Die Französin Sophie Gamand lebt und arbeitet in New York City. Ihren Fokus nicht nur in der Fotografie hat sie auf Hunde und unsere Beziehung zu Ihnen gelegt. New York City mit über 8 Millionen Einwohnern ist eine Großstadt, die nicht in erster Linie optimal ist für die Haltung von Tieren wie Hund und Katze geeignet ist. Sind Hunde immer noch Tiere oder werden sie zu den neuen Kids in einer Gesellschaft in der Treue und Beständigkeit leere Worte sind.
Hunde sind, so Sophie Gamand, soziale Anker in unserer westlichen Gesellschaft und ersetzen in großen Städten, Kinder, Ehepartner und Freunde, während in anderen Regionen der Welt, Hunde als wild gelten und rücksichtslos und grausam behandelt werden.
Mit ihrer Serie „Flower Power“ zeigt sie, dass wir mit einem Vorurteil gegenüber Pitbulls, die als gefährliche Kampfhunde deklariert sind, aufräumen müssen. Inwieweit ist der Mensch für die Gefährlichkeit dieser Tiere veranwortlich mit einer falschen Hundeerziehung?
Sophie Gamand appelliert mit ihrer Fotoserie für die Vermittlung der Pitbulls, die Hunde suchen ein liebevolles Zuhause in New York City. Die wunderschönen Blumenkränze verdeutlichen, dass in diesen Hunden nicht das böse Raubtier schlummert, sondern ein liebevoller Charakter, wenn man sie richtig behandelt und erzieht.
Sophie Gamand’s Arbeiten haben längst internationale Anerkennung erfahren, für ihre Wet Dog Serie erhielt sie 2014 eine Auszeichnung des renommierten Sony World Photography Awards 2014. Ihre Arbeiten erscheinen in renommierten Magazinen und anderen Medien wie The Telegraph, Guardian, CNN, Yahoo, MSN, My Modern Metropolism The Huffington Post, Time Out New York, La Repubblica, El Colombiano, The Wall Street Journal usw.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What sparked your interest in photography especially animal photography?
I am a French award-winning fine-art photographer focusing on dogs only. I have been photographing dogs since 2010. My interest for dog photography started by accident. I wanted to do documentary photography and I was searching for a subject when I ventured into a vet clinic. There was a dog in the waiting room, who looked so out of place and worried, it made him look human. I decided to explore all the things we do to integrate dogs in our urban lifestyle. Almost immediately, I got very involved with dog rescue, and discovered the world of high fashion for dogs.
How do you keep yourself motivated and your photography creative, inspiring and fresh?
I don’t have to try hard. I am obsessed. I think that’s how artists are. They are not necessarily more hard working than other people, but they are obsessed. So they just cannot stop. I get very depressed if I spend a week without working on a project. I have tons of ideas. I have been very lucky that my latest projects (Wet Dog and then Flower Power) have gained so much attention. These 2 projects have kept me incredibly busy since late 2013. But I always work on several projects at once. I am ready to release my latest series in a few weeks. It is called Prophecy. And as I was working on it I shot another series during a trip to New Mexico. I let ideas come to me and when they feel strong enough I act on them. I try to not over-think the creative process. It was my mistake before, and it paralyzed me. The best advise I could give to an artist is: DO! Start doing something. Because things only take shape and things only happen when you start doing.
Tell us something to your way of thinking and acting for your work „Flower Power“?
Flower Power: Pit Bulls of the Revolution is a series dedicated to pit bulls, especially those in shelters. This project started as an excuse for me to discover more about pit bulls. Like many people, I admittedly had prejudices against them. But as an active volunteer with many rescue groups, I often came in contact with pit bulls and was slowly warming up to their sweet nature. I decided to confront my apprehensions and explore their soft side in a visual way.
I realized pit bulls were always portrayed in very urban, gritty photographs. The imagery associated with these dogs is often harsh, very contrasted, conveying the idea of them being tough badass. In my opinion, this feeds the myth that these dogs are dormant psychopaths. So I decided to take the other route and portray them like hippies, soft fairy-tale inspired characters, feminine and dreamy. The idea of Flower Power blossomed.
I made flower headpieces and approached rescue groups in New York City that are involved in Pit Bull rescue.
Upwards 1,000,000 pit bulls are euthanized each year in America’s shelters. Victims of prejudices, they are probably the most misunderstood dogs. Pit bulls, like any terrier dogs, are strong and powerful animals. There is no denying that. But power does not necessarily mean violence. Most pit bulls are harmless, and others just need experienced owners who will understand their temperament.
„Flower Power“ is about challenging myself to approach pit bulls with a fresh perspective and an open heart. I invite the viewer to do the same.
I created a calendar for 2015, and the proceeds will benefit the rescue groups and support the campaign.
I also created the #PitBullFlowerPower campaign to invite people to post a picture of their pet with flowers (all species and breeds welcome!) as a sign of support for all pit bulls.
How much time do you spend taking photos versus retouching photos?
It depends on the project of course, For Flower Power there is more retouching because I painted digitally on top of the portraits. I photograph the dogs with the flowers and then I add digital painting, blur, etc. I think now I am faster because I know what I want to achieve so a Flower power portrait probably takes about 5 to 30 minutes to photograph and about 2 hours to retouch.
What is you dream project?
I have two dream projects at the moment (every day brings a different one!): I would love to document stray dogs around the US and the world (similar to Dead Dog Beach, but including the local residents as well). I would like to show the relationship they have with people, and how local population deal with them around the world, also how these dogs look and if there are physical similarities amongst stray dogs of the world.
The second project is that I have been toying with the idea of touring the US with a Flower power campaign, maybe visiting schools and photographing pit bulls in shelters from different cities. It would be a big undertaking! But how amazing would it be!!
Sophie Gamand ist mit Herz und Seele Tierfreund und unterstützt Tierwohtätigkeitsorganisationen, ihre karitativen Arbeiten kann man unter www.StrikingPaws.com verfolgen.