Cruising canines caught on camera


Lara Jo Regan, an L.A. photographer, readily admits to a tremendous passion for dogs and photography. She very successfully combines these two loves in the recently published Dogs in Cars.
A photographic artist and filmmaker, Lara has received many of the highest honors in her fields, including the World Press Photo of the Year (2002). She is the creator of the Mr. Winkle photo collection, which became an international cult phenomenon. Her groundbreaking work has appeared in galleries, museums, books, and magazines.
Stuck in traffic one day, she noticed a dog with its head hanging out of a car window. Lara knew that she was witnessing the essence of primal joy. She couldn’t take her eyes off the scene of flapping jowls and flying ears trying to capture every scrap of the outside air, so she rigged up harnesses to hang out of car windows and built lighting contraptions to capture the dogs in their joy and rapture.
Lara is quick to point out that what she did should only be attempted by a professional. Even though we all enjoy watching dogs in cars, capturing these pictures can sometimes be quite dangerous without the right equipment. She explained that she wanted to combine the dogs’ overall euphoria, along with the aesthetic beauty passing by them. Scenery needed to be a big part of this pictorial even though it is not what the dogs are enjoying. Lara began her pet project as a calendar, but the response was overwhelming and absolute. Her photographs of the cruising canines, taken from incredible perspectives, became a global Internet sensation.
When chatting with Lara, she admitted a few things:
(1) She is a huge fan of all things that crack her up and certainly dogs do that;
(2) Her favorite picture is the one of three pugs that is highlighted on the back dust cover of the hardcover book. It reminds her of the historical photo of Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill;
(3) L.A. and city dogs in general are more pampered. With more establishments catering to the population, it is a great place to be the canine family pet.
The author/photographer also told me that she could never consider a life without love for animals. Her passion makes Dogs in Cars a book on an animal lover’s coffee table that can be enjoyed over and over again. “They are natural comedians,” she giggled. She has three of these comedians herself. At home, “you can hug them, you can touch them, and that is rare in an increasingly impersonal world.” Social media, where we share the latest pictures and videos of our favorite animals, reveals our intense love for dogs, she observed.
This book is just plain fun and like the pups that greet us when we come after a hard day, it is sure to make us smile.
Dogs in Cars (November 3, 2014; Countryman Press/W.W. Norton hardcover; ISBN 978-0-58157-279-7; $19.95; 76 pages
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