We express love for our dogs in so many ways… spoiling them with treats and toys, taking them on adventures, or just kicking back on the couch. For lots of folks the relationship between human and dog takes on new meaning. They have the power to heal nearly-broken spirits, and sometimes they’re the only reason our butts make it out of the house.
Dogs are freakin’ awesome—have we mentioned that? You know how we know? People tell their stories ALL the time. Photographer Robert Stoetzel has a knack for sharing them with his Human + Hound project, with which he and his camera celebrate the exclusive bond between those on four legs and two.
You might be thinking, Wait—I already know about the special relationship between me and my dog, they’re man’s best friend! But ho there, Kind Sir or Madam! You’ve never seen a series of photos quite this this before, trust me.
Stoetzel barked a bit with us on his outrageously cool project, and he mentioned one thing that might surprise you:
I actually never had a dog growing up, and it’s only been over the last few years that I have become dog person.
WHAT? You mean you weren’t born with a leash in your hand and a handful of treats in your pocket for all the dogs gracing the earth with their presence?
I kid, I kid. In fact, Stoetzel’s heart has already been stolen by a Havanese named Cheeky. Which is fitting, since she’s reportedly a ham for the camera.
I love that little dog, she always makes me smile. She is often the subject of my photos and has become a bit of a diva… so I don’t usually bring her out with me while shooting for Human + Hound, as she really has a hard time with the concept that I would photograph someone other then her!
It’s always the little dogs, eh? Tiny attention hogs.
Stoetzel began the project on Instagram about a year ago, and kickstarted a series of lookbooks for the online pet supply shop Dog & Co.. The photos “focus on the lifestyles and relationships of interesting people and their pets,” which embody something we can’t quite put our paws on. After observing these pawesome pairings for some time, it’s understandable that he began to notice dogs and their humans every time they passed on the street.
He also photographs some of the wonderful adoptable dogs at Sugar Mutts Rescue in Brooklyn, NY. Bringing out their personalities through the camera is only second best to meeting them in person, but working with the rescues is a “great boot camp,” he says. It’s especially helpful when it comes time to take snapshots of the duos out in the world.
When asked how Human + Hound finds its niche among the existing photographers with a similar love for dogs, Stoetzel sums it up perfectly:
I’m definitely inspired for this project by some of the best daily street photographers on Instagram. I’d say Human + Hound has a bit less fashion than the Sartorialist, a few more people than the Dogist, and it’s way less serious than [Humans of New York]. It’s about people and their dogs, so it’s generally really positive. People are their truest selves, most relaxed and happiest when they are with their dogs and I love to be able to capture that!