Taking the pictures from this book at face value you’d be forgiven for assuming that the photographer – Martin Usborne – had stumbled across myriad dog breeds all abandoned and lonely in their owners’ cars.
Fortunately for animal lovers everywhere, the situations are all set-ups. Martin scouted the cars, leaving notes on the windscreens with details of what he wanted to do and how the owners could contact him. Casting dogs often involved running after them in parks – amazingly, almost everybody said yes to what might otherwise seem a bizarre request.
Once cars and dogs were found, the dedication went further still. Each image was planned out over several whiteboards (images of which are at the back of the book), with post-it notes, scribbles, arrows and detailed diagrams.
The point of all this? Martin wanted to explore feelings associated to a childhood experience of being left in a car himself – probably only for a few minutes while a parent went to the supermarket. He says, ‘I wondered if anyone would come back. In a child’s mind it is possible to be alone forever. Around the same age, I began to develop a strong affinity with animals – in particular their plight at the hands of humans. I saw a TV documentary that included footage of a dog being put in a plastic bag and kicked. What appalled me most was that the dog could not speak.’ It’s these two experiences that Martin says have ended up coming out in his photography.
All in all, the results are fantastic. Being a dog lover myself, I will always immediately volunteer to review any book which boasts a high proportion of canine photographs. This book is one of the best I’ve seen in recent years, with a mixture of cinematic and amazingly well-thought-out and executed images, with just the right amount of humour thrown in for good measure.
The book is published by Hoxton Mini Press, whose typical MO is to produce high-quality books at affordable prices – you can get hold of this fantastic little volume for just £12.95, which certainly gives me an extra reason to recommend this book very highly.
The Silence of Dogs in Cars by Martin Usborne
Hoxton Mini Press, £12.95, hardback, 96 pages, ISBN: 978-1-910566-67-1 ★★★★★