It’s the look on their face right before you clip on their leash; the excitement they exude when they start to lunge at a squirrel; their big eyes once a treat is close enough to grab; the pout they put on when you stop petting them. Your four-legged sidekick is full of personality, but those expressive moments are rarely captured in pet portraiture. Berlin-based photographer Sophie Zimmermann, however, is up to the task. Her work features intimate images of dogs, cats, and other small animals, showing off their particularly personal side.
The distinctive mien each animal possesses is its “pure beauty” in Zimmermann’s eyes. “The owners should recognise their pet and its character in my photographs,” she says. There is a human-like quality to her portraits, intentional in her editing, posing, and background choices. She catches emotions that are instantly recognisable—bashful, playful, proud, silly—resulting in shots that fit perfectly among family photos hanging on the wall.
Just like with people, each pet is different. Some animals gaze into the camera with eyes bright and awake, some sleepily and heavily lidded. “I always have to work with what they offer. This varies a lot depending on the species and characters. I contribute my ideas, of course, but sometimes the animal planned something different—and I’m happily in for it. It usually gives better results than enforcing what was planned,” Zimmermann says.
“I really like what I call the ‘small moments in between,’” she says. “Movements and expressions that dogs, and mammals in general, show while they are not in a regular pose that you see them most of the time they are photographed. Snapshots like this, if of good quality, often characterize an individual in a better, more personal way.”
A pet parent herself to nine-year-old dog Mia, Zimmermann is clued into how animals interact with us and what they mean to their owners. “[Mia] taught me expressions and looks I have never seen before in a dog’s face. Now that she’s a senior dog, I have to listen carefully to know how she’s doing,” she says. When she was training to be a photographer they were forced to spend time apart, which only increased her perception of the significance candid photographs can hold. “They become more and more valuable over time, capturing memories that would otherwise fade.”
We are thrilled to introduce Dog-Friendly, a collection of city guides for dog-loving people, created together with our long-time contributor, photographer Winnie Au, and fellow enthusiasts, indie publisher Hoxton Mini Press. Available for purchase here.
August 25, 2021
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