AKC Gazette, “Times Past”—Joan Ludwig was a leading ringside photographer of the mid-20th century. She could take a routine win shot with the best of them, but what set Ludwig apart was her eye for the unexpected. Alone among her peers, she sought the offbeat, the comical, the ironic. The photo here is a classic sample of the Ludwig touch.
Ludwig chose just the right moment to etch her cast of characters at the 1964 Glendale Kennel Club show: veteran judge Dr. Frank Porter Miller, who’s been around long enough to know there’s nothing wrong with this show that couldn’t be fixed by dry socks and an even drier martini; dog groomer Jerry Roose putting a good face on what was undoubtedly a very long day; the beaming breeder-exhibitor Virginia R. Withington, whose pride no foul weather could dampen; and, the visual punch line, a soggy but serene Afghan Hound Am./Mex. Ch. Pandora of Stormhill, gazing at us as if to say, “What fools these mortals be.” Like the best of Norman Rockwell, the whimsical tableau invites the viewer to fill in missing details.
Framing the composition are raindrops reacting with the camera’s flash to produce an ethereal trick of light. That Ludwig was able to get such a masterly shot under brutal conditions is testament to her craftsmanship; that she somehow imbued it with her distinctive humor suggests a touch of genius.
Ludwig died in 2004, at age 89. The sport has gone on, but Ludwig took some of the fun of it with her. —Bud Boccone