Little Kids and Their Big Dogs: Interview with Andy Seliverstoff
Andy Seliverstoff lives in St. Petersburg, Russia and specializes in photographing all kinds of dogs, but in particular big ones! Andy has lived with Great Danes for more than two decades, and regularly documents the competitions at dog shows all around Russia and Europe.
When he was asked to photograph a family friend’s toddler the family turned up with their own Great Dane. Struck by the special relationship between the child and her dog, Andy was inspired to start photographing more children and their giant dogs. Now he’s released Little Kids and Their Big Dogs, a photography book documenting this special relationship, accompanied by charming, quirky pieces of writing.
We caught up with Andy to talk about his lovely book.
Hi Andy – this is such a charming idea for a book! What made you decide to combine the photographs with the lovely, quirky pieces of writing?
I think the book reads a little like fairytales for children – would you agree? When I started photographing the children, I asked the parents and dog owners to send their children’s and dogs’ names, ages, heights and weights – I thought that might be interesting to people; it seemed to me that it will be interesting to people, considering my work. The owner of the Harlequin Great Dane Leonella and the black Great Dane Wolf, Julia Veshkelskaya, didn’t send those personal details, but rather some interesting little stories. I liked them, and asked her to write the texts for the other photos. I wanted the book’s beautiful and unusual photos and stories to captivate not only adults, but also the youngest readers. I hope that together we have succeeded.
The photographs have a wonderful timeless quality to them. What cameras and equipment did you use to shoot them? Were they all shot with natural light?
All of the shoots for the project took place in natural light. I shoot with a Canon EOS 5D Mk IV and Mk III along with Canon EF 85mm f1.2L II USM and Canon EF 135mm f2L USM lenses. I also use two tripods – the Gitzo G1157 Mountaineer Sport Carbon 6X and the Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Aluminum.
How did you get started as a photographer? Do you exclusively shoot dogs, or do you work in other genres as well?
I am a professional programmer and designer. Photography has always been a passion of mine. I’ve dabbled in other genres, but have always incorporated dogs in some way.
What projects are you working on next? Do you plan to do any more dog books?
I see that this unspoken dialogue between children and dogs really resonates in the hearts of so many people. Especially when it emphasizes the contrast between the small children’s sizes and their larger friends. I’m interested in continuing my work in this direction. I’m already at work on a sequel to the first book. I’d love to present all large breeds of dogs in this next project.
You’re obviously a Great Dane fan as you live with them yourself, but do you have a favourite photograph in the book? If so, why is this?
I love all dogs. But as the owner of a Great Dane, I know that breed best. In fact, Great Danes aren’t dogs at all – they’re really more like people. Any photo featuring one of them is my favorite!
Little Kids and Their Big Dogs is published by Revodana Publishing, founded by Denise Flaim – an award-winning journalist and big-dog expert. We asked Denise what first attracted her to Andy’s project and what made her decide to publish it?
What attracted me most about Andy’s photographs was the sheer joy that they elicited in people. There is something about the emotion he captures between the dogs and the kids – it almost crackles. And the fact that I was hard pressed to pick out a favorite one – or even two or three – told me there was something really special here.
Little Kids and Their Big Dogs can be purchased on Amazon.