Emotionally Honest Portraits of Dogs Looking Out of Car Windows


Photographer Martin Usborne has always had a deep connection with animals, which shines through in his moving series titled The Silence of Dogs in Cars. There's a dark, cinematic quality to his work that simultaneously captures the heartbreaking image of a dog hopelessly waiting for his human and offers a deeper look at their rich emotional spectrum of a beloved animal—one that mirrors the complex, sentimental range of human beings.

The series is inspired by an experience that Usborne had as a child. “I was once left in a car at a young age. I don’t know when or where or for how long, possibly at the age of four, perhaps outside a supermarket, probably for fifteen minutes only,” Usborne explains. “The details don’t matter. The point is that I wondered if anyone would come back. The fear I felt was strong: in a child’s mind it is possible to be alone forever. Around the same age I began to feel a deep affinity with animals—in particular their plight at the hands of humans.”

The Silence of Dogs in Cars toys with fear of abandonment, something we all have felt, using dogs to mirror our own wide range of reactions—fear, resignation, anger, aggression, sadness. “What I didn’t expect,” Usborne admits, “was to see so many subtle reactions by the dogs: some sad, some expectant, some angry, some dejected. It was as if upon opening up a box of gray-colored pencils I was surprised to see so many shades inside.”

At the same time, Usborne's work has an edgy sense of humor. In one image, a Dalmatian elegantly sits in the back seat, as if waiting for her chauffeur to arrive, while in another a pooch hunches forward in the driver's seat, ready to put pedal to the metal. He honors them as intrepid animals, capable of emotion on a deep level. This love and respect permeates all of Usborne's work, including the year he spent trying to rescue as many animals as possible and his newest project honors Spanish hunting dogs.

This particular series has garnered great support through crowdfunding and is now a published book with over 45 images. It is currently available on Amazon.

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Martin Usborne: Website | Facebook
via [Arpeggia]

All images via Martin Usborne.

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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