As a fan of the San Francisco-based publishing company Chronicle Books, I frequently check their website for their latest releases. I was incredibly excited a short while back when Photobooth Dogs was released, and even more ecstatic when I finally got my hands on a copy!
Photobooth Dogs, authored by The Bark co-founder and creative director Cameron Woo, is at first glance simplistically sweet. It contains over 100 celluloid images of people and their pups sharing moments their owners obviously wanted committed to posterity. However, upon further review, a touchingly deep social commentary regarding the ubiquitous bond man shares with his dog becomes readily apparent.
This one-of-a-kind collection features portraits of Photomatron patrons and their dogs taken over the last 80 years. Amassed from flea markets, antique stores, online vendors, and submissions from The Bark readers, author Cameron Woo has successfully compiled a photographic tribute to the fidelity people have and will always have to their dogs.
Interspersed throughout this charming book are lovely quotes pertaining to the fundamental bond we have with our dogs. Among my favorites is one that reads, “Though parents, husbands, children, lovers, and friends are all very well, they are not dogs.” For me, it was this eloquently written thought that brought the profound nature of Cameron Woo’s photobooth project together, and truly gave a voice to the (in some cases) 80-year-old portraits staring back at me.
Though there are many things that differentiate me from the people featured in this collection — we’ve each lived in our own unique generation, influenced by the customs and values that are associated with it — I was able to instantly relate, understand, and connect with each and every photo. After all, there is an inherit commonality between all dog lovers: We’ve all looked at our dogs in the same touching manner, held them close to our face as we’ve posed for photos, experienced the difficulty in getting our four-legged friends to pose perfectly for the camera, dressed them in their Sunday best, and experienced the sheer thrill of getting that perfect shot (see above for an example of this perfection!). We love our dogs! We are proud of them, we are devoted to them, our lives are that much more fulfilling because of them. They are our best friends and there is a natural inclination to document that. And that is exactly what Cameron Woo has achieved in his touchingly sincere and creative project. Photobooth Dogs is certainly a must have for everyone who loves their dog.
Incidentally, Miles and I have never been able to pass up the opportunity to take a photobooth picture ourselves! This one was taken at the Marc Jacobs store in San Francisco four years ago. After reading Photobooth Dogs, I’ve been inspired, and it’s definitely time for some new shots!
p.s. bonus points for those of you who recognized Plumm on the cover!