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.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
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, capturing 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 human beings, 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 owner about his dog. I looked at photos and asked many questions. Each dog has or does certain things in his life that define who he is or what he is 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 “go with” each dog truly exemplifies 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.
Meet Bear, the English Bulldog. English Bulldogs are known for their stubbornness and sometimes get frustrated when they don’t get what they want. So how does he channel all that frustration? By chewing everything he can!
Here is Marmaduke, the street dog. He 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.
The Australian Shepherd is a very high-energetic breed that is well known for their intelligence and their obsession to fetch just anything. Knuckles most definitely fits that breed standard; hence, the frisbees and medals that show how good he is when he competes.
Meet 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, all to get her back on her feet. But despite her painful story, she is fueled by love and hope.
Lola Rose, is a white Maltese Shih Tzu mix. She is very spoiled dog that has her own Instagram profile and she’s very much treated as the princess of the house.
Here is 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.
Photographer: Prop Buyer & Stylist: Alicia Rius
Animal Handler: Rachael Green (Hollywood Animals)
Prop Stylist Assistant: Emily Baker
Digital Technician & Lighting Assistant: Alex KapustinRig Studio L.A
The Neurotic: Bear (English Bulldog, 4.5 years old)
The Senior: Magda (Cocker Spaniel Dachshund mix, 14 years old)
The Princess: Lola Rose (Maltese Shih Tzu mix, 1.3 years old)
The Best in Show: Zig (Afghan Hound, 3 years old)
The Fetcher: Knuckles (Australian Shepherd, 7 years old)
The Stray: Marmaduke (Shar Pei-Pitbull mix, 8 years old) - He’s up for adoption!
Thank you to all the participants and volunteers who helped me bring this project to life by lending me their dogs for the portraits and helping me collecting the items for the knolling photography.
To my husband Arnau Bosch for his endless feedback and being so supportive with the entire process, having to put up with food getting rotten in the garage, and dealing with the uncountable boxes of items around the house.
To the dogs that made some custom work for The Neurotic setup: Morticia ( Irish Wolfhound, 3 years old), Kodak (Australian Shepherd 11 months old) and to the others dogs that were kind enough to donate their “artwork”: Rob Low (Miniature Dachshund, 11 years old), Mocha Choco-Latte (Australian Heeler mix, 4.5 years old), and Yuki (Shiba Inu mix, 12 years old).
Thank you to Chris Bohmeyer, Majken Horst, Lesley Holden, Jennifer Vaux, Canella Welch, At Wagner, Melina Melor, Tamarra Dawn, Jeanine Jadodowicz, Chrissy Summers, Barbara Feick, Yayoi Roth, Chantalyn Huynh and Simona Otovic for lending and donating some of the items.