Two New “Dogs Can’t Read” books.

As many of you know, I’m a book guy. I love books. I dream about them. I’ve made several. Well, add two more to the list. And folks, I made these books rather quickly. These small publications were not labored over, toiled over. I did not pull my hair out. I did not consult higher powers. I just did them. Bingo. Bango. You book designers are probably saying, “No joke.” I made the images over a year ago, but I just got around to making the books, and BOOK is a stretch in both cases. I consider these “books” simply sketches of an idea that I’ve been carrying around and acting out on for at least five years. The beauty of this book process, the print on demand process, is simply that you can make a single book. I LOVE to play with books. I’ve made an assortment of hideous creations not fit for public consumption, and I’ve made others that I’m proud of that continue to sell. My advice…just play.

A few years ago I started a project about dogs and graffiti in different cities/countries around the world. Palermo, Paris, New York, Tijuana and now Panama and Peru have entered in the mix. Is this story a world beater? No, not really. Have I sold a fair amount of these books? Yes. Dogs are a safe bet, but oddly enough the range of response to THIS particular project has been as varied as anything I’ve ever done. I’ve had people look at these images and claim to see great religious or political slant. No joke. I just nod and say, “You got me.” But back to the books. I love making these books for several reasons. First, it allows me to revisit the work. Second, it forces me to edit the work, and three, it allows me to create a physical artifact from the project. I don’t sweat these books. I enjoy the process and I toss the final product in a pile and revisit them from time to time. That’s all. I think sometimes we make too much of all this stuff. Photography, books, BEING photographers or book people. Just enjoy the process. You wanna be a world-beater? Good, go for it. Wanna just play, then play.

And for all you tech crazies out there. I know you want it. Wait for it…wait….wait for it……all Leica, all TRI-X. As the gear wars rage on I always find myself keeping an ear to the ground, thinking, “Well, I should go and look at these new cameras.” And then I do and I end up driving home empty handed. My old fallback of Leica, TRI-X is hard to beat. And now that my darkroom is nearing completion I really don’t see a need to change anything now. Of course tomorrow I’ll be saying something new, but I reserve the right to do so.

22 responses to “Two New “Dogs Can’t Read” books.”

  1. Brian Miller says:

    Love it, Dan! What fun. I especially love the first image in that first book: notebook, fountain pen, cerveza, old wooden table, a view. Harks back to a seemingly simpler time. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Rob Oresteen says:

    Daniel – I noticed the “6×9” tag…Leica? What am I missing?! Nice shot, btw.

  3. Great stuff amigo, makes me want to churn out a good handful of trade books, so much more fun than slaving half a year on a ‘big book’, overdoing, overthinking.

    I agree Brian, that ‘notebook’ image is very evocative!

    If you ever re-visit this project, street dogs in Thailand are plentiful, agressive and interesting (and wear T-shirts) and Argentina had a huge population of street dogs as well.

  4. mike a says:

    I love the first image. Dogs are cool and as far as new cameras go, I don’t know, trying to keep up with the digital world has made me tired and broke. Time to stop and regroup. I just want to make good images.

    • Smogranch says:

      You can never win. But, that was the goal of the digital revolution from the beginning, revive a stagnant industry and get people on an unparalleled buying cycle. We are still on it. Me, I’m selling at this point. Culling the herd.

    • Brendan says:

      Great books, I keep putting off trying this approach. I started this year feeling like there were too many choices too hand- film or digital, this lens or that one. I ended up selling a lot of stuff and downsizing (yes, finally bought the M6 that had been tempting me for the last 15 years). It feels better, simpler and much less time spent thinking about “IQ” and much more time thinking about what the image actually means viusally.

  5. Brian Miller says:

    So, I had an idea. I was thinking you should leave your mark where you see and photograph graffiti. Nothing major; just a little “Dogs can’t read” tag or something… 😉 You’d probably do it in an interesting typeface…

  6. Leigh Webber says:

    I just ordered the Panama version! In addition to being excited to receive it- and to enjoy the tangible book with its uncoated pages and all, I also felt like it was a good way to show my thanks for all the book inspiration you provide me. Thanks!

  7. DJ says:

    Nice work Dan

    I concur with Mike A- digital has made me tired- worn me out- I have been shooting with a few old rangefinders from the 70’s, and am FM2. Clean, simple, quiet and quick- fly on the wall…I am able to maintain a low visabilty-and no one rushes up to me becasue they have learned there is no image on the back for them to chimp-[currently working on a little side project- Local muscians palying in small town pubs]- Thanks Dan for bringing the book idea to the forefront of my mind–once again-

  8. lionelb says:

    Fluidity again. Albrecht Durer was great but not what you would call ‘spontaneous’. The sketch, the emotional capture, lacks the majesty but it lets loose thought. Respecting the old ways, the slow ways, is smart thinking. Few will. The wall of images taken through the eye of a computer will tire and jade. We need Shaker chairs, even if we can afford only one.

    • Smogranch says:


      You should probably be writing about photography.

    • lionelb says:

      Much to my surprise, I have hastened my retirement. Always good to outwit oneself. Very soon I shall have the luxury of time. Doing what I want rather than what I must. That is infinite good fortune. I hope to spend it wisely.

  9. My best for you Daniel,you are inspiring .
    From a loyal mexican M6 user and loyal reader of smogranch too.
    ps: I think the title should be ” Los perros no pueden leer”…pueden,instead of puedan.Anyway,thanks for all the inspiration.Rodolfo

    • Smogranch says:

      Rodolfo…I think I screwed up. I’ve done this book before so I should have known. That is what happens when I move too fast. thanks for pointing out…

      I’m soon to be an M4 user….

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