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JONNO RATTMAN CAUGHT THE BEST BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE WESTMINSTER DOG SHOW

JONNO RATTMAN CAUGHT THE BEST BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE WESTMINSTER DOG SHOW

 CH Paradis Kiss Yukos, a Maltese owned by Manny Comitini & Christopher Vicari in the benching area backstage at Madison Square Garden.
 English Setters and handlers during a judge's review. Pier 94 during the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York City.
 Noah, a Black Cocker Spaniel owned by Jeffrey Hanlin Jr & Mark J Ragusa & Marlene Ness in the benching area of Pier 92 during the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York City.
 Chauncy, a Hungarian Komondor in the benching area of Madison Square Garden during the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York City.
 Connie Cox of Canton Michigan treats Jake, an English Springer Spaniel to a bit of fresh air before entering the rings of Pier 92 during the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York City.
 Clarisse Guernia-Williams kneels with Vali, a Great Dane, while chatting with Matthew Bozicevich at Pier 94 during the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York City.
 Pat Cunningham of Westchester, NY shows off Violet, a Sussex Spaniel that is, "the youngest grand champion in the breed" during Meet the Breeds at the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show at Pier 92 in New York City.
 Sandra Bethea embraces Rion, her Bedlington Terrier, in the benching area of Pier 92 during the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York City.
 Piper, a liver Dalmation, sniffs a life-sized stuffed Dalmation during Meet the Breeds at the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show at Pier 92 in New York City.

I discovered these brilliant images of the Westminster Dog show when reading Judith Newman's insightful piece in the New York Times this weekend.  Not only was the article fascinating but the images were arresting.  I had to find out about this Jonno guy!  Apparently, he has been at his craft for some time and was honored last year in PDN's prestigious 30 under 30 award - one of Mrs. Sizzle's favorites.  Leave it to team Sizzle to ask this guy all kinds of questions about his experience at the show!

WHAT'S IT LIKE TO SHOOT AT A DOG SHOW?

The Dog Show is crazy and wonderful, I mean, it's a couple of huge rooms teeming with dogs, handlers, owners, and super-fans of every size, shape and variety. In other words, it's completely overwhelming, awe-inspiring, and fast paced. I tried to work my way through the benching areas, rings, and booths with an eye for the things I'd never seen before, or couldn't really describe any way other than through pictures. I wanted to make pictures that felt alive, wild, almost-out-of-control. I also knew that there were a ton of people taking pictures there, so my pictures needed to have a distinct point-of-view, authorship, and if possible, a metaphoric or narrative quality that transcends the subject matter. I think that's what makes an interesting picture.

IS THIS YOUR FIRST ONE?

Years ago, a friend gave me tickets to the show at MSG, and I went, out of morbid curiosity. It was cool, but I was way up in the nosebleeds. Before last week, I'd never really made pictures of dogs or owners, let alone with a style angle. Before last week, I'd never kissed so many dogs, either. Woof. 

DO THE DOGS COOPERATE?

In general, the dogs did whatever they wanted, and I was at their mercy, waiting for an interesting moment. Certain breeds, like Bichons, were much more willing to be placed or posed by their owners, as in the picture of silk flower dogs and real dogs that ran in the Times. The other thing to remember is that these dogs are some of the best of the best, and are generally well-trained when it comes to looking cute and standing for inspection. 

ARE THE OWNERS PROTECTIVE?

Most of the owners I met were just lovely and super cooperative - as much intrigued by me as I was by them and their pups. 

DO YOU AGREE THAT DOGS START TO LOOK LIKE THEIR PEOPLE?

I think in certain cases it's true, but at Westminster everyone is dressed up and made-up so I think think the baseline look is pretty extraordinary. 

DO YOU HAVE YOUR OWN DOG?

I've never had a dog - I grew up with cats - though I have a Dauchshund for a niece. Molly squeals with excitement from half-a-block away if she sees me coming. A surrogate pup is probably about my speed these days!

Alexis Rockman and a dog named Padme photographed by Kimberly M. Wang

Alexis Rockman and a dog named Padme photographed by Kimberly M. Wang

Jess Rona and the slow mo blowdryer at her dog grooming salon