I started taking photos of dog poop bags along the trails by the Potomac River after I started to notice something odd: In virtually all cases, the dog poopers had carefully placed their bags by something, on something, in something, or tied to something.
This was clearly an aspect of human behavior that needed to be documented. And so I set off to do just that.
Over time I found that my photos of these little plastic sacks, each with its unique cargo, served as more than mere documentation about the workings of the human mind (see ‘The Poop Bag Puzzle’). I began to appreciate how many of them challenged—and occasionally complemented—their natural settings with visual statements about the relationship between man and nature. Some even aspire to rise to the level of art (see ‘Poop bag portraiture’).
Following below is what may be the world’s first photographic excursion into the world of dog poop bags. Each photo has a message, and many can even lay claim to a certain kind of beauty, some even bordering on the sublime.
A poop bag emerges from hibernation.
Historical marker describes canal houses.
Somehow it just landed there.
Ears in the relaxed mode.
A carefully placed offering peeks out of a storm sewer vent.
A sign misses one important detail: a poop bag at its base.
While dog poopers favor oaks, beeches will do in a pinch.
Sitting proud, with the C&O Canal in the background.
Late afternoon n a bed of duckweed.
An addition to nature’s palette.
A poop bag contemplates a fork in the trail.
A dangerous river, even for poop bags.
Nice looking car.
A classic spot at the base of a mighty oak.
On a bluff over the Potomac River.
Don’t let your poop bag get too close to the river.
Poop bag parked in a no parking zone.
Flattened on a storm sewer cover.
Cherry blossom time.
Revealed by the springtime thaw.
A poop bag punctuates a sign telling people to tend to their trash.
Composition with rocks.
By next day a windstorm had blown it into the canal below.
No permit needed for poop bags.
Poop bags making their escape.
Sentinel on the Potomac River.
Bridge over the C&O Canal.
Celebration of spring.
Yellow swallowtail stalks a partially hidden bag.
An aristocrat of poop bags.
In good company.
A composition in green and blue.
A nice day for a walk–or just leaning against a tree.
Fresh and plump.
In a grip of iron and concrete.
The security of a good tree trunk.
Sunny accent for a common curbside (photo courtesy of Roberto Rodrigues).
A simple overhand knot is all it takes.
An ornament hangs in a reflected tree.
Here’s at least one bag that will be reunited with its owner.
It’s a threesome.
Crushed by branches blown down by a windstorm.
A geranium would have also been nice.
Something new at Mile 11.
Spot of color on a government-issue sign.
A designer bag proudly sits on an oak stump.
Glowing in the afternoon sun.
Can’t decide on which post? Put it in the middle!
Dog pooper will be back for this one.