Winnie Au is known for artfully composed lifestyle, interior, and portrait photography, but this project took her on a slightly different track. The mix of sharp styling and art direction puts a joyful spin on a ‘shameful’ accessory.
There’s a reason why we treat our dogs like family members or roommates (who don’t pay rent and shed everywhere!). Even though dogs can’t talk, they definitely communicate and form relationships, and a lot of us dog owners spend more time with our dogs than we do with our own relatives. I’ve always wanted to create images that celebrate our dogs as family members. From a visual standpoint, they are just amazing subjects. I love the variety of fur tones and shapes and really enjoy how different one dog can look from another; it is always a surprise. Photographing dogs makes me happy. I think dogs spread joy. Sure, it can be challenging to work with a subject who doesn’t listen and runs away from you, but at the end of the day I have a lot of fun and so does everyone else around us. It’s the best feeling.
Once, I owned three different corgi mugs, one corgi umbrella, one corgi painting, and one corgi button, and I was considering a subscription to The Corgi Cryer (the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club’s award-winning magazine, now sadly out of print). Yeah, I think that’s when I crossed over to the other side.
Secrets of success
Don’t have too many people or distractions around. Find yourself a controlled environment. Try to photograph the dog without treats first. If you’re lucky and patient, you will be able to get the dog to show you their normal side versus their ‘I really want/need that treat’ face.
I’ve learned that I can make a high-pitched dolphin noise (I think it’s a dolphin? I realise I have no idea what dolphins really sound like) with my voice to get a dog’s attention and it seems to work pretty well. It’s convenient to not have to carry around a squeaky toy, and it’s great for getting dogs to look at the camera! It also seems to freak out my human subjects, which is always a fun surprise.
For me, the relationship of dog and human is way deeper than just owner and pet. I feel like our dogs are our spirit animals and friends. I don’t just feed and walk Clementine—we hang out. The time my husband and I spend with her makes for some of the happiest moments. She enhances our life. And maybe it’s just the point of view that humans want to have, but I feel like the relationship we have with her really feels reciprocal. I think, with other animals, you’re not always sure if they are happier living with you or not. But with my dog, I feel she’ll always want to return home to us (or to the next person who owns a lot of string cheese). Whatever it is, she makes us feel like she is enjoying life with us as much as we are enjoying life with her.
All images courtesy of Winnie Au
Article published at Four&Sons, Issue Ten.
To buy a copy, click here
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 celebration of pup and pop culture for music and dog lovers alike.
August 25, 2020