Man & Dog-NY-1980s-Jamel-Shabazz-Archive-Photos-Getty-Images-146427098

Thanks, Dad: Sage advice helps photographer snap powerful Man & Dog

June 14, 2012 | By Jamel Shabazz | Archive, Friends, Our artists

My father, who was a professional photographer and my first teacher, instilled in me early on the importance of understanding the functions of my camera, along with stressing composition, light and shutter speed. In addition, he told me it was imperative for me to carry my camera everyday – around my neck and set to shoot at a moment’s notice. This life lesson proved true when I captured “Man & Dog” in the early 1980′s as a 20-year-old aspiring photographer.

While traveling on Orchard Street on the Lower East Side of NYC one rainy day, I came upon a middle-aged man preparing to demonstrate to a small crowd of curious onlookers the power and strength of his faithful pit bull. In a quick decisive moment, the owner shouted a command to the dog, and without hesitation, the pit grabbed it’s leash with it’s powerful jaws and the owner began to swing the dog in a circular motion, elevating the dog in mid-air for about 10 seconds. Already having my Canon AE 1 SLR camera preset, I was able to capture one of the most important images in my collection, shooting only two frames.

For me this was a great moment, because it showed that I payed attention to my father’s teachings.

I am forever thankful for having a great father and hard teacher. The foundation that I stand on today is a result of the knowledge he passed on to me.


Man & Dog-NY-1980s-Jamel-Shabazz-Archive-Photos-Getty-Images-146427098

View of a man and his dog in the middle of Orchard Street near the intersection with Rivington Street, New York, New York, 1980. (Photo by Jamel Shabazz/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: Jamel Shabazz is a Brooklyn, NY-born photographer who has been documenting urban life for more than 30 years. The author of three monographs, “Back in the Days,” “The Last Sunday in June” and “A Time Before Crack,” he is now working on his fourth book, titled, “The ’90s.”  A collection of his stunning work is available through

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