Rhiannon Evans is a photographer, living in Glasgow, working with a fresh, documentary style. Her choice of subjects allows her to submerge herself within the action creating an up close and personal perspective, shedding new light on previously unseen environments.
Her latest project sees her get involved with Police Scotland’s Dog Branch, looking at the working life of the police and the animals they dedicate their time to training and caring for.
Evans said that when starting the project she was aware of negative press surrounding the use of working animals, and I wondered how those who she would be photographing felt about a stranger coming into their place of work with the intention of sharing their days with a wider audience.
‘At first I thought that some of the people I met felt as though it was a waste of their time but after showing them my progress they were happy with how they were looking.’
The Dog Branch comprises 75 police dog handlers located throughout Scotland and training has been centralised at the National Dog Training Centre in Glasgow.
I asked Evans how she had approached the project and what she hoped to achieve through her photographs.
‘I was hoping that my photographs would show a side that you would never see, you would get to experience the working relationship between dog and handler.’
‘My project was about showing the animals in their prime and examples of how they can be used to benefit humans in a way in which you wouldn’t normally get to experience unless you are closely involved with it.’
A man’s best friend is his dog, so they say, why would it be any different in a working environment?
‘Despite the dogs being used for purposes like human remains detection, or finding drugs, bombs or a person who had fallen whilst out hill walking, everybody apart from one team member within the dog branch said that they considered the dogs to be a pet as well a colleague.’
However, in saying this Evans also notes on the great difference between these dogs and their handlers to those who operated within the detection branch,
‘they only saw the dogs to be colleagues and the dogs had never even entered their homes.’
Some of the photographs are quite intimidating for the viewer, the dogs are clearly acting aggressively, and it must have taken focus to be able to take successful images when instincts are responding to threat. As she says, the dogs are;
‘trained to look aggressive and when needed to, can be aggressive.’
Evan’s work is laid bare, shedding the altered and edited look that so many photographers adopt to show a subject as it is, in its true form. This allows an honest reception of the story being told and invites the audience inside a world they haven’t ever been included in before, opening the door to the lives of others.
Evan’s hopes to expand on this series by exploring further into working animals, this time the small creatures of the world that are being trained to further help the humans of the world.
To find out more visit: www.rsevans.co.uk
Interview by: Jenny Coyne