The truth of the internet is that it skews terribly towards cats. Today it does not. Here, Alix McAlpine interviews Will Robson-Scott and Ollie Grove about their new book In Dogs We Trust, which spans both sides of the Atlantic to look at the relationships between dogs and their owners.
Alix: I’ve been following you on instagram for a while so dogs as a subject matter doesn’t really surprise me since you post a fair amount of dog pics – did you always have dogs growing up, do you have one now or are you just a dog appreciator?
WRS: Me and Ollie both grew up with dogs, Rusty was my first family dog, a cairn terrier, he was highly excitable and now my parents have Milo, a miniature schnauzer , I’m not responsible enough to own one myself and living in nyc and travelling a lot isn’t a perfect marriage.I prefer dogs to humans.
How did you go about selecting your potential subjects?
WRS: With this sort of project theres a snow ball effect , one person leads to another. The interesting thing about shooting dogs is that people open there door to you and let their guard down. People are proud of their dog similarly to having a family photograph taken. People in the lime light are always a bit more weary of having there photograph taken in intimate situations, but having a canine involved breaks down that barrier
Was there a particular breed of dogs you saw most? Is there a breed-to-occupation or breed-to-region correlation?
WRS: There are definitely dogs that are more “in trend” , you come across a lot of french bulldog and pits/staffies . There is defiantly a trend of west coast bullie(pit bull) breeders, that is comparable to west coast car culture.
Ollie: Staffordshires are the dogs of the uk, loved by as many people as they are feared. Everyone knows of them and everyone has an opinion.
If we didn’t have the dangerous dogs act in the UK then i think we would have a much larger collection of pitbulls which are seen as a loving family dog in the US but as a loaded gun in the UK.
What’s the most extravagant owner behavior you saw? Any ridiculous dog treatment?
WRS: We shot an artist in London called David Harrison, his dogs name is ‘Mr Harrison,” Davids bedroom is like a boudoir from 100 years ago. Attack pit bull training is something to be seen, the dog is triggered by a word, any word and then basically won’t stoop attacking until its called off or gives itself a heart attack
Ollie: There was one dog which i’m convinced got involved in the bedroom of the owners but i’ll refrain from putting a name or breed to them
Some people might see this project as a departure from your previous published work but, it seems you’ve been working on it the whole while. What were some of the challenges or particularities of shifting between projects and making sure this didn’t fall through the cracks?
WRS: Me and Ollie are still actually shooting this project, the book being published was going to be the end of it, but its a project you can stop and start and its something we both enjoy, it makes sense to keep building on it. As far from it being a departure from other work i don’t think it is. It might seem a bit more subdued, but all my work is about people and how they interact with the world and this is very much about that.
Any tips for photographing dogs you could share?
WRS: Get the human in the shot to stay engaged with the camera and then get the dogs attention ,if the human is trying to help get its attention it never works out.
How many dog shits were you subjected to while shooting?
WRS: I don’t think we had many issues with dog shits to be honest.