At age 13, Sophie Gamand was attacked by a large, black Briard–a dominant herding dog that can reach nearly 100 pounds. “It felt like I was being eaten alive by a bear,” she says. In the years since, she has volunteered her photographic services to animal shelters, and worked with canines regularly, so she could shake her fear of big dogs. Pit bulls, in particular, made her nervous–even though they seemed so sweet when she’d meet them.
So she turned her camera on her fears (and the pits), donning them in blossoms and capturing their portraits through a fairy tale lens in a photo series she called Flower Power.
“I realized that the way pit bulls are portrayed, even by photographers trying to make a difference, is always very harsh. The imagery associated with pit bulls is gritty, somber, highly contrasted, very urban. People want to portray them like badasses,” Gamand tells Co.Design. “I felt that, in a way, it participated in feeding the myth that all pit bulls are violent, gangsters, or dormant psychopaths. I decided to portray them as sweet as I could. They are powerful dogs, there is no denying that. But power does not necessarily mean violence.”
Gamand’s goal was to make the dogs look “strong and firm, but soft and loving” at the same time. So she framed them in austere portrait poses, but topped their heads with hand-made flower wreaths. Then in Photoshop, she added layers of color and texture to create the joyous, dreamy aesthetic–which was apparently inspired by glitter, vintage photographs, and (this factoid is particularly fantastic) My Little Pony.
A side effect to Gamand’s work: She’s received several inquiries about adopting the dogs she has photographed (though many still need homes).
You can purchase Flower Power prints through Gamand’s site with the proceeds going to participating shelters. Additionally, a calendar is on the way.