For the people who are new to following me I thought I would give you all some background on each of the dogs you see featured in my work. Lets start with where it all began – Ralph the black and tan Mini Dachshund. My muse and my inspiration. He even has a book named after him.At the time I owned a Bullmastiff called Rocco and my sister decided to get herself a Dachshund who she called Ralph. An amazing bond happened between Rocco and Ralph. They became inseparable with this beautiful relationship of the big and the small. I felt I needed to document this couple and off I went to my local camera store and bought my first ever DSLR and from that day forward I was hooked.
I was not really a huge Dachshund fan until Ralph came along. I never understood why someone would engineer a dog like this. I thought they were such daggy looking dogs. But Ralph stole my heart and he seemed so proud of the way he looked. He didn’t care for his odd proportions. He constantly inspired me to create simple portraits that empowered him and what he was about; The Sausage Dog.
One of my very first images and also known as my most iconic is Ralphstar. Seen and loved by millions of people around the world. Why is this image so well known you ask? Is it the way people connect and relate? Here he is this proud little Dachshund perched on his shopping trolley with an intrepid look to save the world. Is there a story in this for all of us and does it bring out our ‘amour propre’? Perhaps deep down inside all of us there is courage and determination to be the ‘hero of our own story’.
This image is about the over abundance of confidence Ralph had as a small Dachshund. I found it quite extraordinary his delusional idiosyncratic belief. He had no concept of his size whatsoever. His self-image in his eyes made Ralph ten-feet-tall. Nothing could bring Ralph down – not even those tiny little legs – in his mind he was invincible and this made me want to turn him into the superhero he so longed to be.
I asked my sister to make a costume that was simple but effective and the cape and helmet were born. I had this vision where I could see Ralph in a shopping trolley being pushed along and if he could talk he would be yelling “faster… faster” standing gloriously strong with the wind in his cape and feeling like he could conquer the world. As soon as I positioned him in the trolley he stood proud as if this was where he belonged and Ralphstar was born.
I have been asked over the years if Ralph in the shopping trolley could be purchased. I know it has taken me an embrassingly long time but guess what? I did it, yip, that’s right, I have finally created a shop for this image: Be your own hero (Ralphstar)
Ralph and camera are like peanut butter and jelly – they were meant to be together. He knew how to ‘work-it’. Any idea or prop I threw at him he would exceed my expectations. It was almost like he knew what to do and what expressions were needed.Sadly 2 years ago we lost Ralph to cancer at the age of 8. Losing Ralph was tough to say the least. Our hearts broke into a million pieces and still hurting. He was special and one-in-a-million. What I would give right now to hold him in my arms and kiss his little nose, to hear him chase the delivery guy off the property or just to look into his sweet soulful eyes and tell him “I love him”. I miss him dearly.
Ralph ignited my passion for creating, the reason I picked up a camera and he gave me some of my most timeless imagery.
Ralph, our serious little man, you will never be forgotten and I’m forever in your debt.
“Every artist was first an amateur”
Ralph Waldo Emerson.