The best limelight hairless dogs can afford is star in the “World’s Ugliest Pet Contest”, but one photographer wants to change that perception of the much-maligned pooches. In her series “Prophecy”, Sophie Gamand captures the aura and charm of the Chinese Crested and the Xoloitzcuintli (or Mexican hairless dog) breeds.
Why did you decide to photograph hairless dogs?
I was always intrigued by hairless dogs, their unique beauty. Some people go crazy for them! Other people are scared or disgusted by their hairless nature. I felt sad for these dogs who always win the world’s ugliest dog contest. I wanted to see if I could capture their peculiar beauty with photography, without making fun of them. I wanted them to look dignified, glorious.
Why name your series “Prophecy”?
As soon as I started the project, I realized I had to embrace their strange beauty completely. To me, they are as beautiful as wise old men, shamans, prophets. There is something otherworldly about them. I felt their faces wanted to communicate something deeper.
Did you enjoy working with these dogs? Was it difficult?
Although I have extensive experience working with dogs, even shelter dogs and stray dogs, I have to admit hairless dogs were by far the most challenging models I have had. So of course I enjoyed it! The Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican hairless dogs) is so suspicious and strong-willed.
What kind of message do you want to spread with this series?
I guess the overall message with my work is always the same, series after series: try and look beyond your first impression. You think these dogs are funny-looking or ugly? Think about the fact that we have created them that way. What does it say about us? My work is like the sad clown: first you laugh, then your heart gets pinched by the harsh reality.