Bobbin, son of Chip, grandson of Batty, great grandson of Fay, turns 14 today. Named Bobbin Ray for my heroes Bob and Ray (Bob n' Ray and for the fact that I had planned to give him to my sister Pam who liked to sew). One of only 3 in the litter, he started out living in Maine as Pam's dog, but following in Chundo's footsteps proved to be too daunting for him and for my sister.
And he really wanted to be with my dogs Candy and Chip. He would try to stow away in our car when we drove back to New York at the end of the summer. One year, to his delight, I took him back with me where he has been ever since.
Like all my weimaraners (except for the hyper athletic Candy) he has been an enthusiastic and steady performer in my videos and photos. During his early years he was overshadowed by the more endearing looking Chip who starred in about a dozen books for children and many videos for Sesame Street. It took me a while to truly appreciate Bobbin's overwhelming loyalty to me and to his steadiness on the set.
Now that he knows his home is with me, wherever I go, he enjoys Maine. He like to run, trot actually, very long distances on bike rides on the loving roads of Maine. We often go 10 or 15 miles. I assume he likes doing it because the choice to follow is his. Bobbin is very different in our upstate NY weekend home, where he can graze in the fields and follow his nose.
Recently he performed live in a Karole Armitage dance piece conceived for him. It was totally amazing and partly successful. I had to miss the last of three performance and he went a little nuts looking for me.
I plan on photographing him next week concentrating on his portrait. I'm thinking they may resemble the late portraits I took of Man Ray in the last months of his life.
William Wegman, How They are Toward Newspapers, 1973
July 27th is Man Ray's birthday. Man Ray was WW's first weimaraner, and the first dog he worked with in the studio.
"Some dogs don't like to be stared at. Man Ray required it. Surrounded by light-boxes that flanked the cyclopean eye of the big camera, he was truly at ease, never balking as I studied him for new possibilities. As the strobes pop in a blast of light, Man Ray appears in afterimage. So illuminated, he begins to glow, growing larger in my mind. In the act of being photographed he becomes magnified." William Wegman, 2002
William Wegman, Fey Ray, 1979
On the transition from black and white to color photography with Man Ray:
"I distrusted color. Sensuous, romantic, elusive color. Color was...well...colorful. On my third day with the (polaroid) camera, a bottle of Revlon red nail polish made its way on to the set with Man Ray. The little bottle was acceptable. It wasn't simply red. It was red nail polish. As I applied it to Man Ray's toenails I convinced myself that it was okay. No one could accuse me of using color subjectively. After positioning Ray on the black set paper and composing the frame, I said, "shake." As he raised his paw with the painted toenails, I snapped the shutter, and seventy-five seconds later -- color! There was no denying it." - William Wegman, 2002
"Since his death in 1982, Ray's come back to me in dreams eight or nine times to save me from big problems. When I used to work on drawings and paintings, Ray would get jealous because he hated being ignored, and when I first started painting again in 1986 Ray came back to me in a dream. He was speaking to me in English and he said, 'Now wait a minute Bill, we don't have to do this. We can do some photographs right now. Or perhaps a video.'" - WW, in the Los Angeles Times, 1988
William Wegman, Tail, 1974
Last summer, Topper joined the Wegman family. Now, he has turned one, and WW talks a bit about what it has been like working with him...
Happy first birthday Topper!
It's been an interesting year. His older half sister Flo spent the summer giving him the lay of the land in Maine. Topper came to me at 8 weeks, already knowing how to sit for pictures, so the next step was easy: To the great outdoors. It meant placing him on a tree stump in the woods or rock in the lake and stepping back to frame and shoot.
In the studio back in NYC he followed Flo's brilliant example on set and showed us photogenic potential. "Those luminous eyes!" "Riveting..." "So handsome! " the critics raved.
Unlike Flo, he couldn't care less about his reviews. He knows he's good.
Need more Topper? Here is his first year, in pictures: