Who Instagrammed it better — photographer Naomi Harris or her furry sidekick?
Harris and rescued shih tzu Maggie document their travels in separate Instagram feeds
Name: Naomi Harris and Maggie
Naomi Harris is a self-proclaimed "semi-professional hobo / actual professional photographer" who, together with her rescued shih tzu Maggie, will hit the road in a car outfitted with a sleeper bed whenever and wherever the wind blows them. Scrolling back through Harris' Instagram feeds is like following a breadcrumb trail of their travels. Yes, feeds — you read that right. Maggie has her own Instagram account.
Harris's vibrant photography documents the kookier side of life – Bible belt swingers, avid nudists, a Sikh motorcycle club, kitschy Canadians, and most recently, Americans enacting the cultural traditions of Europeans (and vice versa) for a series called EUSA, mounted tonight in Toronto. She faithfully posts a generous selection of her work on Instagram, as well as a fair number of photos of the always-adorable Maggie posing in different locales.
In fact, she used to post more dog pics until she realized that her art photography fans weren't necessarily Maggie fans and her Maggie fans were turning away at the sight – for instance – of an overly-tanned older woman checking out her heavily painted eyebrows in a small blue mirror (she lost 10 followers for that).
Eventually, she came to realize that Maggie needed her own account. Harris nurtured aspirations for Maggie to join the ranks of shih tzu stars like @dailydougie, who has a whopping 404,000+ followers. Maggie's got a long way to go, however; at press time, her devotees numbered just 716.
But it's the quality of the images, not the quantity of followers that matters more to Harris. "Yeah, Dougie's cute," she concedes. "But he's like, 'Here I am, I'm a dog' in all of his photos and it's pretty much the same picture: Dougie against a background that's usually the same colour as him. Whereas Maggie is like, 'Today I'm at Mount Rushmore, then I'm at Devil's Tower.' Every day Maggie is different, but I think that's the problem. Instagram sites with continuity do so much better."
Dogs in costumes – like @trotterpup (209k followers) or @mensweardog (213k) – also fare better, but Harris chooses to treat her fluffy muse with the same sensitivity and respect she shows all her oddball subjects, whom she never portrays in a mocking light.
"I will never humiliate Maggie," she says, "I may dress her up in tinfoil for Easter to make her look like an Easter Bunny being unwrapped, or, in Las Vegas I had money all around her like that movie with Demi Moore, Indecent Proposal. But I won't put ridiculous clothes or costumes on Maggie. You have to have some standards."
EUSA runs from August 27-September 19,2015 at Toronto's Circuit Gallery, 401 Richmond W., Suite 124.
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