Artist Inspiration : Sophie Gamand

Sophie Gamand is an award-winning American photographer based in New York, specialising in dog photography. You can read more about her and find out where you can purchase her books and other merchandise, on her website.

I’d like to share with you Sophie’s brilliant idea to de-stigmatize the public’s opinion of Pit Bull Terriers. Yes, they may have originally been bred for dog fighting in pits, but saying all Pit Bulls are aggressive and dangerous is generalising too much, like saying all Muslims are terrorists. You and I know it’s simply not true. A few rotten apples should not spoil the entire apple cart. ALL dogs can be aggressive, especially when they feel threatened, but that does not mean it’s in their nature to be aggressive all the time. People can be like that too, when the adrenaline kicks in and the victim decides to fight instead of flee.

Now, Sophie Gamand’s idea is to present the Pit Bull with a softer, gentler side than the gritty, masculine and gangster stereotype the media loves to portray them in. And what could be softer and gentler than flowers?

The series is called “Flower Power: Pit Bulls of the Revolution”. Sophie explains her concept here (excerpt taken from her website):

America euthanizes upward of 1,000,000 pit bulls every year. It’s a quiet massacre. Pit bulls make people uncomfortable. The country is faced with a major pit bull crisis. Around the world, pit bulls are equally victims of prejudices that associate them with ultra-violence and make them disposable dogs. Through my series Flower Power: Pit Bulls of the Revolution, I decided to photograph them with flower crowns, to infuse a softer energy into their imagery. I wish for this series to challenge the way we look at pit bulls, and ultimately the way we treat them. All the models from the series are shelter pit bulls who were waiting for adoption at the time of the photograph. Many of them still are. I have photographed about 150 dogs since the project started in the summer 2014 (check this link to view the complete series and who is still waiting for a home).

The series is inspired by Baroque and Rococo’s aesthetics, using the traditional codes of portraiture. The flowers symbolizes the ephemeral quality of life, reminding us that these creatures are fragile and precious.

Pit bulls are like any other breed of dogs: they need proper care, training and socialization. Unfortunately, because of their bad image, they have the false reputation of being more dangerous than other dogs, hence attracting irresponsible primary owners who are looking for a “scary dog”. Pit bulls’ downfall is to be exactly the way we created them: strong and loyal. With this series, I wonder if art is a tool powerful enough it can change pit bulls’ fate.

Many of the dogs Sophie used in her Flower Power series are still waiting for their furever home, please do spare a thought for them if you’re considering adopting a dog. I’m sure you’d have seen heartwarming online videos showing how gentle and loving Pit Bulls are around children and other animals, they are not called the “Nanny Dog” without reason.

For those not inclined to go clicking on links but who would rather see everything on the one page, here are some of Sophie’s Flower Power dogs, courtesy of Sophie’s website:

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How can you resist those sweet beguiling faces? I’m naturally biased, as I have a Pit Bull myself, and I just can’t get enough of her adorableness. My Shelagh amazes me every single day, and I’ve sworn to only have Pit Bulls from now on. They really are the best.

If you would like to purchase Sophie’s 2016 calendar of the Flower Power series, it’s available here.

I know what My 2016 calender’s going to be! (Well, actually, I’m going to have 2 calendars, the other one being the one produced by the Dogs’ Refuge where I’m a volunteer, because among others it features Django, the dog I wrote about in a previous post).

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