“The Trials” Five Picture Photo-Story

I had begun to make some contacts at the Dog Track in Wimbledon in order that I could get closer to the subjects of the story themselves – the dogs. The Wimbledon Dogs Owners Association were good enough to respond with some contact names, one of whom was the racing manager Garry Matthews. On speaking with him he mentioned the trials run each Weds morning where the dogs race solo and in pairs against the clock. These trial times are the benchmark by which dogs receive their form statements on race cards (used by punters on race nights) and this in turn effects the betting odds that will be placed against them. The trials also play an important part in allowing the dog to receive a health check and to make sure that they are fit enough to race. Garry mentioned that I would probably be allowed to take some photographs of the dogs trialling but also that I would be more likely to get closer to the infrastructure of the racing world that the public rarely see.

Thoughts on the process: I was pleased that I had elected to take this story further. Previous shoots at the stadium meant buying a ticket and being enclosed in the Trackside and Grandstand area of the track – only a small portion of the whole. The dual issues with shooting the dogs running at night were of low and changeable light and very fast subjects! Not being allowed to use flash while the dogs were running compounded these issues.  The shots obtained, although dynamic, were not technically strong enough. Also photographs of dogs racing at night are typical images; seen many times before. Shooting during the day would allow me to use a faster shutter speed and a lower ISO, manoeuvring myself into better angles as there were no other punters around. I was happy to be allowed to shoot at the trials and everyone was very friendly, shooting in the kennels allowed me to get closer to much of the paraphernalia surrounding a race: running jackets, muzzles etc, and also to see the care and attention that was put into the dogs welfare. I would like to take further pictures of the dogs and their owners/handlers – perhaps a series of formal portraits.

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3 thoughts on ““The Trials” Five Picture Photo-Story

  1. Well done finding such a good subject and persevering with the research. No 1 is a great image, even if some might complain about the head crop. I actually think that serves to exaggerate the importance of the dogs to the story. The tension in the leads works well too. You’ve got some good shots of the dogs running however the most interesting part of the story for me is the interaction of dog and owner and the owner’s reactions to the dogs performance. Is the dog a kind of surrogate high-achieving sporty child? Portraits would be good but I think they would need to capture the relationship somehow to be really compelling. Definitely worth continuing with, good luck!

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