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Really, ever since I can remember, animals have been a big part of my life. In the Lombard household growing up, it wouldn't be uncommon to see cats on the dinner table while dogs were barking and little finches were chirping from the other room. As most people often do, I would photograph my family during visits home for holidays and vacations—which, as you can imagine, unavoidably involved animals, considering how many we had. (To put things in perspective: five cats, four dogs, turtles, lizards, hamsters, and more.)
It wasn't until early 2013 that I really started to shift my camera lens toward other animal lovers. When I found myself in a photographic rut, I tried to focus my energy on the areas of interest that I enjoyed most in life, one of which was animals. I began traveling to niche animal shows—from ferret shows to dog shows—for a series that would later be titled "Welcome to the Show."
It's worth noting I'm not so much interested in photographing the animals themselves as I am interested in the culture as a whole. There's something that is so incredible about being in a room full of people who all have a mutual passion. This simple concept is something that has fueled my drive to photograph for the past few years. Groups of like-minded individuals are not only interesting on a visual level, but when you hear the stories that come from these events it would just blow you away. While I know, photographically speaking, animal shows are saturated territory, what I hope to do is shine light on the lesser-known shows and animal communities in the United States. It goes without saying these people do love their animals, but the photos also have a level of humor and absurdity involved.
This photo in particular was shot at the 2013 AKC Meet the Breeds at the Javits Center, in New York City. Not particularly niche, but still an animal show that's not to be missed. As I said above, it's not so much just about the animals—whether humans are in the frame or not—the owners and their passion surrounding the culture are what make the body of work compelling. Even in this case, where it's just a hand in the frame, you still understand the human element is what makes the entire culture interesting.
I'm the least techie photographer I know. The gear, camera functions, and lights are not what I love about photography—I'm more interested in the image itself and connecting with people. If I'm being honest, with this project much of what I do is pretty haphazard—I think using the flash lends itself to making that approach work. I shoot with the Sunpak 622 very regularly, but I don't keep it bracketed to the camera ever—I move it around quite a bit till I feel like the flash is just right.
With this image in particular, it was mostly adjusting the exposure ever so slightly and boosting saturation. My work rarely requires intense post production because it's documentary and I'm not looking for pristine, perfect images. I'm instead looking for authenticity.
About Amy Lombard: Born and raised just outside of Philadelphia, PA, Amy Lombard moved to New York to pursue her BFA in Photography from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn with her Pomeranian, Sasha, and is exhibiting work nationally and internationally.