous other firsts in our lives. The first steps, first birthday, the first day of school, annual school pictures, certain religious ceremonies, Kindergarten, Elementary, High School, and college graduation. The first dance, the proms, engagements, weddings, and all of the special events in our lives. Preserving our memories has always been a great and valuable part of life. Most of us enjoy sitting down occasionally to view the old photos from our youth, our parents, and our many friends and family from years gone by. Each photo is a captured moment in time that can reignite significant memories from our life.
For those of us born during the twentieth century, these memories vary greatly. During our youth, old-fashioned cameras that used film were used to record those moments. When you took a picture it sat captured on the film until the whole roll had been shot. Eventually, the film was sent to the lab to be developed. This process usually took a few days to a week, and you just hoped that the pictures came out well. If it was moving pictures you wanted they were done on 8mm cameras which were fairly expensive and most people did not own one. Eventually, in the late 1970s and early 1980s video cameras that used VHS or BETA tape were developed and you could now record and preserve those moments almost in an instant. Those early video cameras were large and bulky but you were now able to record all of those special moments in life as home movies.
In the early days' photographs were only taken in black and white and with progress eventually color photos came on the scene. In all cases, you saw the actual photo as it was taken. There were no do-overs and you could not see the pictures until they were developed. Kodak was a huge company back in the day and was known as the best for film, cameras, and developing film.
As with many things technology improved and now you will find it difficult to even find film for your old cameras. Kodak is no longer a giant in the industry and digital and cell phones have taken over the photo industry. Photo and video technologies are available instantly for the majority of people. Today, people use their cell phones to record or photograph almost everything. Preserving every event in our lives is now very inexpensive and fills a lot of memory on our computers and devices. Many people no longer print and save those pictures in the old photo albums that we used to have to hold and store them. Many of us old-timers have numerous volumes of our own or those that were passed down to us to store and cherish those memories of days gone by.
Those memories are precious and bring great enjoyment to so many of us. It is also true that in the sport of purebred dogs photographs have a long and storied history of preserving the past as well as the present.
One of the most overlooked but very much involved people at any dog show is the official photographer. These individuals play a vital role in each show as well as in the preservation of memories for many owners, breeders, and exhibitors in our sport.
It is the official photographer that takes those win photos which so many of us save to preserve a recorded history of our successes in the show ring.
Dog show photographers can vary greatly in experience, knowledge, and ability. They must learn the different breeds so that they can capture them at their best. A good photographer needs to know what the proper stack is, does the breed standard specify how the ears are to be held? and does it need to show expression? what is called for in the toplines and tails, and so on? Their job is to try to make the exhibit look it's very best.
For many years these talented people also used that film that was previously mentioned. They did not have the luxury to be able to look at the photos until they were developed. So for many years even though the majority of their shots were wonderful it was not uncommon for there to be a dud now and then because of a split-second movement that spoiled the picture. Back in those days, you would receive proofs in the mail for you to review and order the picture you wanted. In most cases, there were usually two shots to choose from because as mentioned earlier the high cost of film and development did not allow for unlimited shots of the win.
Many of today's photographers go back to those days of old film and development. These are the men and women that truly developed the eye for the best picture of the dog. For a show photographer producing high-quality photos was the only way to succeed in the business. In those days photos were mostly taken in the ring and the wonderful backdrops we see today were not present. Likewise, the lighting and conditions affected the outcome. There was not the ability to crop, lighten and darken photos like we have today. What they shot is what you got for better or worse.
Today technology has become a great asset in the dog show photography world. Digital cameras allow today's photographers to take numerous shots and to review them instantly to see that everything looks as it should. If it doesn’t they can take another while the judge, the dog, and the handler are still present. Technology whether you see it as good or bad also allows them to do this thing called "PhotoShop". They can make corrections to the sign if something was forgotten, they can crop and enhance the colors and make little adjustments to make the dog look its best. Some of these people are even very good at eliminating a tongue hanging out helping to fix a topline or altering little things to make the photo perfect.
They also can send the owners either printed or digital copies of the wins which can be used in advertisements or just as additions to our recorded history of each dog to be preserved forever in print or the cloud.
As a breeder, owner, and exhibitor I cherish many of these win photos and have books and books of them. They are wonderful memories of the dogs we have loved and lost as well as of those special wins that keep us coming back.
Although in today’s world we can all take instant photos or videos of our dogs in the ring it is only the official photographer that is allowed to take those official win photos at the shows. Exhibitors need to respect these individuals and their profession. You should not stand behind the photographer and try to take the same shot with your cell phone. When you do that you are violating copyright laws and could be subject to lawsuits from the photographer. Almost every premium list the show photographer and prints that only the official photographer can take the official win pictures. Just like any other professional these people bring value to the dog show world and have been doing it for a very long time.
Most show photographers are very warm and considerate people that are trying very hard to provide the exhibitor with the best possible picture of their wins. These people are patient individuals that are supplying you with a service. Their time, equipment, and investment in their business need to be respected. When you request a winning photo you are taking up the time of the judge as well as that of the photographer and his expertise. You should never take a photo if you have no intention of purchasing it.
Some people think that a judge will be offended if they don’t request a photo. As a judge of over 35 years, I can tell you that is not the case. If a judge is offended because you did not take a photo shame on him or her. Photos are wonderful memories but as we all know they cost money and if an exhibitor chooses not to take a photo of each win that should not matter to the judge. Every exhibitor does not have an unlimited budget and each one has their reason to choose to have a photo taken or not.
Remember that the official photographer is there for you. The knowledge, experience, and high-quality equipment they use will give you great memories to preserve for all time.
Preserve your memories they are the history of your journey