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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Bhavvels Bunny-At Home With The Furries

I’ve got to know Bhav over the last few years of this project. I always find him sketching in a corner of a furry meet, usually surrounded by other artists. He’s a lovely chap and over the course of the last few years, he’s constructed his own suit. A furry called Aggie, (the disco gryffon eating breakfast from the series) once said to me that furry characters sometimes reflect the true identity of the person. “Bhav is a rabbit, his personality, his traits. I know he’s a rabbit even before he’s put the suit on”

Sometimes I explain what this project is about to people and they simply can’t believe that furries exist and that they’ve never heard of it. It happened the other week at a party, the pictures only start the process of understanding what this subculture is about.

Anyhow, back to Bhavvels and his bunny ways. Perhaps the only blue rabbit in Barking, I should add only the second furry I’ve photographed in London. We had been talking for a few years about a shoot at his house and he’d been putting me off, trying to move locations elsewhere. Which I understand of course, not everyone is keen on the idea of a photographer rocking up and doing some pictures. Finally though he warmed to the idea.

As with all the pictures in the project, the set-ups are something we’ve discussed beforehand. They should reflect the personality of the furry, but equally the personality of the person inside the suit. The two are interconnected in a very unique way, unlike in fact than any other form of cosplay I am aware of ( I’m prepared to be proven wrong of course)

It is in fact a collaboration, a trust between me and the furry. That relationship and the importance of maintaining that bond may go some way to explain how protective I am of the project and the furries themselves. For example, I welcome exposure for the project so long as it is done in the right way. The Sunday Times, Wired Italia, 360 Magazine and FeatureShoot did a marvellous job.

Here’s two of my favourites from this session, one in his garden which came out very well

Bhavvels Bunny, doing a spot of gardening

Bhavvels Bunny, doing a spot of gardening

The second, capturing Bhav’s artistic side.

At Home With The Furries

Bhavvels Bunny, drawing in his front room

To see more images from the project, have a look here

If you’re a furry based in the UK and you’d like to be photographed for the project, drop me a line here

Saethwr, the red dragon chopping leeks, from Cardiff has been selected for the Photofusion Salon exhibition and will be on show from December 12th to January 2015 at the Photofusion Gallery. I’m offering limited edition prints of this image for a very special price during the exhibition, more details here

At Home With The Furries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marshall the dog and Branston the horse-At Home With The Furries

Marshall is a border collie who contacted me earlier this summer ( yes, I’m hanging onto the remains of the best summer we’ve had in years..!). He lives in Woking and promised me a cup of tea and a sandwich. Which as anyone knows is enough to get me on a train to just about anywhere.

He has two suits: Marshall, a border collie and he also plays as a horse, under Branston. What I liked about Marshall is that he had seen the project and really wanted to be part of it, which is always nice.

There’s something quite special about working with the furries, once you have the trust, you’re golden. Soon as I arrived we had a cup of tea and chatted for a while about furries, suiting, mutual friends and photography.

After all this time of doing shoots with furries, it always surprises me how much of a transition it can be once the suit goes on and the character comes out. Marshall is to be fair a bit daft and knows it. He likes mucking about and being a bit silly. Which is fine, being silly is good in my book. There should be more of it as far as I’m concerned.

In keeping with the theme, here’s a very silly video. Eight seconds of master film-making!

Marshall’s main hobbies are motor racing, what have you never seen a dog chasing a car? You haven’t lived my friend.

At Home With The Furries

Hobbies include a slight obsession with motor racing

We had carrot soup for lunch which was very pleasant. Come to think of it, we had carrot juice as well, now if I were a betting man I’d be thinking there’s a connection here.

Now for the mane event ( I'm sorry!)

Now for the mane event ( I’m sorry!)

Say hello to Branston, a particularly impressive horse. The first equine I’ve photographed and hopefully not the last! Blacksnip, we’re neigh-ly there! ( This has to stop!)

Fun furry fact: if you meet a gryphon or a bird of some kind, they might be described as a ‘feathery’ a dragon, insect or snake could be a ‘scaly’ and horses are ‘hoofers’ ( well maybe, certainly not ‘bronies’ that’s something else entirely)

To see more images from At Home With The Furries, have a look here

To read more about the project and how it came about, have a gander (no geese…yet) here

If you’re a furry with an awesome suit and you’d like to take part, why not get in touch via  email & twitter it would be great to hear from you.

 

Fangorn and then some

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Fangorn and then some

Recently I updated my main site with this image, recently shot in Wales of Fangorn, the tiger plus a few of my key portraits as well. It’s the first time in the furry series that two fandoms have crossed paths. A furry recently joked “What do furries got that Trekkies don’t?” — A fandom that wasn’t handed to them by Hollywood, for one” Well Jedi’s here but same sentiment.

At Home With The Furries

At Home With The Furries

Twinkie and Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a sea otter and sheep at home

This is a photographic project I’ve been working on for a few years.The furries are people that meet up, online and in person and they’ll talk and chat and have fun together. Some of them go on walks around St.Paul’s cathedral and over the Millennium bridge. You’re thinking but so what lots of people do that, what makes these guys so special?

Well if I were to say they do all that in animal costumes ( fursuits), that would pique your interest a little bit wouldn’t it?

But equally you don’t have to wear a furry suit to be a furry, confused? I thought you might be.

Throughout the year furries dress up in costume or fur-suit inspired by anthropomorphic characters from cartoons, comic strips, myths and videogames. The people inside the suits are by day computer programmers, engineers, mortgage brokers, lecturers even fursuit makers. Most furries have an affinity with animals but some also like to role-play or fursuit for fun. Over the course of a few years, I gained the trust of the furries in the UK and some of their members allowed me to visit them at home, these photographs were taken all over the country.

The first rule of being a furry is to never ever reveal your identity, your non-furry self. So if you see any furries roaming around at a furry meeting or convention ( outside of the designated fursuiters lounge) in suit but carrying their heads, they are not furries. Maybe a mascot on a tea break or something..;-)

Moon, a deer in her local woods in Sheffield

Moon, a deer in her local woods in Sheffield

I wanted to find a way to show more of their personal lives without breaking the first rule of being a furry. So At Home With The Furries was born.

Zuki, a Gargoyle playing a table-top roleplay game.  Zuki lives in Milton Keynes and works in IT. Zuki owns a few suits, the gargoyle is just one of them.

Zuki, a Gargoyle playing a table-top roleplay game. Zuki lives in Milton Keynes and works in IT. Zuki owns a few suits, the gargoyle is just one of them.

I initially photographed Smirnoff, a husky wolf hybrid who lives in North London with his family. Smirnoff is in his twenties and works in the creative industries as an actor. This was the first shoot and the results really inspired the approach I would take with the look of the pictures that followed. As natural looking as possible generally. Almost as though the photographer had stumbled onto the scene; don’t you realise that a wolf plays the piano everyday in this household?

Smirnoff is a husky wolf hybrid, he lives in North London. He works as an actor and director

Smirnoff is a husky wolf hybrid, he lives in North London. He works as an actor and director

I then met Lupus Londonwolf and Alfa Fox, a wolf and fox respectively who let on they loved to play poker at home. I wasn’t looking to force ideas on them, I wanted the furries to tell me what they like doing at home or in their local areas, so that I could at least get some semblance of their real lives.

Lupus Londonwolf and Alfa Fox, a wolf and fox. They live together in Bishops Stortford.

Lupus Londonwolf and Alfa Fox, a wolf and fox. They live together in Bishops Stortford.

What tended to happen is that I would photograph one furry who in turn would give ‘the nod’ to his/her friends. As in ‘this guy is alright, he’s not trying to do a sensationalised story about us’. That was very important to me, the project is a balanced look at the lives of people who like to dress as and identify as being a furry.Why do they do it? What they like it, how they got into it?

“First rule of Fur-Club.Don’t talk about fur-club. Second Rule: Don’t talk to journalists”

Getting access to this world wasn’t easy, I was greeted with suspicion initially when I started the project and it took some cajoling and convincing for me to be given access, but when I succeeded, I like to think I made it count with the photographs.

Chil, a disco gryphon eats breakfast at home. Chil is a project manager who lives in Brighton with his partner, Red Russell.

Chil, a disco gryphon eats breakfast at home. Chil is a project manager who lives in Brighton with his partner, Red Russell.

I could not have completed the work without the help of all the furries who gave up their time to be involved in the project and were only too keen to put in a good word for me.

Lupestripe, a wolf working on his car. Lupestripe, works as a journalist in Middlesborough. He takes part in lots of charity events

Lupestripe, a wolf working on his car. Lupestripe, works as a journalist in Middlesborough. He takes part in lots of charity events

A friend of Lupus Londonwolf, Lupestripe, a pink striped hybrid wolf from Middlesborough became a very enthusiastic champion of the project.( as did all the furries who took part in it in fact!)  Lupestripe and his partner, Wolfie helped me with one of the best shoots of At Home With The Furries.

Jester and Red. Jester is a sergal, a mythical creature and Red is a lion. They live in Sheffield

Jester and Red. Jester is a sergal, a mythical creature and Red is a lion. They live in Sheffield

I should mention and give thanks to Smirnoff, Lupus Londonwolf, Alfa Fox, Lupestripe, Wolfie, Moon, Broccoli, Fatkraken, Albrecht, Pickle, Quartermane, Kreek, Jester, Zuki, Akil Tawnybird, Ashram, Chil, Aggie, Red, Bren, Pants, Dolph, Wruf, Twinkie, Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Rochelle for their help, patience and participation with At Home With The Furries.

The full set of pictures can be seen on my website and I’ll be posting more images from each shoot over the coming weeks with accompanying interviews which will answer questions like : How can you be a furry and not have a fursuit? And I love this scene, how do I get into it?

Twinkie is a North American Sea Otter and when he's not swimming and jet-skiiing he likes to go fishing

Twinkie is a North American Sea Otter and when he’s not swimming and jet-skiiing he likes to go fishing

At Home With The Furries by Tom Broadbent

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