Belgian-Shepherd-profile

Side by side

Side by side


I have always been fascinated by profile shots of animals. Whether they be cats or dogs, or horses, this type of portrait photography has always captured my attention. The profile shot lends itself to a different kind of contemplation. There is no returned gaze – instead we are able to focus on the contours of the animal, the shape of the nose and the head, the expressions on their faces, all of which reveal a story, a history of each animal or breed. We are often able to tell the breed of a dog especially, by its silhouetted form. The structure of the face, neck and nose in their myriad differences (or similarities) becomes more apparent when we see a series of images side by side. Human intervention is fully on display here: the preferences that were selected prior to and after, in conforming to breed standards set by Kennel Clubs, and their evolution over time. The dark side to this evolution are those breeds whose form has been pushed so far as to cause all sorts of health or temperament problems: where appearance is preferred over the health and wellbeing of these animals. If we truly value relationships with our canine and feline companions, we will stand with them, side by side, and treat with them on every level, with the respect and love they deserve. After all, isn’t this the gift their companionship has given us?

Belgian Shepherd Groenendael

Mixed breed dog

Tabby cat

BlackStandardPoodle

Tri colour Rough Collie

Belgian Shepherd X

Belgian Tervuren

Abyssinian cat

Italian Greyhound

Tabby cat

Belgian Laekenois

Boston Terrier

Spoodle

Airedale Terrier


Half-face-portrait-of-Belgian-Shepherd-

Less is more

Less is more


I began this series of half face portraits back in 2010, with my own dog WolfCub, a Belgian Shepherd.  Entitled Mr Wolf (Cub), the first image you see, on a bold red background, with his ‘wolfish’ smile, immediately creates associations with the folk tale ‘Little Red Riding Hood’. Emotional responses to this image from viewers have ranged from humorous, and powerful, to a feeling of threat. The half face portrait is immediately interesting because of it’s focus on the eye, by what is revealed and concealed. It creates a different mood. In a way, less is more – the gaze more direct, confronting. What were these animals feeling? What are the stories behind their expressions? What of our own contexts do we project on to them? Image number 7 shows a beautiful Rhodesian Ridgeback X, shortly before her death. Of course sharing that information changes how we look at her. With their direct eye contact, the dogs and cats portrayed here show a range of moods and expressions. And in gazing so intently back at the viewer, it seems a question about the nature of the relationship between human and animal is also being asked of us.

Mr-Wolf(Cub)

Elle the Belgian Shepherd

Nelson

Bull Arab X

Gina-the-Abyssinian-cat

Charlie the Standard Poodle

Elsa

Kenny the British Shorthair

Henry the Cocker Spaniel

WolfCub with pink tongue

Bella the Aussie Shepherd

Mastiff dog

Guido the Australian Cattle Dog

King-Charles-Cavalier

Archie the Italian Greyhound