16 November 2008

Contention and the Sickeningly Cute

Butler University Homecoming 2008

Photos are a contentious thing. Though they are often considered as true reality because of the raw light and physical presence needed to get images, a great deal goes into their production. Filters and editing are physical ways of altering reality. Choices of subject and composition are others. Where is the focus, what is in the background (and what does it mean for the background to be that way), is there action, which subject is hilighted more, color or black and white. Photojournalism creates specific types of reality. Often, when I'm approaching "mundane" things like speeches I consider the possible placements of the photo on the page when considering my shots.

The shot above is unedited. Oddly, it is this photo more than others that best represents the "Bulldog Beauty Contest" of Butler's homecoming. There is no bulldog in this photo and, save for the sash, no indication of competition. But it is the human-dog relationship that makes this contest meaningful. To find beauty in bulldogs is something particular to a school that has such a fleshy and stocky creature as its mascot. For some, this event celebrates the bulldog, the connection to Butler. To others it is the animal bond.

I made this photo moments before the man tucked that tiny dog back into his coat and sought warmth from that damp, frigid morning. That moment is far from what the contest "actually" is, yet it nonetheless provokes something that all who have and haven't participated in such an event can relate to.

If not, then at least its a pretty damn cute dog.

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