Why Poodles and Labradoodles make the best of friends

People say never work with animals, well I’m all out of excuses this time around. There’s a first time for everything I suppose, remarkably the first actual animal to make it into the At Home With The Furries project. The others are not really animals I’m afraid, they’re to give you the dry version: anthropomorphised animal characters. That’s the furry version of dry i.e not really dull and academic at all.

All these shoots have happened organically, I go to a meeting and have a camera in hand. The furries love to be photographed, I ask them about their suits, I give them compliments, how could I not. The camera is a useful tool to have, it gives me an excuse to ask people questions.

At the last Christmas meeting, I met a poodle called Edward Fuzzypaws. We got on well, he had heard of my project. I slipped him a business card and a few days later received a lovely email from him asking if I’d be interested in photographing him for the project at his home in Richmond.

Well two weeks ago, I knocked on the door of a house at the end of a tree lined drive and was welcomed by the most beautiful looking dog I’ve seen in quite some time.

At Home With The Furries

His name is Teddy and he is a two year old Labradoodle. He even made me a cup of tea, no wait that was the poodle that made me a stonking cup of builders!

Edward’s friend came along: Sticks The Fox to help and what a help he was, he became my first assistant and on-set photographer!

Two ideas per character tends to be the format of these shoots and I wanted these two to be a couple of greyhounds. As soon as I met Teddy, the family pet I knew he would play a major part in the success of these images. Did I have an animal wrangler though? Er no. Was Teddy a primadonna? I’ve never met a softer dog and to photograph him, well a dream!

I asked Edward about his character, he explained: “Edward Fuzzypaws is a fun character, all about bringing joy and smiles, never worrying or feeling stressed. He can screw up and it’s all just games – I guess he’s a personification of myself. My career means that I live to tell stories every day, whether through writing, painting, animating, and dressing as him is no different. He likes to play, quite simply, he lives to bring happiness. I designed him as a child at heart in the same way a dog can come bounding in and wag its tail without a care in the world”

Picture by Sticks The Fox

Photograph by Sticks The Fox

“I found poodles are unusual in the furry scene, perhaps because of their style or character being a bit fancy, but they have always been dear to me. Prior to wanting to be an animator when I was a child, I wanted to be a poodle groomer. I met a standard poodle named Edward and it left an impression on me, hence the name (it’s also my late grandfather’s name). And I have always dressed up, even when I was young. Imagination is important to me, and expressing oneself as well. Edward isn’t escapism, he’s the opposite – he’s an outward demonstration of my passion for animals, art and entertainment.”

Edward Fuzzypaws, a poodle and Teddy, a labradoodle in their drawing room

Edward Fuzzypaws, a poodle and Teddy, a labradoodle in their drawing room

“I got into the furry scene kind of naturally. I hadn’t heard of it until I was much older, but I have been drawing my whole life, very often drawing anthropomorphised animals, especially where I work. Animation has so much of it, animals are everywhere in our world and in our childhood. When I found out there was a world of people dressing up and celebrating this, I was automatically hooked – I had gained an interest not just in costumes, but as I got older, an interest in how they are made. To me, it’s not about saying “why?” it’s about saying “why not?”

Sometimes an idea is all very well, research and preparation play an essential role in whether a photo is a success or a failure but sometimes, just sometimes regardless of an idea, the situation develops in a way you don’t expect and the picture just appears, as if by magic. Of course the prep work has led you to that place, but to let the image develop in front of you is as wonderful as the first time you drop a black and white print in the developing tray.

Photograph by Sticks The Fox

I always shoot with tucked in trousers…Photograph by Sticks The Fox

Edward brushing his dog’s coat down, a simple premise. As they sat together on the wooden decking bathed in dappled sunlight, Edward held Teddy’s head with one hand and Teddy caught his look. There was definitely something special there but it was only later, when editing the images my attention kept coming back to this one image. The project as a whole is about capturing something real, in admittedly unreal situations, but a moment of genuine emotion between furry friends, well that’s worth holding onto.

Edward Fuzzypaws and Teddy share a moment in their garden, Richmond, London

Edward Fuzzypaws and Teddy share a moment in their garden, Richmond, London

Thanks to: Edward Fuzzypaws, Sticks The Fox and of course, Teddy.

To see more images from At Home With The Furries, have a look on my website

Who are the furries anyway?

To order limited edition prints from At Home With The Furries, contact me here

 

 

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King of the Dishes-Stuart Martin-Traverse 50

Last Friday, I met up with Stuart Martin, he’s a stage actor with the National Theatre of Scotland and a writer of numerous dramas, including his latest play: Dream On.

This shoot was a collaboration between me and Stuart and the finished image will be exhibited at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh on the 21st September, as part of their group show, Traverse 50 in association with Writer Pictures.

Stuart had recently come back from San Francisco, where he had been on tour with the National Theatre of Scotland performing in a play for two months, oh the glitz and the glamour.

Immediately I set him to task washing up, I mean honestly San Francisco to South East London is a good trade in my book. The least you can do is don the marigolds and get busy.

We were shooting at my favourite coffee shop, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers in Hither Green, I exhibited my landscape series: Perceived Patterns there last year.

Asked earlier in the process, Stuart revealed that he likes to write kitchen sink dramas, which is oddly convenient. Not like I planned this at all.

Stuart Martin, actor and writer of Kitchen Sink Dramas

Check out those cakes, they were rather good

I'm sure he's thinking  how on earth I managed to drag him across London for this one-time exclusive gig doing the dishes in a coffee shop

I’m sure he’s thinking how on earth I managed to drag him across London for this one-time exclusive gig doing the dishes in a coffee shop

Links:

Tom Broadbent

Stuart Martin

Traverse Theatre

Writer Pictures

Perceived Patterns: My photographic exhibition in London

I visit places, I take pictures. End of story or so it seems. Perceived Patterns is an exhibition of photography in which I’m drawn to little details; lines in the sand or water on a windscreen. Some are a metaphor for an emotional state; Flowers, Berlin signalled the end of a relationship ( as I found out later!) and Saying Goodbye, 2002 is a celebration of a friend’s life.

I like nothing more than making interesting images out of seemingly ordinary situations, End Of The Day, We Have Crabs, Free Wine Tasting, 2010 were all photographed in Tarpon Springs, a Floridian seaside town which was enduring the coldest January they had seen for some time.

Other images were made on assignment for magazines: Plane View, 2000 is from a feature on a plane hijacking at Stanstead Airport.

All the work is for sale and the prices are very affordable, the pictures are sold ready to hang on your wall. They are all available in the following finishes: On Aluminium, Polished Acrylic, Canvas Prints and Framed as well. Prices start at £75.

Or if you prefer, you can purchase photographic prints. Prices start at £30.

All works are signed.

The exhibition is at a cool cafe called You Don’t Bring Me Flowers (which also happens to be a florist too) right next to Hither Green rail station. http://www.youdontbringmeflowers.co.uk/

There are a limited number of postcards available for £1.00 each.

The exhibition starts on Friday the 21st September for six weeks, why not pop down and see it. The cafe does sensational coffee and cake.

This is my first solo show in London, I hope you enjoy the show as much as I’ve enjoyed putting it together.

Follow me on twitter for updates here: @broadbentius #perceivedpatterns

Here are some of the photographs from Perceived Patterns, all available to purchase at very reasonable prices.

Flowers, Berlin, 2002

After The Storm, 2003

End Of The Day, 2010

Plane View, 2000

Free Wine Tasting, 2010

Saying Goodbye, 2002