‘As long as I have Weimaraners, I will photograph them.’ William Wegman’s lesser-known dog Polaroids.

“Eyes,” 2005. (William Wegman)
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William Wegman, a photographer known for whimsical images of his Weimaraners, once resisted becoming a dog owner. In an interview with In Sight, Wegman said he believed he was “too busy as an artist and didn’t have time” to devote to the care of a pet. In 1970 it was Man Ray, his first Weimaraner, who broke that myth by becoming Wegman’s art. In tow on set, Man Ray was in search of attention and ways to be part of the action, resulting in his eventual fame.

Wegman liked that as he began photographing, the images of May Ray were “not particularly cute but rather eerie.” A new book of a selection of Wegman’s five decades of photographs, “Being Human,” not only highlights his best-known work of the character portraits familiar to “Sesame Street,” but also those portraits that seem otherworldly.

The book, curated collaboratively with photography author William A. Ewing, is organized into themes. This edit, photographs from the section titled Hallucinations, harks back to Wegman’s experimentation with double-exposures on Polaroid film. Several of the images feature Mazzie, a near-black Weimaraner who was his assistant’s dog. She got very attached to being photographed, and would hop onto the table that was used like a pedestal, as if to say, “Are we ready to work now?” He noticed that she loved the strobe lights and seemed to need her “hit of light.”

Wegman indicated that while he never imagined his career focusing on dogs, he has no plans to retire from it. “As long as I have Weimaraners, I will photograph them. They tell me that’s what they want to do.”

All images in this post are from “William Wegman: Being Human,” published by Chronicle Books 2017.

More In Sight:

‘This Land’: America’s beauty in photographs

‘The pigeons make me feel free’: An old pastime thrives in a Palestinian refugee camp

‘It was one tiny bit of the world that was ours.’ Polaroids of the men of Fire Island Pines.

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