Best of breeds — Four&Sons

Best of breeds

Sipke Visser’s new book lifts the lid on the fascinating world of dog shows.


Best of breeds

Sipke Visser’s appreciation for photography runs deep, as does his affinity with people and the seemingly never-ending spectrum of human emotion.

The Dutch-bred London-based photographer has been working his lens ever since he completed a basic dark room course some ten years ago, and his curiosity for the world around him and penchant for documenting it is yet to wane. His photography style is completely natural and free from manipulation, so each final image is a raw look at real life. Every picture is more than just the subject, but a glimpse at its story and an appreciation for the tangible end product itself.

He says, “Just looking at a beautiful image can make me happy, not just because of what can be seen in the image, but the actual photo. The grain in the image, the way it was lit, and the fact that what you’re looking at is something that actually happened, at a moment in time when some man or woman pressed the shutter.”

His photographic tome Return to Sender was a celebrated Visser work that showcases these interests, and celebrates all things a little left-of-centre. To begin with, he sent a handwritten letter and a photograph to strangers at random requesting a response, simply because he was intrigued by what he’d get back. The resulting book documented all his weird and wonderful responses-from the sweet and sincere to the downright disgruntled-and was a fascinating insight into the human psyche.

His latest Kickstarter-funded project Doggies, documenting the bond between dogs and their owners at London dog shows, is no different.

Visser is an avid animal lover, and was always curious to attend a dog show. Armed with his camera, he and a friend attended Discover Dogs, an annual event (for they really are EVENTS) for talented pooches and their eager owners, that well and truly piqued his interest and had him returning to three of the next four occasions.  While he enjoyed watching the dogs perform, it was their interaction with their human companions that really fascinated him, as well as the human characteristics the dogs themselves adopted.

He says “(My images) usually involve people. Or in this case dogs, but that’s probably because they remind me of people. I think one can only enjoy an image because one recognises something in there which in some way relates to oneself. If the image is of a lonely looking dog I might like it because I can feel what the dog might be feeling, so I relate to it. Humans are an interesting and often funny species. I like seeing how they love the dogs, how they cuddle them and talk to them. And I like the dogs because it’s nice to see how they respond to the people.”

The finished product is an impressive feat and one that captures dog shows in all their glory. Not just the weird and wonderful we have come to associate with “crazy” pet owners, but a thoughtful, more emotional side that speaks volumes of the special relationships between man and his best friend.

All images courtesy of Sipke Visser




A heartfelt thank you to all the photographers, artists, illustrators, and writers who trusted us, dived in, and brought us delight, grace, excitement, courage, wilderness, and wonder over the last five years. Their work not only reflects the bonds we share with our animal companions, it also celebrates their spirit.

None of this would be possible without our four-legged counterparts who sprinkle magic dust time and time again, and our readers, who embraced this kooky idea, rallied around us, and made this world theirs too. With friends like these, who needs nine lives?

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