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.
All images via Martin Usborne.