The result is Dog Bless You: The Photography of Mary Bloom, a New York City exhibition featuring a lifetime of dog photographs taken by Mary Bloom, who has been called “the dean of doggie paparazzi’’ in her role as the Westminster Kennel Club’s staff photographer.
Bloom has dedicated her life to protecting and helping animals, a love that started early in her career. In 1978 she was the only woman photographer assigned to document the controversial clubbing of Harp Seals off the coast of Newfoundland, and the Grey Seal hunt on the Orkney Islands. Her powerful images made news around the world, helping to end the brutal practice.
A dog lover since childhood, Bloom has devoted decades to capturing the essence of the dog, from dignified portraits to rollicking fun, and got her start in the photography business by taking images to promote the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The exhibition at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine showcases the versatility of her work. In one shot she captures that tender encounter as a therapy dog interacts with a hospital patient who dearly needs some puppy love. Then the next frame shows that crowning moment when the bright lights of Madison Square Garden beam down on a dog and handler who become the ultimate champions at Westminster. There are joyful moments of everyday life with dogs, and somber portraits of homeless people clinging to the unconditional, and nonjudgemental love of a pet.
In addition to the dog photos, Bloom was Photographer-in-Residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine from the early 1980s to 2002, covering every aspect of life at the cathedral in photos that capture the grandeur of holiday services, as well as intimate human moments. A slideshow that accompanies the exhibition cycles through decades of Bloom’s loving photographs of dogs as well as her work as the cathedral’s photographer.
A curious Smooth Coated Chihuahua inspects what might be in the box bearing his breed name during judging at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.
A young boy reads to a therapy dog, part of a reading program.
In the harsh world of the homeless, a young dog comforts her owner as he sleeps on a chilly day.
See more photos from the show:
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is located at 1047 Amsterdam Ave., at 112th St. The cathedral is open seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is a suggested admission of $10 per person. Visit stjohndivine.org for more information.