Photographer Pete Thorne has discovered that photographing senior dogs can make for powerful portraits. “Old Faithful” his photo series takes an intimate look at man’s best friends as they live out their golden years.
Every dog’s aged face tells the story. Thorne is based in Toronto and collects inquiries from people who want him to photograph their “really, really old dogs.”
“Last year my grandmother turned 100 (now 101!), and I became interested in photographing older subjects after a trip to Halifax to photograph her birthday party,” Thorne said.
“It occurred to me… that I should photograph old dogs as they are generally overlooked by photographers in favor of cute puppies. Don’t get me wrong, I love puppies too.”
“I shot Clovis shortly after his 14th birthday and sadly he passed away not too long after this portrait was taken.”
“Meet Stella the 12yr old, one-eyed wonder Chihuahua! The little head tilt gives this tough girl a bit of deserved attitude.”
“To photograph these old doggies, I usually request that the owner bring their dog’s favorite treats and toys to help focus their attention. This doesn’t always work as a lot of these old doggies are blind or deaf, possibly both.”
“I found that the trick is to direct the owner; the dog will follow. It can be quite a comical scene. I’ll be low on the ground firing off shots from my camera while the owner is crawling around on the floor with me trying to get the dog pointed in the right direction.”
“The testimonials, often quite touching and humorous, have inadvertently become a big part of the project. I now encourage participants to submit something written about their dog when they contact me about participating in the project.”
“It wasn’t until I started hearing about dogs that I had photographed passing away and having their owners notify me, telling me about their loss, that I realized just how significant and close people become with their pets.
“Meet Hazel. She was named after Hazel McCallion, the Mayor of Mississauga. This tough old gal had both her eyes removed due to pain and no tear production and has 5 microchips from being re-chipped every time she was sold to a new puppy mill. Luckily she was rescued and adopted by Blanche Axton.”
“It wasn’t until I started hearing about dogs that I had photographed passing away and having their owners notify me, telling me about their loss, that I realized just how significant and close people become with their pets.”
“A lot of the stories of these dogs involve rescuing them from pet-mills, foreign countries, and from threats of being put down, so I think the key to a longer and more substantial canine life really just comes down to the love and caring that these old doggies receive from their parents.
“Mance is a 13 yr Old English Bulldog, a breed close to my heart. He has bone cancer that adds a lot of character to his face. He’s in a pretty fragile state so I made my first trip out of the home studio to photograph him, in all his asymmetrical charm.”
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