PDN Photo of the Day

Sophie Gamand’s Romantic Portraits of Pit Bulls

Sophie Gamand’s series “Flower Power” is an attempt to cast against type in order to change the negative way pit bulls are often seen. For the project, Gamand has photographed close to 300 shelter dogs that have been labeled as pit bulls, each shown against a speckled, multicolor backdrop and looking at the camera with textbook puppy dog eyes. Using, as she describes it, the language of traditional portraiture and Baroque and Rococo esthetics, Gamand portrays these dogs—many of which are still up for adoption—as sweet, sympathetic creatures, each wearing a unique headpiece made by Gamand from dollar store-style fake flowers. As Gamand writes in a statement about the work, which is on view at Photoville in Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York until September 25, the series aims to challenge “the way society perceives and treats pit bulls by shortening the emotional distance between the viewer and these misunderstood dogs.”

Gamand has photographed dogs full time since 2010—other projects include “Wet Dog,” which was published as a book by Grand Central Publishing in 2015, and photo essays about strays in Puerto Rico, dog pageants, and hairless dogs. She traces her interest in dogs to their deep dependence on humans. As she writes on her website, “I photograph dogs to better understand humans.” Because the species has been so thoroughly domesticated by humans, many are or would be unable to survive in the wild. This, writes Gamand, “should give us tremendous responsibility towards dogs.” As she explains, “The way we treat them speaks volume about our own human society, and our shortcomings.”

Related Stories:
Revisiting “Shelter Dogs”
Where Hunting Dogs Rest
Shooting on Location: Winnie Au’s Dog Portraits

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