In striking compositions, photographer Barbara Karant brings out dogs’ distinctive features

By Helin Jung
Updated June 17, 2010 12:15 PM

“Dogs don’t mind being photographed in compromising situations,” the photographer Elliott Erwitt once said. And while a sidewalk encounter between a pit bull and a Chihuahua might not turn out so well for one of the parties, in acclaimed photographer Barbara Karant’s new book, there they are, posing calmly next to each other.

Compromise? Maybe not. It turns out the 192 dogs snapped for Small Dog, Big Dogwere all well-behaved, and – don’t spread this around too much – got along happily together. And nothing was digitally altered!

“They’re all there,” Karant tells “Admittedly, some of the combinations are really crazy, but they’re really funny and fun. It’s kind of amazing that the dogs all got along.”

Karant, whose first book of dog photographs, called Greyhounds, was an ode to the breed that stole her heart years ago, is actually an architecture and design photographer. She applied some of that same training and aesthetic to her six-month project with her small and large dogs, looking for unique structural compositions.

Most of the photographs in the full-color book were “choreographed to within an inch of our lives,” Karant says. She planned out her vision in advance (a greyhound with pugs, hairy dogs with not-so-hairy dogs), and waited and waited until the dogs could work with her to execute each shot.

“I’m really patient,” she says. “I make a lot of noises and talk a lot of baby talk.”

The book’s proceeds will benefit the Morris Animal Foundation’s Canine Cancer Campaign, which aims to find prevention and treatments, and ultimately, a cure. In part, the gesture is in memory of one of Karant’s subjects from this project, a sheepdog that succumbed to the disease.

After shooting 60 breeds, Karant learned quite a lot about all the different dogs she met – but her heart still belongs to the greyhound.

“They have these long legs that I’m never going to have in this life, you know? I’m a short woman.”

Small Dog, Big Dog is on sale June 29. Pre-order your copy on the book’s website.

Click here for a sneak peek of Barbara Karant’s most adorable shots!