on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Endframe: Bulldogs by Elliott Erwitt

David Taylor talks about one of his favourite images

David Taylor Sq

David Taylor

David Taylor is a professional freelance landscape photographer and writer who lives in Northumberland. His first camera was a Kodak Instamatic. Since then, he’s used every type of camera imaginable, from bulky 4x5 film cameras to pocket-sized digital compacts. David has written over 40 books, as well as supplying images and articles to both regional and national magazines and newspapers. He also runs one-to-one workshops in north-east England. When David is not outdoors, he can be found at home with his wife, a cat, and an increasingly large number of tripods.


I say, I say, I say... My dog's got no nose.
How does he smell?

Okay, that's perhaps not the funniest joke imaginable. (Though who knows, it may once have been. Gosh, the long winter nights must have been interminable then.) It's still a joke however, and one that could bring a smile – however fleeting – to someone's face. Possibly even someone over the age of five.

After seven years schlepping around the Vienna circuit as a stand-up comedian, Sigmund Freud put the experience to good use by writing 'Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious' (a book that's far funnier in its original German*). The one problem with the book is that it focuses purely on verbal humour. It has nothing to say about visual humour. This is a pity.

* Ein vorbewußter Gedanke wird für einen Augenblick der unbewußten Bearbeitung überlassen, und deren Ergebnis wird alsbald von der bewußten Wahrnehmung erfaßt.' Classic Freud, I'm sure you'll agree!

Verbal humour is slippery. To get a joke requires a subtle understanding of language and culture. 'My dog's got no nose' relies on the fact that the word 'smell' has two separate but interrelated definitions in English. It's the unexpected jump from the first definition to the second that prompts laughter at the punchline. Without a sound grasp of English you'd just be puzzled at the conclusion of the joke and not find it funny (it isn't funny. Let's just pretend that it is). 

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