When he is not saving lives while working as a paramedic, Peterborough-based Chris Porsz is bringing people joy and endless entertainment by expressing himself through a camera lens. He spent four decades traveling around the world and snapping the most candid scenes it has to offer involving man’s best friends. Forget about the studio lighting and professional posed portraits taken in hundreds of attempts, Porsz captures canines in their true colors: being quirky, funny, and showcasing their unique personalities while being groomed, carried in a handbag or even driving a tractor.
The 66-year-old amateur photographer has put his best finds into a collection of over 200 adorable images called “Barking!” which includes pooches of all shapes and sizes in the most exquisite outfits, with hilarious expressions, performing the most unexpected photobombs or interacting with their owners. “Like humans, dogs are characters in their own right, intensely curious, both timid and bold,” Porsz told Bored Panda.
Who wouldn’t love a book full of funny and charismatic dogs from different corners of the world? Here’s an exclusive chance to peek inside this incredible tribute to our most loyal four-legged friends.
This is not the first time Porsz is taking over the internet with his innovative and interesting photography projects. A few years ago, the artist tracked down hundreds of unique characters he had captured in the '80s to recreate their photos for a successful project titled “Reunions” that took 7 years to complete. We reached out to Chris Porsz to find out about the inspiration and message behind his new hit project “Barking!”
“In the early eighties, I looked for characters who stood out from the crowd, such as the teddy boys, punks and, by chance, a few dogs. Busy raising a family and my new career as a paramedic, I then packed up for 25 years, until I discovered the magic of digital photography. One surreal man-dog image taken by the photographer Elliot Erwitt in New York depicting a bulldog sat on its owner’s knee, inspired me to start looking for more funny dogs.” – Porsz said.
“This book is my quirky take on our best friends and the great thing about taking their pictures is, unlike people, they never complain.” – Said the photographer. – “’Barking!’ depicts mutts and pedigrees in all shapes and sizes from New York to Paris to Skegness and, of course, my home town of Peterborough. I frequently cut off the owners to give the dogs a center-stage. However, at times I will keep the owner in, to show the intimate relationship with their best friends.”
Porsz admits that dogs are often more interesting models than people, especially when caught off guard. “Many pictures are candid but, just like my people images, I often find the best are when the dog sees me and spontaneously reacts. I therefore actively look for eye contact, sometimes by speaking in their language with a little bark or a woof. All the world’s a stage so with serendipity on my side, I just wait for the right dog to walk on and snap! My quest would involve round trips of hundreds of miles, but I often returned with not even a sausage dog. My dogged persistence would pay off when I was rewarded with the book cover images. The front cover from NY is probably the best I have ever taken so quite proud of it.”
“I walk and stalk for miles, get down to their level with a wide-angle lens, set to a fast shutter speed, fire away and hope. Sometimes I have got too close to snarling dogs, unhappy owners or to a Yorkie that cocked its leg over me and my camera,” – Porsz shared his struggles as a street photographer.
And sometimes while you are wandering for hours in the same spot to take that perfectly ironical picture in the best location you could think of, things can get suspicious. “I went back to Barking in London three times to try and achieve the image I wanted. There was a distinct shortage of dogs there and I waited many hours outside the Barking Dog and Spotted Dog pubs waiting for a dog to snap. I waited so long next to the ‘Welcome to Barking’ sign on Barking Station that I was approached by security as I obviously looked suspicious. They were happy when I told them I was a trainspotter!”
“As the great man Elliot Erwitt said, ‘I don’t know of any other animals closer to us in qualities of heart, sentiment and loyalty.’ Martyn Moore, my photo editor, also sums up my book and the relationship we have with our dogs: ‘Like so many of Chris’s projects, it has turned into a huge and complex documentary, layered with his observations about the dogs and their relationships with people and places. Around the world, we see evidence that people treat their dogs at least as well, if not better, than they treat each other. And how do they repay us? They repay us with loyalty, love, eye-watering vet bills and a runny poo that even the most dedicated ‘bagger’ will struggle to clean up.’ My message is ‘just be kind to both people and dogs.’”
Besides putting smiles on our faces, Chris Porsz is a silent hero for donating part of his proceeds for a good cause while making a positive change in his community and setting a touching example for others. “I have done many book signings in my local hospital in Peterborough and really enjoying leafing through Barking and telling how I made the pictures. I also donate part of the proceeds to Breast Cancer Research UK and to our local oncology department to say thank you for the amazing life-saving work they do," said Porsz, who after nearly 30 years of work at the ambulance service still finds his job immensely rewarding.