Pit Bulls, more so than most other breeds, are subjected to a great deal of prejudice and misrepresentation. Granted, there are times when said discrimination is warranted, it’s more often than not the lack of first-hand experience and knowledge, combined with society’s portrayal of the breed that lead to the misconceptions that exist.
Photographer Sophie Gamand was one of those who admittedly have a great deal of personal experience with Pit Bulls. But after spending time volunteering with a number of rescue groups, she started knowing the breed on a more personal level, appreciating them for their sweet-natured side that shines through when treated and respected properly. Thus, in an effort to shine a more proper light on these adoptable animals, she’s using her photographic abilities to create her Flower Power, Pit Bulls of the Revolution series.
In the series, she’s taken a number of Pit Bulls from three separate NYC shelters – Sean Casey Animal Rescue, Second Chance Rescue and Animal Haven – and photographed them, both literally and metaphorically, in a new light. In an email to us, she explained why she chose the theme she did, saying,
I realized pit bulls were always portrayed in very urban, gritty photographs. The imagery associated with these dogs is often harsh, very contrasted, conveying the idea of them being tough. In my opinion, this feeds the myth that these dogs are dormant psychopaths. So I decided to take the other route and portray them like hippies, soft fairy-tale-inspired characters, feminine and dreamy. The idea of Flower Power blossomed.
And blossomed it did. With the help of her #PitBullFlowerPower social media campaign, which invites everyone to post a picture on social media of their pet with flowers, the project is doing well. But, as always, it could use as much help as possible. Garland says the reception has been almost completely positive, specifically stating in regards to the feedback and criticism,
95% of the viewers received the Flower Power photographs very well. 5% have been posting hateful messages and emailing me their frustration. Yet nobody will change my mind. This project is not about saying all pit bulls are angels and encourage people to adopt them without educating themselves first. It is about learning to look at things with an open heart.
In addition to the images being shared virally across the web, Gamand is also selling prints of these images, with a 2015 calendar currently in the works. Naturally, 100% of proceeds will be split and go directly to the aforementioned rescue groups.
Regardless of what your opinion of these creatures are, use this as an opportunity to properly educate yourself and others on the matter and gain a first-person perspective of Pit Bulls. Go spend some time in an animal shelter, speak to the people there who interact with Pit Bulls on a daily basis and overall take a more open approach to learning about these loving animals.
Image credits: Photographs by Sophie Gamand and used with permission