• 2.27.18

    Ben Rayner Goes Behind the Scenes at the Westminster Dog Show

    The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is the most recognized dog show in the world, broadcast to all corners and attracting millions of viewers every year. One of those viewers is photographer Ben Rayner who decided it wasn’t enough to watch at home. A few years ago he grabbed his camera and his wife and went to the show to see it in person. “It actually started off as just something fun me and my wife did together and I took a camera and we went back again and it was hilarious,” says Ben. “It really is like nothing you’ve ever seen.”

    This year Ben brought back with him a collection of photographs that reveal what it’s really like to be there at the show and experience the insanity of it all. On screen it looks like relatively tame experience with a wide playing field and a ton of spectators, but behind the scenes it’s a very carefully controlled version of quiet chaos. “There’s obviously no getting anyone to pose, there’s none of that, it’s purely fly on the wall,” Ben explains. “A lot of times there’s a lot of people crowding around so that’s quite an interesting shot sometimes when there’s lots of people huddled in one shot. There was loads of stuff. There’s definitely a lot of energy in there, a lot of dogs in one place. It could be a disaster but it’s pretty chill there.” 

    Ben brought his unique aesthetic to this shoot, employing a camera mounted flash to make the project almost feel like a club scene, bringing a sense of humor to the presence of the dogs. When watching a dog show it’s easy to forget that even though it’s ostensibly a dog show, it’s a show for humans to show off the effort and will of other humans. “It’s breeders, it’s people who breed the dogs, it’s the dedication that people have to their breed it’s almost like their life’s work,” Ben explains. “They know everything about them. It’s bordering on obsession.”

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