I was stunned when I first saw this picture, the way she looked at me, even though she wasn’t really facing me; and the mixed feelings expressed in her eyes and on her face…
It’s not that she’s pretty or chic, or that I’m a pet lover which I am not…yet. It’s this human expression that draws me in and makes us feel closer.
It’s neither a photo series about dog fashion or one about cute puppets. Something deep down inside these creatures connects with us but is basically hidden, distracted by the noisy background, and this picture captured it on a special occasion.
It’s not in a fashion show, but a bath time. Sophie originally planned to photograph the work of a dog groomer in a grooming parlor. When the groomer started bathing the dogs, she knew that she had something. This is an unnatural situation for a dog; however, their reaction is the most natural and real, and surprisingly similar to ours.
This photo series is called “Wet Dog” and it has won the Portraiture category of the Sony World Photography Awards 2014.
Why She Succeeded
You can dress up your pets and shoot, but you can’t capture their true nature. Sophie didn’t just pick or invent a unique niche “dog portrait”, but also hit viewers with something I call “uncategorized” as she mentions that her photos “did not belong in any category”, since they’re so unique that they cannot be categorized or copied.
Why New York
It’s a puzzle why Sophie Gamand’s success has happened in New York as Brandon Stanton’s has. Sophie explained a twin reason: New Yorkers are isolated and lonely, and dogs are their comfort. Sophie Gamand’s photos connect people to puppies as Brandon Stanton’s connect people to others who are passing them on the streets every day.
How She Succeeded
“It also reminded me of all the stray dogs I had bathed while helping the rescue group. Suddenly, everything came into place. – Sophie Gamand”
Sophie spent considerable time with dog rescue groups volunteering, contributing her photography expertise and developing awareness campaigns. This precious experience laid a foundation for her later success. She had spent so much time with dogs and she understands them so well that in return they gave her her greatest inspiration.
What’s more, the messages she wants to spread with her “Wet Dog” series reconcile with the awareness messages she did with the dog rescue groups.
The pictures are beautiful, but they’re not just for decoration. They’re telling us stories about dog-human relationship and make us ponder. Success never happens overnight without an accumulation of experience and errors.
Fountain of Ideas
The problem with some artists is that after one success they can never match it. The reason is that it’s so difficult to be unique again. However, Sophie Gamand surprised me again with her new series.
Some photographers will say that they can shoot perfect photos just like these; however, did they create the idea? No, the true artists are the people with original ideas.
A Profound Soul
Sophie attributed the viral success of her photography to two blogs that displayed her work. However, if she marketed the “Wet Dog” series through contacted press releases similar to those for her previous unsuccessful dog fashion project, she would have still succeeded this time even without help from the two blogs.
She uses her technical skills to shoot dogs when they are restless and soulfully captures their emotions at their vulnerable bathing moment. Her new soulful pictures are artistically drastically improved but the medium and technique are only tools. Sophie Gamand clearly has the profound soul needed to be a successful artist.
The time wasn’t right until now.