Golden Retrievers, Siberian Huskies, and Afghan Hounds: these are indisputably beautiful dogs. But the somewhat alien Mexican Xoloitzcuintli or the scrawny Chinese Crested? They don’t generally win beauty contests. This bothered photographer Sophie Gamand, who is known for her creative and whimsical canine portraits. “Some people mock them or are disgusted,” she says of hairless dogs. So Gamand brought both of these breeds into her studio to see what hidden attributes her lens might uncover. The result is Prophecy, a photo series in which hairless dogs take on an air of the mystical.
“I thought Zuko looked like a buddha, a god, a shaman. He looked like he knew some truth,” Gamand says of her very first subject. (Zuko is the dog with closed eyes.) Once Gamand allowed herself to be “transported” by Zuko’s unusual beauty, she realized that most hairless dogs had the majesty of “wise old men.”
Gamand took the photos by placing her camera right up to the dogs’ faces.
“This is a difficult exercise for any dog, especially when they don’t know me, but it has proven extremely difficult in the case of hairless dogs,” she says. “Chinese Crested are so skittish and shy! And Xolos are so suspicious and strong-willed.” There was bribery involved in getting the dogs to pose. Gamand didn’t get very far with typical doggy treats, but lettuce and green beans proved unexpectedly effective.
After the shoots she selected photos for their emotional depth. Some of the sites covering Prophecy have described the series as comical or humorous, but Gamand doesn’t agree. “I did not try to make people laugh with these images,” she says. “They make me smile and giggle sometimes, but overall I think these portraits are deep and emotional.”JM