A Photographic Breed Guide by Kate Lacey
The American kennel club recognizes over 160 breeds of dogs in 7 categories: Hound, Working, Sporting, Non-sporting, Terrier, Toy and Herding. Thousands of Americans own purebred show dogs, and local kennel clubs host events year round at which judges evaluate how closely individual dogs conform to breed standards. Dogs are groomed to exact specifications by owners and professional handlers, ribbons and trophies are bestowed, points are accumulated. The ultimate event in a show dog’s life is Westminster—held in New York every year since 1877—which attracts hordes of visitors and an international media bonanza.
In 2005 Life magazine assigned photographer Kate Lacey to cover Westminster. She decided that instead of walking around Madison Square Garden documenting the scene, she would rig up a seamless backdrop to make elegant portraits, much as Richard Avedon once captured glamorous celebrities. Though partial to poodle mutt mixes herself, on this assignment Kate became entranced by show dogs. Their exquisite grooming and acclimatization to attention made them ready subjects. And within the circumscribed limits of each breed¹s conformity, Kate found in each dog she met a thrilling depth of individuality—her lucid portraits shimmer with personality. After the assignment ended, she continued traveling to dog shows in a quest to photograph every one of the the AKC-recognized breeds.
Some of the dogs in this book are veterans of years of shows, some are winners and some are losers, and some are just puppies; but their achievements in the ring are not the point here. With each portrait you¹ll just see the nickname they¹re called by the people who love them, not their official championship names, which convey their titles and lineage. The dogs in this book are like supermodels off duty, showing us a personal side in a candid moment. What we love about these dogs is not their fancy parentage and titles, but exactly what we love about every dog in our lives; their quirky and wonderful dogginess.
Kate photographing Garbo the English Setter at "Meet The Breeds."
Javits Center, New York, October 2009.
About Kate Lacey
Kate Lacey is a freelance photographer who has worked on assignment for magazines including Oprah, InStyle, People, Fortune, ReadyMade, Craft, Smart Money, the New York Times, and Artforum. Her clients also include Rockstar Games, the Discovery Channel, Herman Miller, L’Oreal Paris, and UPS. She has worked as a photo editor for the Village Voice, New York, and The New Yorker. Her work has been featured in the DoubleTake book, “25 and Under/Photographers” and “Catholic No. 1: Cats.” Kate studied photography at Sarah Lawrence and now lives in Brooklyn with her dog, Snack.