OMG (as they say in Essex). If you’re going to pitch an event that ties in with the cliched, stereotyped image of Essex, then this was just about right. Since I found out about Diva Dogs Day about a month ago, I knew I had to get along there and photograph the event. Like most up-and-coming jobs, I had researched the topic and tried to familiarise myself with what I would find. This one took a bit more mental preparation. As a dog photographer/owner/walker/lover, the thought of seeing dogs in tutus and tiaras was a little disturbing to say the least. But come on you wuss, just think about it – dressed up up dogs, many from the Toy Group, all gathering at a venue in Essex to celebrate doggy Diva-ishness, well it sounded like an photographic oppotunity not to be missed. This is the sort of stuff that normally only happens in crazy-old America. It’s kitsch, brash and over the top. It’s the stuff of beauty pageants and proms, but more and more it’s filtering into our society….or you could just see it as a bit of fun; a little dressing up never hurt anyone.
The day didn’t start too well with the gates not opening on time (almost an hour late) with the crowd striking up a chorus of “Why Are We Waiting”. Once open, a mass of costumed dogs made their way into the main indoor arena. The show ring was up and running with categories such as ‘Funkiest Hair-Do’ and ‘Mr Diva Dog’ and around the ring there were stalls set up selling everything from pet portraits to dog hotels. There was another area outside that seemed very cut off from the rest of the show. I hope the traders did some business as there were quite a few of them and revenue from these along with advertising in the brochure and the so-called ‘VIP’ area must have added up to nice little earner for the organisers. You have to hand it to Louise Harris – she’s obviously a savvy businesswoman who has built up a successful luxury pet boutique business and has managed to promote herself on TV and in the print media. She has her Diva Dogs book out and was there to sign copies and pass on her words of wisdom. You couldn’t miss her as she was the one in the bright pink tutu and was very much centre of attention for most of the day.
The people who attended yesterday all came to have a good time, meet other dog owners with similar breeds and parade their dogs. There’s nothing wrong with that. These are some of the most pampered pooches I’ve ever come across and they certainly don’t suffer from lack of love and attention from their owners. I did enjoy speaking to the owners who on the whole were a very friendly bunch who were more than willing show off their dogs and let them be photographed. One couple had made a seven-hour trip down from the Isle of Skye with their Maltese. I asked if there were any other Maltese on Skye? “No just your usual Border Collies and dogs like that”.
So, to the dogs. Well, the ones that weren’t wearing clothes, hats and bows were the ones that stood out. Daschund in a police uniform? – check. Papillon in Superman outfit? – check. Pink Poodle with fairy wings? – check. I enjoyed the experience to a point. It was fascinating to see the dogs in outfits and it almost got to the point where I was hunting out something a bit more wacky, a bit more weird as I went around. Towards the end though, I knew I’d had enough. It was almost as though my inbuilt tacky-ometer had reached the tipping point and I needed some normality to bring me back down.
I think everyone there yesterday knew that it was a bit of fun and I’m sure none of the dogs are wearing jewels or feathers today. But I do realise that a lot of people get very angry about this sort of thing and reading some of the comments from the Daily Mail article that appeared today would back this up. My job was to photograph the event in the documentary style that I prefer so I’d be grateful for any comments you have either about the pictures I’ll be posting in the next few days, or if you were there yesterday, what did you think about it?
I gave out lots of cards yesterday to the owners of the dogs I photographed but there were many others there that might like to see this post so I’d appreciate it if you could share it with your friends, fellow dog owners or on your Facebook pages. I will be adding all the pics to the shop part of my website towards the end of the week if you are interested in buying any prints etc of your dogs. I’ll also add all the pics to my The Dog Snapper Facebook page and if you are interested in seeing more of my dog photography, you could always ‘like’ the FB page for regular postings.
One last thing, I find it slightly strange how quiet it’s been on the Diva Dogs communication front today. In the run up to the event there were tweets and retweets coming thick and fast, but nothing the day after the event? The website and Facebook page haven’t been updated – no pictures of the winners, no pictures of Louise. Maybe they’ve all gone for a little dog-nap?
Can someone let me know the name of the dog that won best in show?
Please come back tomorrow for the next post