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Sophie Gamand

How Sophie Gamand and #PitbullFlowerPower Are Changing Stereotypes About Dogs

Photographer Sophie Gamand wasn’t always comfortable around pit bulls. The award-winning artist and animal activist started photographing dogs in 2010 in an attempt to better understand humans, but despite the success of her Wet Dog series (for which Gamand photographed 120 dogs at bath time, the results of which have been compiled into a book), she still felt uneasy about pit bulls.

aphroditeLLSophie Gamand
“I started the project in the summer 2014,” she remarks, “to confront myself to pit bulls because I felt uneasy around them. I also wanted to see if Art was powerful enough to change the way we view pit bulls, and therefore, the way we treat them”.

The results of her next photo series, Flower Power, Pitbulls of the Revolution, would reflect this attempt to reconcile docility and the stereotype that so often surrounds pit bulls. For the project, Gamand photographed 150 pit bulls wearing flower crowns– symbols of ease and beauty– in an attempt to soften their image.

remiLLSophie Gamand
“America euthanizes between 800,000 and 1,000,000 pit bulls every year,” says Gamand, who sells calendars and tote bags to fund the project. “Whether you like these dogs or not, we need to address this crisis and stop this quiet massacre. The series is aimed at softening their images, not just to show an unexpected version of pit bulls, but to remind people of the fragility of their lives, and the heartbreaking fate they know.”

thelmaLLSophie Gamand
All of the dog models that Gamand uses in her photos are pit bulls from shelters who are waiting for adoption. “Most of my models have found homes, sometimes thanks to their Flower portrait,” she says. (Editor’s Note: Many of the dogs in the gallery below still live in shelters. Find more info about which ones are looking for homes here.)

So far Gamand has created 150 portraits, most of which are collected on her wildly popular Instagram, @SophieGamand, where she hopes the intrigue surrounding her unique combination of flowers and dogs will continue to fuel the public’s interest in the project and the ideas it represents. “Under the hashtag #PitBullFlowerPower,” she says, “the series became more than just an art project: it became a movement.”

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