Just like humans, dogs form attachments to their personal possessions and can give the viewer deeper insight into their identity. The items that shape their daily routine, that they carry, keep, and even eat- give us a glimpse into their hearts and minds. They show us what makes them most proud or happy and even puts their vulnerability on display. Capturing the things that mean the most to them also captures the heart of the viewer as the dog’s life is fully exposed in one image.
All my life I’ve been an animal lover, and when I started doing animal photography I wanted to go beyond just beautiful portraits. I wanted to capture each dog’s unique personality. Most of the time, in order to accomplish this, I would get the subject in action, doing what they like or do the best.
However, this time, I wanted to go even deeper and focus on specific objects that, within an instant, anyone can understand the dog’s style of living. With us as a human being, things all around us, such as our belongings, what we like, what we enjoy doing, the music we listen to, the things we read, and even the things we must do no matter what define who we are. The same applies to dogs. But sometimes it isn’t much of what they have, but rather an object or scene that surrounds them which enhances their personalities and tells you more about who they are. But, what are these objects?
To figure that out, I had to get to know the subjects. So I spoke to each of the owners about their dog. I looked at photos and asked many questions. Each dog has or does certain things in his life that define who they are or what are they going through.
After that, I took a look at each dog’s belongings and understood how his possessions “matched” what the owner had to say about their dog’s lifestyle and personality. The objects that “went with” each dog truly exemplified who the dog really IS. Using the dog’s belongings allowed me to go deeper into the life of the dog, and opened my eyes into his real world. So, for this project, I chose to represent their true stories in two frames: the dog and his world.
For example, Bear, the English Bulldog. English Bulldogs are known for their stubbornness and stubborn get frustrated when they don’t get what they want. So how does he channels all that frustration? By chewing everything he can!
Marmaduke, the street dog, is a rescued Pitbull mix. Because of his breed, he was abandoned and lived on the streets to survive as a scavenger. Life on the streets is very rough, tiresome and hopeless. So I knew I had to capture his journey in his eyes next to all the rotten food which was basically what he ate before being rescued. (Marmaduke is up for adoption via Pacific Pups Rescue.)
Or Knuckles, the Australian Sheperd, a very high energetic breed that is well known for their intelligence and their obsession to fetch just anything. Hence, the frisbees and medals that shows how good he is when he competes.
Or Magda, the very old dog. Her foster mom told me her story about how ill she was when she was surrendered at the shelter. Since then, Magda has endured a journey of vet visits, medications, skin treatments, daily injections… to get her back on her feet. But despite her painful story, she is fueled by love and hope.
Or Lola Rose, the white Maltese Shih Tzu mix. A very spoiled dog that has her own Instagram profile and she’s very much treated as the princess of the house.
Or Zig, the Afghan Hound that spends most of his days competing in dog shows to compete (and win!) the All-Breed Show title. This is an event where dogs are judged as to how closely each CONFORMS (hence the term "conformation") to its own breed's written standard of perfection.
The addition of objects creates meaning, draws conclusions, and brings attention back to the subject in the photo. So when looking at this series, you will first see the dog and his gaze, then you will look at the objects and suddenly, that gaze you just saw one second ago will become a gaze with impact and meaning. Vote for your favorite!