Photographer Sharon Montrose and her new puppy book, Lightweights by Angie McKaig
There are puppy photographs, and then there are puppy photographs. When I first saw Sharon Montrose's photographs in her book Dogtionary, I was spellbound.
Her photographs aren't just beautiful, they're also very real. Far from a stylized high-fashion style like William Wegman's, Montrose seems to reach out and grab the very soul of her subjects as she's photographing them.
Lightweights is her newest book and focuses on very tiny puppies—all less than eight weeks old, some weighing under a pound—and she's highlighted their distinctive diminutiveness by posing them on a variety of antique scales. The result is not only arresting but adorable.
We recently spoke to Sharon about her photography and her newest book.
pp: What made you decide to devote so much of your artistic time to photographing animals?
sm: I love photography and found that shooting animals gave me the most fulfillment.
pp: What is your artistic background?
sm: I studied photography in college and spent 3 years assisting an entertainment photographer.
pp:How many years have you been photographing dogs?
sm: For about six years... Since I got my first dog, Simon.
pp: Have you ever done any shows? Are there other places where people can see your work?
sm: I do local shows periodically, but nothing is up at the moment. The best way to see my work is my books, and my website—it contains information on upcoming shows
pp: Do you have favourite breeds to photograph?
sm: I don't really have a favorite breed I like to shoot. I like all breeds and mutts alike.
pp: What's the most rewarding part of photographing dogs?
sm: The most rewarding part of what I do is definitely the time I get to spend with the animals. I have a lot of fun playing and interacting with the dogs I'm photographing. Lightweights was especially fun because I got the chance to spend so much time with puppies, they were so young and tiny. There's something incredible about holding a one week old pup in the palm of your hand.
pp: Why did you choose to do a second book on dogs (Lightweights)?
sm:Doing Lightweights was a natural progression for me. I came up with the idea while I was doing Dogtionary and couldn't wait to get working on it.
pp: How long did it take you to photograph and compile Lightweights?
sm: I worked on it for seven months.
pp: Why do you think books like Dogtionary and Lightweights have become increasingly popular?
sm: I think that dog books are becoming increasingly popular for the same reason that the latest dog products, dog bakeries, dog boutiques, etc. are becoming so popular—more and more people are getting dogs and discovering how wonderful it is.
pp: What plans do you have for the future? More dog books? Other products?
sm: Yes, more dog books for sure. I'm currently working on a new dog book that will be out this time next year (2004). And, I also shoot commercially.
pp: Tell us a little about your dog(s).
sm: I have two: Simon and Avery. Simon is a very sweet, six year old Rottweiler. I got Simon when he was a six week old lightweight, weighing only eight and a half pounds. Avery is a three year old mutt I rescued when I was working on Dogtionary—I call her martian dog because she is such a funny looking mix: Italian Greyhound, Sharpei, and English Bulldog! She also goes by Stinky, because, well, she stinks if she hasn't had a bath. Simon is 100 pounds of love, well, love and slobber. Because of his drooling, I call him “Slime-on”. They make a funny pair, big and little—Avery only weighs about thirty pounds, but they get along beautifully.
Sharon Montrose has photographed two dog books: Lightweights and Dogtionary. For more information, visit her web site at www.sharonmontrose.com.