Picture This

Cardigan Welsh Corgi Breed Column

So you’ve just won Best of Breed under a judge you haven’t shown to very often. The group competition is looking pretty strong, and you’re thinking that bending the ear of the judge about your dog’s latest exploits may just help give you the edge you need for a possible placement. What better place to have a private moment with a judge than at the photographer’s stand? His sole attention will be on you and your dog, smiling for a nice picture, and you get his full consideration.

Just to put this short rendezvous into prospective, a judge typically has only a small amount of time between ring times to allow for photos. They must also squeeze in restroom breaks, a meal, and other commitments during the day. Most judges will make time for a photo, thinking it will be a lasting memento for you of a grand day at the dog show.

The photographer has traveled a lengthy distance to be at the show, brings expensive equipment so as to obtain a high-quality photo, and knows your breed well enough to have it pose in a manner that is breed specific. They usually have years of experience and are prepared to handle most situations that arise. Unlike the wedding photographer, they don’t always have a dry building to work in, nor the very best lighting. The subjects can at times be quite fidgety, and not always cooperative, either. They handle multiple special requests for pictures and spend considerable time preparing and distributing these to exhibitors. All of this costs money to produce, and your purchase of the photo is the only way these hardworking people make any money.

The reality of this is that we are all aware you may have absolutely no intention of purchasing a copy of the picture that was just taken. Statistics obtain from photographers indicate that only 60 percent of those who request a photo with the judge actually end up purchasing one. In fact, during the olden days of the flash-bulb era, some exhibitors who wanted only airtime with the judge would tell the photographer to just flash the bulb so as not to waste time producing a picture that wouldn’t be purchased. (On a side note, judges were known to deliberately hold a ribbon upside down in the photo as a way of sublimely sending a message to others that they were not that smitten with the dog that day … it may have been the best they had, but not of the quality they wanted to be photographed with. Most likely, many of you are going to rummage through your scrapbooks and look to see if this may have happened to you unknowingly.)

The important thing to learn from all of this is that most judges do not want to hear about your latest wins. They all receive the deluge of dog magazines and have seen the photos therein. With the communication that is available now, word travels fast, and the plethora of online venues really negates the need for you to fill the judge’s ears with your dog’s supposed virtues. Many judges today will verbally warn you to discontinue that discussion with them. The dog show world has ears too, and others can easily ascertain what is going on. Judges today are wise to walk a straight line and avoid such instances.

In conclusion, please don’t waste the judge’s time—and more importantly, don’t waste that of the photographer. If you have a photo taken, then by all means be prepared to pay for it.

—David L. Anthony 

First published in the AKC Gazette Digital Edition, June, 2017.

© Copyright* the American Kennel Club