In October 2013, I attended my first dog show in twenty years.
As a child, I would accompany my parents (who are both dog show judges, today) during the winter months, as they would travel to and compete their dog at various shows around the country. As I grew older I stopped going to dog shows altogether.
A few years ago, I started scanning old negatives and photographs of my family from the 1970’s and 1980’s. Amongst the usual vernacular imagery found in most Indian family photographs from this period, I found these photographs (sometimes with me in them) of my parents at these dog shows. They were great and I knew I had something meaningful and unique to my family. I started putting and editing these photographs with the aim of making a private family album.
Looking at all those old photographs got me curious. Did the dog shows still look and feel the same? Luckily this was right at the start of the dog show season in 2013 and I went to my first show in Bareilly in North India.
What I found was this huge subculture of passionate dog breeders and individual owners who loved dogs and competing them. Many of them are very wealthy and this is a hobby and for some others it’s a means to a livelihood.
With a very long and rich history, stretching back all the way back to 1896 under the English and later the Indian aristocracy, dog shows in India have an almost cult appeal amongst breeders and participants where the top ranked dogs, their handlers and owners are treated like celebrities. It was natural for me to assume the role of a paparazzo and make photographs within that “genre”.
I am trying to show an alternative and lighter side to India, the people here and their passions and aspirations.
All images courtesy of Karan Vaid
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