Back in the day: my Bracken at the drive gates. Porterville Spring Trial, Montgomery Ranch, CA. [Click on the photo for a larger view.]
Michael McAdoo is a photographer with a good eye for dogs, as you can see by visiting his sheepdog trials galleries at this link. This week he posted a few of his photos on the Border Collie Boards, where you can also see the work of talented photographers like Denise Wall, Laura Hicks, Christine Henry, Melanie Chang, Mark Billadeau and others. In his first post to the Border Collie Boards, Mike wrote:
I've been looking through the posts here and see some fine quality photos, so am asking as "trialers" and working dog owners, what shots do you prefer and which shots have you frankly seen enough of? I understand that some shots which work for me artistically may not convey the action you want conveyed or the sense of why this form of competition/exhibition is enjoyable to you.I love working-dog photos. What drives me nuts is that a perfect close-up of a great USBCHA Open dog -- for example, a terrific photograph like this by Denise Wall of Bev Lambert's Bill --
isn't always that easy to distinguish from a carefully-cropped photo of a dog that couldn't herd lemmings off a cliff.
Which is why I love shots like this:
This photo [another great one by Denise Wall] shows Alasdair MacRae and Star on the crossdrive of the International course at the 2005 Bluegrass. The dog is just a speck, but you can by God tell this is a real sheepdog trial and not the sort of event where dogs are given titles for following tame sheep down the fence in a small arena.
After all [as I've said a million times], any responsive dog with sufficient prey drive can be trained to move tame stock in a controlled setting. Look at the snaps of American Pit Bull Terrier Dread, who earned ASCA titles on sheep and ducks:
My dogs can do more challenging work than this. So please, photographers, let me see the big picture.
I love the beautiful close-ups of intense dogs at work, and I love the arty through-the-fence shots, and I especially love the photos with both sheep and dog in the frame. If it were my dog, I'd want to purchase them all.
But let me see at least one photo of the 800 yard, uphill outrun or the 200 yard crossdrive -- even if my dog is a just black speck. If I can afford to buy only one photo, that's the one I'll purchase. I can take portrait snaps of my dog at home, but a photo of my dog and me on a course like Edgeworth or the Bluegrass...? Just about priceless.