Four months into fostering Gora and with no takers in sight, Basque photographer Maider Sierra decided to snap a few pics to share with the shelter. Two weeks later Gora was settling into a permanent home. This was an aha moment for Sierra: “My brain flipped, and I became aware of the importance of the images, even when it comes to adoptions. It is all pure marketing. So why not take advantage of that situation, turn it around and try to help others through my work?”
This is exactly what Sierra has done for the past five years. Helping shelters and animal associations by photographing pups in need, she levels the playing field and shows dogs and people as equals. Self-describing her style “as dark but very emotional,” Sierra captures a dog’s sensibility through the gaze. “I love capturing their eyes. Those looks that do not always have to be directed at the camera and are capable of transmitting more feeling than those of many people.” And while the muted colour palette lends each photo a magnetic warmth, Sierra depicts more than a well-composed shot in her work, saying, “I enjoy portraying something that goes beyond what is aesthetically beautiful; emotionally, that millisecond in which a kiss, a hug, a caress is frozen. The fact that people want to have some photos with their dogs like that—I love that they recognise them as another member of the family.”
Under the moniker Mestizaa (inspired by the Spanish word for ‘mixed race’) Sierra wields her camera for personal commissions and animal welfare organisations, as well as her own content, starring her dogs Queen and Sugaar. She hopes to inspire others to give equal footing to our four-legged friends and fulfill another part of her mission: teaching brands and humans that you can do everything with a dog.
Have you ever imagined Amy Winehouse or Nick Cave as a Chihuahua, Neil Young as a Vizsla, or PJ Harvey as an Afghan hound? That’s exactly what San Francisco-based artist Michael Gillette has done through his unique illustration project, blending beloved, iconic music legends, both past and present, with their dog counterparts. Pack of Dogs, our first foray into book publishing, is a joyful title designed for music, pop culture and dog lovers alike.
August 25, 2020