The Wet Dog photography project does exactly what its name implies — it captures a bunch of dogs in the midst of enjoying a bath. The resulting portraits fall somewhere between endearingly freaky and straight-up funny, as the dogs pout and grin while their hair is tousled and twisted into all manner of otherworldly styles.
The lenswoman behind Wet Dog is Sophie Gamand, a French-born, New York-based photographer who has become something of a canine portrait expert. (Her website also contains a section offering tips for snapping pics of your own dog at home.)
With a Wet Dog book being planned for release next year, I called up Sophie and found out how she stumbled into the Wet Dog concept, talked about the problems of excessive water-shaking, and learned that she’ll be hosting an open casting call looking for the next batch of Wet Dogs very soon.
Dogster: When did the idea for Wet Dog come about?
Sophie: It kinda arrived when I was working on a photo shoot with a groomer [Ruben Santana] in September of 2013. I was photographing for a project I called Metamorphosis which is about grooming and the physical transformation of the doggies. During the process of the grooming, Ruben started bathing the dogs and that day I was open to photographing anything, so I started photographing the dogs in the tub. When I got home and looked at the photos I realized there was a series of wet dogs there. I shot the series on my website in one day.
Which dog was the first official Wet Dog?
I think it was the little black one, who was pretty subdued. This was a little female and she was very subdued.
Did the photo shoot get messy?
The problem is the dogs shake, so I had to cover my lens all the time and turn away from them quickly. You kinda learn how to sense when they’re going to shake. I guess the trick for Wet Dog was to try and get them to not shake too quickly, because when the water is dripping from their faces, that’s when the photos are the cutest and the most interesting. So we’d pour water on the dog and try and distract them from shaking.
How did most of the dogs react during the shoot?
Well, my favorite is the little white one with the mohawk — and he did not like it! He was trying to jump out of the tub and he was harder to photograph. Then there’s the little white one that looks like Einstein — he was a very jumpy one who tried to escape too! But then the alien-looking one was shaking a lot and I don’t think he minded so much. He’s a Pomeranian mix and he’s so cute and has this big smile, but on that photo he’s kinda horrible, you know?
It’s about editing and the images that attract me. I have a lot of different versions of each doggie, and those are the ones that spoke to me the most.
Were you looking for any particular breeds or personalities for the Wet Dog models?
Actually, so far I’ve photographed only small dogs like Malteses and little Poodles and Shih Tzus so I’m definitely looking for bigger dogs in the future. I’m going to try and organize a big casting call. I’ll be looking for bigger dogs and bigger breeds.
I also think I’d like for the doggies to have medium or long hair, but I’m also interested to see what’s gonna happen to short hair dogs with this project.
How do you think a short-haired Wet Dog would look?
Well at first, I was very interested in how the hair reacts to the water so I wanted long hair, but then after the first series was complete I realized that expression is really what makes it. So I think short-haired dogs might have great expressions. I don’t even need dogs that like to be bathed — actually if they hate it then it might work out better! — so what I’m really looking for is the expression on their faces.
You mentioned a casting call looking for new dogs for the series. When will that be?
It will be between April and July. I’ll put the details on my Facebook page, so that’s the best way for people to keep up with it. I was also thinking of having a big Wet Dog party this summer.
What would the Wet Dog party involve?
I’m not sure yet but I’m thinking outdoors, a lot of water, and a lot of doggies playing in the sun.
Do you have any tips if someone wants to attempt a Wet Dog-style photograph at home?
I guess the main thing is having somebody to help you — it’s definitely not a one-person job unless your dog is pretty chill in the bathtub. Ruben, the pet stylist, was the one who was handling the dogs during the shoot for me.
Finally, do you have any dogs yourself?
I don’t! I say I have too many dogs in my life to have a dog. I literally hang out with dogs all day for my work. And it’s New York — I wouldn’t want to have a dog here.
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About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world’s foremost expert on rappers’ cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it’s not quite what you think it is.