Master photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson called it “the decisive moment,” the precise instant all elements are in balance and the camera catches the essence of the subject at hand. For canine portraitist Andrew Pinkham, that moment comes multiple times. He creates his compositions— dogs posed naturally against moody or evocative backgrounds —by capturing the two elements separately under ideal conditions, then seamlessly merging them on his computer. These dreamy pictorials echo 17th-century Dutch interior paintings by Johannes Vermeer and the work of 18thcentury Romanticists such as John Constable and George Stubbs.
Pinkham, who began developing his anachronistic style in 2008 with photos of his Greyhound, was raised in southeastern Pennsylvania in what is fondly referred to as Wyeth Country, home of the family of remarkable artists who have inspired generations of painters. As Pinkham says, “Like all of us, I was influenced by the environment that I grew up in. It was in Chester County, with a farm on both sides of our property. There were rolling hills and fields with plenty of cows, horses and dogs. A short distance away was the Brandywine River Museum.” The museum houses the paintings of three generations of Wyeths—N. C., Andrew and Jamie—whose palettes and uses of light made lasting impressions on him.
Today, Pinkham, whose day job is digital imaging manager at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, accepts commissions for about a halfdozen dog portraits a year. He works collaboratively with his clients to select backgrounds that reflect their dogs’ special nature. His animal portraits, he says, challenge him to create images that blur the lines of time and prompt viewers to consider concepts of history, authenticity and memory.