There are many categories of dogs: sporting dogs, toy dogs and working dogs. Photographer Andrew Fladeboe focuses his attention on working dogs in his collection of images. Working dogs are not merely pets but they learn and performs tasks to assist and/or entertain their human companions. For instance in Australia and New Zealand, a working dog is one which has been trained to work with livestock, regardless of its breed. Fladeboe’s passion for animals started early, and it has led to a three-part collection about working dogs entitled The Shepherd’s Realm.
Fladeboe’s choice of dogs was an ideal one since he could travel anywhere in the world and photograph them. “Their wide range of sizes and looks would give me a lot to draw from” he said. Among his destinations, he went to Norway for two months which is where he narrowed his subject to working dogs.
“They represent the most noble of animals, a gift from the gods that has evolved with us and helped us develop as a species,” wrote Fladeboe. Norway also turned out to be a perfect landscape that allowed him avoid digital manipulation. For the last leg he went to New Zealand, where he had to work with some reluctant farmers. While the dogs were highly trained, the handlers or owners needed some prodding.
“It’s interesting, for example, convincing a farmer to walk to the top of a big hill, setting up my lights, lying in the mud or sheep shit, and trying to negotiate with the owner to get the dog to look a certain way,” recalled Fladeboe. “I must look like a crazy person to them. But often they end up enjoying the process and I somehow gain their respect, and they end up introducing me to their neighbors or friends with dogs.”
Fladeboe has a forthcoming book in the pipeline. He will also have a show in New York this October with Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art. His wish list for countries to visit is still a work in progress though.
In the meantime, enjoy what he has so far accumulated here.