Editor's Page: A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Often the most valuable photos, those that evoke the strongest memories and most poignantly capture the dogs, people and events of our sport, are those candid photos snapped from ringside.

By Christi McDonald | December 1, 2006

A picture is worth a thousand words - Fred R. Barnard

Photographs have long recorded the activities, the present, and the past of the sport of showing purebred dogs, as they have helped chronicle all of human history since the camera was invented. Often the most valuable photos, those that evoke the strongest memories and most poignantly capture the dogs, people and events of our sport, are those candid photos snapped from ringside, whether at the great events such as Morris & Essex or Westminster, or at local shows. 

Consider an image reprinted in Pat Trotter’s book, Born To Win, of her first Westminster Group win in 1970, taken as her peers congratulated her; the image shows not only Pat with Ch. Vin-Melca’s Vagabond, but also includes an amazing array of legendary people and dogs — Marcia Foy with the Beagle, Ch. King’s Creek Triple Threat, Tom Glassford with the Afghan Ch. Ammon Hall Nomad, Evonne Chashoudian, Bobby Barlow, Damara Bolté with the Basenji Ch. Reveille Re-Up and Richard Bauer with Elsie Neustadt’s Greyhound, Ch. Argus of Greywitch. 

A photograph of such a collection of dogs and people from our sport is priceless. Without that photographer standing ringside, ready to capture a shot in a split second, this image wouldn’t exist. Unfortunately, in this case, there is no photo credit but I’ll wager that Jim Callea was the photographer.  What about the never-to-be-forgotten shot of Ch. Rimskittle Ruffian, Westminster 1980, flying past the camera (and photographer Callea, thank heaven posted at ringside) with all four feet off the ground, head and tail carriage perfect? Would we really want to have missed having that perfect moment in time immortalized on film? I daresay we would not.

By the same token, sometimes one shot among many taken by a professional at a local show becomes an item of value in the moment, and potentially again years later. We’ve seen those images often, over the past decade in particular, in glossy advertisements and occasionally in editorial coverage — Jimmy Moses and Mystique, Debbie Butt with Luke, Bill McFadden and Mick, Karen Black with Treasure, Scott Sommer with J.R., Beth Sweigart and Coco… this list goes on and on... and on. We are so lucky to have photos of some of the greatest dogs in the sport, to look at and compare to what we see in the rings today, to learn from, to bring back memories. But it isn’t just the famous and infamous who appear in and treasure these photos; literally many hundreds of us who show dogs have thrilled to the photos these photographers have gotten of our beloved dogs in the ring, and these photos become personal treasures as well as a recording of what has gone before in our sport.

And while the images we remember are often those stunning, once-in-a-lifetime shots that freeze the essence of a breed on film, it is also the passion and emotion, the camaraderie of and devotion to the sport, and sometimes just how much love flows between man and dog, that is recorded on film. We owe a great deal to the photographers who’ve captured our hugs of congratulations and tears of happiness; the owner-handler or the professional handler, arm shot into the air in triumph at winning the first Best or the first Group One; the Best in Show line-up, judge’s back to the camera, finger pointing to the winner whose face is a burst of surprise and delight; the cherished veteran, rounding the ring for perhaps the last time at a National Specialty; the kiss on the nose from handler to charge that reminds us all why we’re here. Without our professional photographers at ringside, think how much would be missed…

Memorable moments captured on film — the history and heart and soul of our sport.

As most people who are active in the sport are undoubtedly aware by now, a couple of our professional candid photographers have recently been asked to leave dog show grounds after failing to have paid a vendor’s fee to the clubs hosting the shows — in spite of the fact that this has never been done in this sport and no prior notice was given to these photographers. In one instance, at Orange Empire in Southern California in March, the show chairman took the unprecedented and absurdly rash action of having photographer Carol Beuchat escorted from the show grounds by security officers… which would be comical were it not so alarming, and had Carol not also been asked several weeks later to leave the showgrounds of the Bakersfield shows. I’m told that another photographer in the Midwest, Shawn Dunford, has also been asked to leave a show recently for the same reason, and you’ll find, when reading "A Matter of Opinion” in this issue, that several other of our well-known and respected photographers have faced the same situation over the past year or so, although with less serious outcomes.

Yes, "this is America,” as so many have pointed out in correspondence that has traversed the Internet on this subject.  It is a shocking development in the sport.  It is up to the core of the sport — the exhibitors, handlers, breeders, owners, editors, publishers and other photographers — to make ourselves heard so that this issue is settled. Again, I invite you to read the reactions of several of our sport’s most respected photographers, in addition to handlers, owners, and exhibitors, beginning on page 74. The comments we collected are enlightening, and we hope to hear from our readers with your thoughts on this subject as well.


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