Photography that goes beyond the image
By Pam Bonsper
Shortly after moving to New York City from Europe in 2010, award-winning fine-art photographer Sophie Gamand became fascinated with dogs and the subculture that revolved around them. “When I came to New York, I had to reinvent myself. My challenge was to take my work in a new direction. I started with street photography, but I found myself taking more photos of dogs than people.”
With both a documentarian and a fine-art approach, Sophie photographs dogs at her Brooklyn studio or on location, bringing her portable set-up to clients’ homes and to animal shelters. Sophie got her start in dog photography by entering the Cobble Hill Animal Clinic and volunteering her photographic skills. Peeking at her from behind a wall was a white dog with blue eyes, standing there looking slightly bewildered. The dog, whose name is Sebastian, inspired Sophie to think about the many questions about how people and dogs cope, living in a big-city environment. Are animals meant to live a city lifestyle? What are the consequences for them? To what extent do humans go to fit their pets into their urban lifestyle? Sophie knew that she had found her quest and niche as an artist.
The white dog with the blue eyes can be found on Sophie’s website in her series, “At The Vet.”
Sophie volunteers half her photography time to animal charities and shelters. Through her “Striking Paws” program she is dedicated to giving back to homeless pets by providing high-quality portraits of adoptable animals to rescues and shelters to help promote them in the highly competitive adoption circuit. Sophie has documented the work of rescue groups to help bring awareness to key issues, such as the work of The Sato Project (www.thesatoproject.org), an organization orchestrating better lives for the stray dogs of Puerto Rico.
Sophie often finds herself educating rescuers about the importance of a good photo and how it can get a dog noticed and adopted. An image is worth a thousand words, as we all know. To that end she has developed and taught photo workshops for animal rescuers to help them better their photography. Good images can help save more lives!
And finally, Sophie has helped raise money for various charities by setting up an on-site photo booth during events and collecting donations in exchange for a photo shoot, or by selling prints or calendars.
Some of Sophie’s many unique ongoing dog-photo series include:
Dog Pageant documents the unique over-the-top world of canine fashion competitions in New York City. In her studio, Sophie recreates a similar competition atmosphere with very stylish canines as her models.
Wet Dog and Metamorphosis reveal the process and resulting magical transformation of dogs being reborn at the groomers. Sophie’s photos from the Wet Dog series won her first place at the prestigious 2014 Sony World Photography Awards, in the portraiture category. She is currently working on a Wet Dog book (scheduled for Fall 2015).
At The Vet shows scared, relaxed, bewildered animals. Sophie captures the mixed emotions experienced by cats and dogs while visiting their veterinarians.
Opera Dogs captures dog models in the midst of song-like vocalizations and facial expressions as if they were belting out an aria.
Dog Vogue shows dogs adorned in unique costumes
designed by Anthony Rubio in front of subtle backgrounds and posed with artistic style.
Dead Dog Beach underscores the harsh reality endured by the quarter of a million stray dogs roaming the United States Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Watchdog captures the artful toughness of her smaller canine models. These costumes were designed and created by Sophie, using feathers and jewelry.
Flower Power softens the images of the lovable, adoptable, often misunderstood Pit Bull mixes. The beautiful studio shots of rescued, adoptable Pit Bulls shed new light on these dogs. With her #PitBullFlowerPower campaign on social media, Sophie hopes to bring awareness to the hundreds of thousands of Pit Bulls euthanized each year. Prints of these images are available, as well as a 2015 calendar titled Flower Power, Pit Bulls of the Revolution. Proceeds will benefit the rescue groups involved.
Enjoy Sophie’s photography and follow her career as she continues to create and capture amazing images of dogs and continues to help put the spotlight on dogs in need.
Visit Sophie’s website at www.sophiegamand.com to see more images, and for more information regarding her rescue work visit www.strikingpaws.com. Follow her on Instagram @SophieGamand.