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Beautiful Beasties: A Creative Guide to Modern Pet Photography by Jamie Pflughoeft

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The History of Pet Photography

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The Backstory on Pet Photography

Photos of pets have been taken since the inception of the camera. The oldest known photograph of a dog is a daguerreotype of a white poodle titled Poodle with Bow, on Table, taken by an unknown photographer in the 1850s. A daguerreotype is a direct positive that’s made in the camera on a silvered copper plate. The process involves a long exposure time that makes our modern day shutter speeds of 1/1000 second and faster pale in comparison when it comes to time commitment. To take the shot surely must have required one very patient photographer or one heavily sedated dog—or both. This piece sold at Sotheby’s for $8,125 in 2009.

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The first photo of a dog, created by an unknown photographer in the 1850s.

Since then, both technology and the relationship between humans and their animals have evolved dramatically. As domestic animals have continued to become more and more entrenched in our everyday lives, our cameras have spent more and more time focusing in their direction.

In the 1950s, Elliott Erwitt, a French-born American photographer, came onto the scene and captured photos of people with their pets on the streets of ...

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