In Love is the Colour Australian photographer Linda Warlond couples her inherent love of animals with her passion for photography. The black-and-white series was created for Pets in the Park, the national charity she co-founded, which holds monthly pop-up clinics throughout the country. “My aim was to produce strong and sympathetic images that would signify the human-animal bond,” she explains, “and raise awareness of those with companion animals experiencing homelessness in Australia.” Each portrait features a homeless human and his hound, capturing the tenderness, connection and love between the two. The unconditional support canines can bestow on their humans is priceless, but it comes at a significant financial cost. “The least we can do is ensure they have the healthcare they deserve” Warlond says. We talked about gratitude, emotional rewards and sharing meals.
How does your background as a veterinary nurse influence your photography?
When my two biggest passions (animals and photography) collide there was no excuse for not spending time on this important personal project. In my experience as a vet nurse I’ve witnessed the joy, love, connection and—sadly—the heartbreak that comes with having an animal companion.
Tell us a bit about the personal impact of working on Love is the Colour.
Meeting the people behind the exterior has been a pleasure and a privilege; it’s often very moving. Everyone has a story to tell. I found that many of these lives are much more extreme in both their simplicity and complexity. Interacting with these fascinating faces of our city and their animal companions is very close to my heart.
Did you go into the project with any preconceived ideas?
Not really. I set up a small pop-up studio and had been given a very limited time to use the space, so the sessions were very short. I expected some degree of difficulty in capturing the essence of their relationships with this time restriction. To my surprise everyone was so willing to share their experience and tell me stories about their companion. And they felt very comfortable physically expressing the love they have for them too. It was as though it gave them an opportunity to publicly express their gratitude to their truest friend.
What surprised you the most about these relationships?
The respect for their companion animal and understanding of their needs and individual personalities was a real surprise. I have heard too many times someone say, “Why do they even have a dog if they don’t have a home?” Well, after working on this series there is no doubt in my mind if I were a dog the idea of spending my days and nights with my human sure sounds better than hanging out at home, in many cases for very long hours alone, with very little if not nothing to do. Sharing a meal with their companion dog or even going without food themselves is not uncommon, to make sure they don’t go without. Love, and motivation! That’s what I kept hearing during these sessions.
Is there any particular story that specially touched you?
Stevo with Little Brown Cow (AKA Brownie or Magic Millions), pictured here first. What a little champ! Still makes me teary when I see this image. Stevo told me, “He saved my life and made it worth living. I’m responsible for a dog, so I can’t die. He’s my world, my best mate.“
And the most gratifying outcome?
Taking these images is was my way of helping to make the sometimes-invisible people in our community more visible. Contributing toward breaking down judgemental attitudes on who should or should not have a companion animal in their lives is something I have found emotionally very rewarding.
All images courtesy of Linda Warlond
For more information or to donate to Pets in the Park, visit petsinthepark.org.au
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?
February 5, 2019