Vincent J. Musi has photographed prairie dogs, lemurs, orangutans, parrots, a hedgehog, and skunks to name a few. His newest portrait subjects may be less exotic, but no less expressive. They are the canine companions of mostly friends and neighbors whom Musi invites to his studio for a portrait shoot. Just the dogs, though. The owners are welcome to wait outside. Musi wants the dogs’ full attention.
With the help of his wife, photographer Callie Shell, and Ed Diaz, whom he calls the “Cesar Millan of Charleston,” Musi has been trying to figure out how to read the dogs’ behavior so that he can capture those blink-of-an-eye moments where their unique essence shines through. “There is a moment when I sense this energy I am trying to convey. There is this nobility. If people can see [in these dogs] what their owners do, that’s good,” he says, slobber and all.
Each dog has a backstory but Musi isn’t as interested in that. He instead chooses to title the images simply with the dogs’ names and date. “ I get a very human kind of feeling when I come away them. I don’t want to talk about them as breeds. I want to talk about them as personalities.”