Portraiture

Living With Dogs

Photographer Dylan Collard spent 18 months exploring people’s domestic relationship with their dogs – sometimes, lots of dogs!

Living With Dogs is a project exploring people’s domestic relationship with all kinds of dogs – pet dogs, assistance dogs, sports dogs, rescue dogs and working dogs. Through photographs taken over the last 18 months, the project looks at how we share our homes, sofas, living rooms and lives with our canine friends. Living With Dogs is about love, family, support, connection, belonging and home.

The theme common to all of the pictures is companionship. In the detail in each room, in the gaze between dog and owner, in the touch of a hand, the pictures on the walls, in the resting of a head and the leaning on a leg. Living With Dogs presents vignettes of the human/canine relationship in the context, privacy, and sanctity of the sitter’s home.

Living With Dogs is born from a long-held idea that one day I should combine my two passions, photography and dogs. I’ve been working as a commercial photographer for nearly 20 years and for the last 12, dogs have been a big part of my life.

Vera
Mala
Julie and John
Anna and Blake

As a dog owner I have two dogs, a Border Terrier called Amos and a working Labrador called Edie. My first dog Amos was an education! As a typical terrier he was a ‘lively’ puppy. His drive and enthusiasm for life (and squirrels) was a challenge for a first-time dog owner. It’s Amos who led me (at full speed and barking all the way) into a world of dog training, dog sports and competing that I previously had no idea existed. It’s a supportive, encouraging and close-knit scene that in a world of rapidly developing tech, alternative realities and shifting ideals is losing support. It’s a little bit quirky, is full of lovely people, has bags of character and is as quintessentially British as you can get.

As a dog-owning newcomer and photographer, I had always thought a photo project was there waiting to be discovered, but for a while I couldn’t decide what it was. I’d noticed something about multi dog households seemed to fascinate and terrify my non dog loving friends.

Whenever I mentioned I knew people with 5, 8, or even 10+ dogs their eyes widened as they imagined houses covered in hair, full of constant noise, fights, and chaos. Although this may be part of everyone’s life with dogs from time to time, no one could stand it as a constant and as far as I have seen it’s not the norm. The norm is what I photographed as I sat and chatted to sitters and their dogs relaxed, got bored and settled down. The norm was excitement and inquisitiveness as I arrived, fascination as I carried equipment in, nosiness as I opened bags, and then not long after, acceptance and calm.

Kate and Jenny
Val and Peter
Hannah and Family
Sarah

The idea for Living With Dogs started with a look at people with multiple dogs. I’ve been working on the project for over a year now after I started with Val and Peter back in April 2021. Since then, I’ve been to over 40 homes and photographed people with sports dogs, assistance dogs, working dogs, rescue dogs and of course pet dogs. I’ve travelled all over the UK and been to multi dog households with as many as 19 dogs and to other homes with just a single dog.

I’ve met big dogs, little dogs, hairy dogs, short haired dogs, confident dogs, shy dogs, scary dogs, timid dogs, cuddly dogs, country dogs, city dogs and deaf dogs and I’m still shooting! I’ve not once been bitten, and only once have I very fleetingly felt just a tiny bit concerned about a dog as it came to check me out.

Ananya and Simon
Chloe
Lyn

This project has allowed me to meet some amazing people, who have generously given their time, invited me into their homes and told me the stories of their lives with dogs. Some people have years of experience, having grown up with dogs, others are first time dog owners and are just starting their journey with their new canine companion. They all have a unique bond with their pets and love sharing their lives with dogs.

Rosie and Alfie
Marianne and John
Jane and Anfisa
Jim

Living With Dogs is to be a photo book self published via a Kickstarter campaign to be launched on the 14th July 2022. It will be a beautifully designed, high quality hardback book that features 50 portraits of people relaxing with their pets, 25 sitters stories and 5 essays by dog specialists in their field. For more information, go to www.livingwithdogsbook.com. All profits from this first edition will go to dog charities.

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The photographer

Dylan Collard

Dylan Collard is a London based, award winning advertising photographer who shoots environmental and studio portraiture. He also regularly works on personal projects, the last one taking him around both the US and UK shooting portraits of over 250 people for Ages Of Us.

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