Tell us about the birth and the development of such a project.
The London magazine “Stylist” wanted a natural landscape somewhere other than in England for a fashion photo session. The idea of using huskies came to me very quickly, but the problem was the aspect of “the girl who walks her dogs” that I had to absolutely avoid. That was the first remark that the designer made to me. I love the “Game of Thrones” and “Lord of the Rings” series, and suddenly I thought we could make it “The Queen of the Huskies”.
The other constraint was the need to have a room big enough in the same area to accommodate the team. Finding the ideal place, not too far from a husky kennel, in the mountains with the proper facilities was not a small task. I was very lucky to find the perfect place in such a short time. Immediately, I set out to scout the location, an extremely important process. This enables you to already imagine photos and plan eventual problems.
As soon as I got back from scouting the location, I did some research of photographic references on anything that could be found about model and huskies. To my amazement, I realized that there was almost nothing that had been done on the subject. The delicate matter were the dogs, they cannot be controlled.
I had already worked with them previously, but never in a pack like here. I was warned that when working with dogs in a pack, they become very instinctive and unpredictable. I realized that this shoot would involve a lot of improvisation and since I’m a photographer who loves organization and who knew the direction it would take, I had to make some concessions. The fact that it would be done with dogs implied a bit of luck, and that was my great anxiety during the shoot.
Yet the model appeared very comfortable with the dog.
Obviously, that was a top requirement! The agency really needed to be briefed so that the model would have absolutely no fear of dogs. I did a shoot with horses and the model was afraid of animals, a disaster. She was even afraid of ponies, for heaven’s sake! What we wanted also was a model with something special about her character, her look and something that commands respect if I can say that.
And we choose this beautiful model from the Fiji Islands who was very comfortable with dogs.
Can you describe the importance of details in such a project, especially on the accessories!
What worried me was the fact that we should keep the dogs on a leash. Yet, when speaking about “The Queen of Huskies,” you feel the sense of control that she has over her dogs, right? So I was afraid of losing control over the final feeling, that it might lose credibility. The worst is that for huskies in a pack, there are harnesses around their chests. So I had to explain my anxiety to the stylist, so that she would find me some normal leashes, especially ones that were beautiful to look at! And as if by magic, she showed up with the most beautiful leashes that I have ever seen in my life. So obviously, these leashes were worth a fortune, but it’s this kind of detail that allows the project to make a difference.
In the end, how did it go with the dogs?
Very good actually! Ho yes, and there was this puppy! We knew from the beginning we wanted it, because it is very rare to have Husky puppies. The list to purchase them is very long. In fact the puppy had already gone to a couple, but the husband discovered he was allergic to dogs! So with regret, they had to bring it back and to the delight of everyone, we were able to have the puppy on the shoot. But the thing is, the puppy was super excited. He pulled and mauled the dress with his teeth, dresses that are worth a real fortune! So we simply let him follow us until he collapsed from fatigue! He didn’t have the endurance of an ELB 400, for sure! The Li-ion battery also lasted throughout the day of the shoot, it’s amazing! But the dog followed us and BOOM! He collapsed before waking up full of energy again. We waited until he was calm for the famous photo where the dog was in her arms, but stylist almost died of fear, because the jacket was worth £16,000!!!
In the end she was really very pleased with the results. We were all very proud that we had made this wonderful images!