Enjoy this delightful post from Thrums Books photographer Joe Coca.
Those characters at Thrums Books asked me to write something for the Thrums blog. I bet they thought I would write about photography or something like that. Well, won’t they be surprised. I am going to write about dogs because not long ago I was asked why I always photograph dogs when we do these Thrums photo shoots.
I love dogs. I have two very, very spoiled white fur balls that constantly cover me in dog hair. My car is a disaster to ride in. If you are wearing black when you get in you won’t be when you get out. I have to move one over every night so I can get in my designated spot to sleep and not disturb her too much; although, she knows if she rolls over she will get her stomach scratched.
So this blog has nothing to do with textiles or weaving and yet has everything to do with textiles and weaving. Shooting books Thrums has published or is about to publish has given me the amazing opportunity to travel to some very amazing places around the world. I get to meet extremely talented weavers and textile artisans as well as experience their culture, their food, and how they live. It is how they live that I find the most interesting part of the entire process.
A normal scenario for how we do our work is that we get to a location where the artisan lives, we do an interview, and I set up to photograph. Once that is all done, I am normally free to go photograph whatever I want. So I normally wander around in their house and then go outside and poke around looking for things to photograph, which helps give me a sense of how this person lives.
Outside, I almost always run into a dog. I am not afraid of dogs, so I think this helps a lot because there will be some growling but nothing else. How would you feel if some stranger carrying large things around his neck came up to you and pointed one of them at you? I think I would also growl.
In most instances the dogs I meet are not necessarily pets but are there for security–to protect or to warn. So in the various parts of the world we have been in, a dog’s place in that culture can be good, bad, or indifferent. I have found that most of the time it is indifferent. Sad, but at least not bad. They are normally fed and have some sort of shelter to sleep in, but they also have to fend for themselves most of the time. They have the ability to freely roam and do as they please.
In other parts of the world, they are tied up and limited to a small area where they may have some sort of shelter or bed. These dogs tend to be the most aggressive and I give them a wide berth. In many other places, a dog is on its own. This is the saddest to see and part of me wants to help them, feed them, take them home, but I know I will do no good there.
We have worked in other parts of the world where dogs are thought to be impure, so we rarely saw a dog unless it was in a large metropolitan area where they were cherished pets. We have also been in areas where man’s best friend could be dinner that evening. Meat markets we avoided like the plague.
Every time I get home, I sit with my two dogs and describe the area I have just been to and tell them whether they would have liked it there and how they would have been treated. A large percentage of the time I tell them they would not have liked being a dog there.