Wet Dog, captured inside a grooming parlor, is a series of portraits of dogs photographed during their least favorite activity: bath time. I chose this activity because it is a very unnatural situation for the dogs, yet it is a direct consequence of their cohabitation with humans. Domesticated dogs need to be washed for hygiene, health and social reasons.
Exposing the dogs at a vulnerable moment enabled me to capture their wide range of expressions. Poignant looks, despair, anger and even judgment can be read into their eyes. I believe dogs are more than animals and have acquired a status of persona. They also have been subdued, manipulated genetically, trained, modified into perfect companions. Men created Dogs the way God created Mankind. Are the wet dogs beckoning us the same way humanity reaches out for her own gods, asking the Almighty the reason behind their suffering? The urban dog has become somewhat of a mirror to our own condition and our ultimate solitude.
I am currently working on a Wet Dog book, scheduled for Fall 2015 (Grand Central Publishing/US, Aurum Press/UK, Livre de Poche/France, Riva/Germany). The Wet Dog series has won the Portraiture category of the Sony World Photography Awards 2014, and has been published in numerous online and paper publications.
In New York, dog fashion is a serious matter. In the unconventional world, pet couturiers and designers compete for the best designs and doggie moms fight for the spotlight while their precious dogs showcase exquisite outfits that can sell for hundreds of dollars.
Fascinated by the inherent anthropomorphism of this pet culture, photographer Sophie Gamand embarked on a series of portraits, Dog Vogue, inviting acclaimed pet couturier Anthony Rubio to create unique pieces, and a handful of Chihuahua as models. Using the garments created by the couturier, and styling each photograph carefully, Sophie Gamand photographed the dogs as if they were super models from lush fashion magazines.
With their larger-than-life attitude Chihuahuas were the perfect models for Sophie’s vision. She created a gallery of characters, dressing them up the way these dogs probably see themselves: like princesses and emperors, divas and knights.
Couture by Anthony Rubio Styling and Photography by Sophie Gamand Models: Bogie, Kimba, Amazing Grace, Daisy, Angel Song, Peach, Cosmo, Chester, Bleu, Sparky, Chai Latte, Coffee Bean, Diva.
Dead Dog Beach
The Lost Souls
There are 250,000 stray dogs in Puerto Rico, a US Commonwealth about the size of Connecticut. The stray population keeps on growing and no humane solution has as yet been found. Puerto Rican stray dogs are called “Satos” by locals. Although people own dogs as pets, they see Satos as vermin and these dogs live short lives of neglect and abuse.
Dead Dog Beach is located on the South-East coast of the island. A dumping ground, it is known for its stray dog population, and the abuse that has occurred on the isolated beach including gang rituals, target practice, and cars running over helpless dogs and puppies. Dogs are dumped here everyday. The Sato Project, a rescue group founded by New Yorker Chrissy Beckles, is their only source of fresh water and food, and rescues them as their resources allow it. Dead Dog Beach is one of the many beaches of the island overran by stray dogs.
On the beach, some of the dogs are very frightened or completely feral. Others have lived in homes and follow people around the beach, wagging their tails, looking for their owners, food, or a gentle hand. Some dogs are in a state of shock. Others, reconnecting with their deep wild nature, organize themselves into packs in their battle for survival.
As I am photographing, I sometimes wonder: could the dogs of Dead Dog Beach survive on their own? If not, why can’t they? Has our bond with dogs made us so codependent that we feel the need to rescue them, and has it made dogs unfit for life in the wild? The pursuit of these questions fuels my photographic exploration.
Metamorphosis is an ongoing project about dog grooming. Some people say that “grooming is like having a new dog”. Exploring different stages of the grooming process, I discover the multiple dogs hidden in one. Metamorphosis is a symbolic exploration of the domestication of dogs, who went from being wild animals to living with humans as pets. And as a consequence, have to follow a new set of social and hygienic rules dictated by their human owners.
The project was a finalist in the GIF category of the New York Photo Festival, 2014.
This is the project that fueled my obsession for dog photography. In 2010, having moved to New York, I pushed the door of the Cobble Hill Animal Clinic. Sebastian, the blue eyed dog, peeked from behind a wall. He looked worried, out-of-place. I took a photo of him and started wondering: are animals meant to live a city lifestyle? What are the consequences for them? To which extents do humans go to fit their pets in their urban lifestyle? The images from the vet clinic crystallize all the issues that arise (spay/neuter, declawing, diabetes, depressive states…).
Maintaining a pet in New York is very expensive. The vet bills lead some owners to abandon their animals or have them euthanized, where others are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars in medical treatments. The photos explore the place pets occupy at the clinic and how they try to fit in a stressful and unnatural environment.
** Work in progress **
The “Doggie moms” are women (and sometimes men) carrying dressed up toy dogs in purses everywhere they go. Through their dogs, they meet regularly, often for animal-related charity events, and for each occasion have their dog wear hundreds of dollars in bedazzled outfits. Pet fashion designers and Pet stylists have emerged, to provide this crowd with always more garments and accessories. It is a thriving business where designers compete, and the Doggie Moms, sometimes acting like Stage Moms, would do anything to see their dogs in the spotlight. Many of these dogs even have their own Facebook page. The Doggie Moms disappear behind their dog. But, similar to the kids’ pageants, if the focus appears to be on the dogs, isn't the show about their moms?
In a city like New York where having a child is so expensive, where people don’t want to give up their freedom or lifestyle, where they feel isolated and have a hard time meeting their soul mate, the dog seems to be the perfect answer: a child that never grows up, never fails you, shows eternal gratitude and unconditional love, can be shaped to be a projection of your ego, fits in a purse, is the ideal companion, and a social anchor. The word “pet” etymologically refers to the “indulged child”.
In 2013, New York City hosted its first Dog Pageant. 30 dogs competed for active wear, talent and evening wear.
Opera Dogs is an homage to opera singing through our canine friends.