Subject matter

In this final video from the March photography assessment exercise, Jose talks about subject matter.


  1. Dewald 3 July 2012 at 1:47 am

    Thank you.
    Very interesting to see different way of using photography and media, and how Simon connects the method of creating the image with the context behind it.
    I was also very interested to know which subject, and how Marie-France approached her work, and how she presented her work… a very interesting take (commentary?) on something that at first glance is only about the dogs, but actually comments so much about society.

  2. Yiann 3 July 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Very inspirational indeed. Thank you Jose and Mark for this piece.

  3. Eileen 3 July 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Very interesting – both sets of work repay further thought. I found the dog pictures terribly compelling. Simon’s work is something I’d really like to see more of so I can reflect on the points Jose made – aside from the still shots of moving screens I am not sure that the glimpses we saw are sufficient to give a proper sense of the work.

    I am also very glad to see more level three work making its appearance in these videos. More please!

  4. AMANO 5 July 2012 at 8:46 am

    As someone who has been working on making a portfolio of images of a particular dog, I was struck by the images of pooches, of dogs as a sociological phenomena; would like to see a fuller picture of this body of work which is making a relevant statement about the role of dogs in human life. Some of the images I find distasteful such as the one photographed with ears like a devil but this is not the fault of the photographer rather they are highlighting the obsessive kind of behaviour around dogs. It makes me question my own body of work and where if anywhere it might be going. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Marie-France Bergerre 6 July 2012 at 9:46 am

    My book was obviously intended as an investigation into a sociological phenomena which is escalating in Hong Kong. My images were meant to shock and surprise the viewer. I approached the subject as a sociological investigation, researching and reading but most especially meeting people, asking questions and discovering new places and opportunities . I went to all gatherings regrouping dogs and dogs owners, fairs and charities and spoke often about my project to anyone who would listen , often gathering much needed information.
    To Dewald, Yiann an Eileen, thank you. Amano, I was surprised by your comments on the “she devil ” photo. I never had such a reaction to this particular image.People are mostly amused by it. But then maybe it means that it really worked. It shocked you and you won’t forget it, which is what every photographer wants after all.

    1. AMANO 6 July 2012 at 9:26 pm

      I never used the expression “she-devil”; the ears are devil like but the sex is uncertain!

      1. Marie-France Bergerre 7 July 2012 at 6:26 am

        I apologize for the confusion…it’s the title of the photo!

        1. AMANO 7 July 2012 at 8:23 am

          Well, I find the title of the photo more shocking than the subject – “she-devil” strikes me as a sexist comment – are there no he-devils? Why should a dog be a devil of any kind since devils are projections of the human mind – yes, I appreciate the humour in the title but it does not make me laugh.
          Its’ interesting to see the way in which you have approached your subject which is not so much about dogs but the manner in which they are treated.

        2. AMANO 7 July 2012 at 8:33 am

          By the way, is your book available for purchase … e.g. via Blurb !?

        3. Marie-France Bergerre 8 July 2012 at 7:53 am

          It seems nothing I say can make you look at my work with humor. She devil or not, i do not encourage this kind of behaviour concerning dogs nor do I like it. Hence the title Barking Mad…the title She devil is sarcastic, obviously….you would probably really disapprove all the other images then and most would make you cringe. and no, my book is not available on line as it will be in bookstores in September.

        4. AMANO 8 July 2012 at 10:43 am

          Marie-France Many people are going to see your work which is good yet many people are going to see it differently … some like myself are going to be struck by the inherent cruelty of making dogs look and behave like humans. I can see the humour but there is a dark side that helps to give your work gravitas.
          Surely it is a mistake to expect a particular reaction to one’s images. You seem to think that I lack humour, have been shocked by your images and that I would “disapprove” and “cringe” at other images. Well that is your idea not mine; as a viewer I want to feel free to respond to these images as I feel fit not according to the photographer’s intent although these can of course collude.
          My own approach to the domesticity of dogs can be seen at You may not be interested but we are both dealing with the same subject I think but in different ways.
          Probably what you would like me to do is echo the comments of others and say what accomplished photos they are etc but I felt to respond in depth, a greater compliment perhaps.

        5. AMANO 8 July 2012 at 10:53 am

          Here is a link to an interview I did with the OCA about a dog photo …

          Perhaps your body of work about dogs is over for you but if not then mine might inform you a little as your’s has done mine.

        6. AMANO 8 July 2012 at 5:38 pm

          There is a book called “In Defence of Dogs” by John Bradshaw, considered to be a leading canine researcher. He writes about the fact that dogs do experience emotions, an generally acknowledged fact, and so when I see a dog perched rather precariously on a boat in a rather awkward position, I see not just the humour in the incongruity of the situation, but also the distinct possibility that the dog is actually experiencing fear.
          The dog I photograph loves to be petted but when that petting goes beyond a certain limit, she seems to sense the insincerity of obsessiveness, and struggles to get free – call her a “she devil” and she would not know what you are talking about but she might react because dogs have feelings.
          So I think your photos are great but not perhapss in the way you intended!!

  6. Eileen 8 July 2012 at 8:48 am

    I hope you will let us know when the book is published and available Marie-France.

    Now you have completed the degree, what are your plans? Would you consider an MA or have you had enough of study? I am some time away from finishing my course but can’t help wondering sometimes what I will do after that, photographically speaking.

  7. Marie-France Bergerre 8 July 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Amano, you are free to respond to my images in any way you deem fit. As I said more than once my book is indeed a critique of Hong Kong society and I obviously chose to do it in a sarcastic way. I do think that dressing up a dog or coloring his fur is silly and cruel but not everyone shares our point of view. I explained this in the preface of the book. Maybe you missed it.
    The bottom line is we share the same view. I just chose sarcasm and irony to expose it.

    As for your question Eileen, enough studying now. I think it is time for me to really use and put into practice all I have learnt. I can’t be a student forever. So, no MA for me. I took a leap of faith with the book and hopefully it will prove to be the right decision. As for what comes next I don’t know yet but I will cross that bridge when the time comes…

    1. AMANO 8 July 2012 at 10:43 pm

      Marie-France, I have not seen your book only a few images from the OCA video. Please let us know when the book becomes available – a posting on this page would reach me and no doubt others who have signed up to receive emails from this particular blog. There is an introductory page on the video I know but the text is very small and like the “she-devil” caption I missed it.

  8. Dewald 9 July 2012 at 10:10 am

    Marie-France, would the book be available in the mainland?
    Best of luck with the leap of faith…

    I’m going to try to mention some thoughts, without getting involved in the conversation above…

    In our family, dogs have always been treated well, even some of the extended family were unable to have children of their own, and hence the importance of the family dog, and how their dog’s role and relationship in the family shifted slightly.
    MF’s commentary on HK’s society, and the way that people humanize their dogs, is interesting. To me, the humor is there, but living here, I immediately picked up on the comment layer in the images in the video.

    My thoughts on this have gone in all different directions, one of which was, how the role of the dog has changed. A few years back, one of my students tried to shock me with the idea that they eat dogs in certain parts of China… well, Lonely Planet prepared me for that titbit of info. But I do think that it has changed. Yes, more people (in my city) have dogs the past years, where 5 years ago it wasn’t such a common sight.

    I couldn’t help but wonder, how much influence the one-child-family has had on people now spending more time and money on their dog. The other thing linking to this, is that people obviously have more money to spend (read flaunt), and meticulously manicured dogs being just one of the ways that have emerged as a way to do so.

    If my memory holds, in South Africa a few years ago, people finally managed to ban the cutting of the ears of pitbulls in order to make their ears stand up. But I don’t see anything stopping people here from possibly going overboard in using their pets as a way to try to express their (boredom?) personality to the world.
    Of course, I would hope, and I do think that a majority of people over here actually do have the welfare of their dogs in mind.

    I would really like to have a chance to page through your book Marie-France, to see the whole body of work, and how you approached it.

  9. AMANO 9 July 2012 at 10:14 am

    Yes, I also feel this body of work needs to be seen as a whole rather than fragmented. The video asks us to see the work in terms of an OCA assessment but there is obviously much more to it than this.

  10. Marie-France Bergerre 10 July 2012 at 9:51 am

    My original intention was to portray the horrible faith of dogs in China and juxtapose it with the the life of pampered dogs in Hong kong. As Dewald has infact rightly said dog meat is still widely eaten in some areas and Canton, just across the border from hk is no exception. But then I had to change plans as not only I couldn’t face photographing the beatings involved in the slaughtering of the animals but also couldn’t possibly submit something so gruesome. For those of you you can stomach such pictures you can witness first hand by going to His work is truly magnificent but his images concerning dogs are truly horrible. I just couldn’t do it. It was just too much for me.
    Hong kong is obviously not concerned by the one child policy but there is a definite trend to humanize pets and the Cute Obsession which has enthralled Japan for years has finally caught on here, hence the clothes , the prams and so on…for those of you who don’t live in Asia it might be a bit more difficult to understand I admit. But surely you all know Hello Kitty!!!
    The book will only be available in hong kong for now. But I do hope to get it into mainland China. Who knows? Best of luck to all of you

  11. AMANO 10 July 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Thanks for the fill-in Marie-France!

    Am sure that a lot of the dog activity is well intentioned and might even be enjoyed by the dogs – after all, most dogs like a certain amount of adulation. Its’ just that it can go too far and make dogs suffer – a lot of people would probably ridicule the idea of dog’s suffering because they are just animals but animals do have rights as well as feelings!

    I can understand why you don’t want to photograph actual violence to animals. I did try to follow the link you mentioned but it didn’t work so I copied it into the browser address. Got to the website but could find nothing about dog cruelty.

    Your photographs have provoked me.

  12. Marie-France Bergerre 10 July 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Amano, the link here above will redirect you to the pages. A word of warning, the images are really difficult to digest. If the link doesn’t work go to the website then choose the Conservation gallery and pick the ” culture of killing” gallery. I expect to hear from you once you ve seen them..Unspeakable cruelty. I take you r saying that my images have provoked me as a compliment.

  13. AMANO 10 July 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Thanks Marie-France – horrible images – what to say – perhaps these kind of photos can help others to take action – they leave me feeling nauseous – not photographs I want to dwell on

    My being provoked by your images is surely complimented. When I see Paul Hilton’s I sense revulsion and powerlessness.

  14. Marie-France Bergerre 10 July 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Yes absolutely but Paul is really proactive and works against it all documenting everything he can. From orangutans to whale sharks his work is really powerful. I knew they would be difficult for you but he has done quite a lot to help raise awareness concerning shark finning amongst many things and slowly but surely, with every one doing his part something is changing, at least in hong kong!

  15. AMANO 10 July 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Good to hear when photography can help make a difference


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