Big dogs often get a bad rep purely based on their size. However, Andy Seliverstoff is on a mission to prove that most larger-than-life canines are in fact gentle giants. And by juxtaposing huge hounds beside tiny tots, the photographer shows that good things come in all sizes.
Seliverstoff is a photographer from St. Petersburg, Russia. And while he’s always loved taking pictures, he only turned his hobby into a profession four years ago. What’s more, the Russian talent has a very particular type of subject that he likes to capture on film.
Specifically, Seliverstoff specializes in taking snaps of dogs. In fact, he spends hours and hours with his canine subjects in order to capture each pooch’s unique personality. And while he loves all kinds of hounds, in his photos at least there seems to be one overriding theme: the bigger the dog, the better.
Moreover, the photographer’s passion for documenting colossal canines is perhaps all down to his own beloved pooches. Twenty-five years ago, Seliverstoff’s love affair with larger dogs began when he became the proud owner of a St. Bernard. Today, meanwhile, he is the owner of an even bigger hound: a Great Dane named “Orchidea MonAmour,” or “orchestrate my love.”
And for the past few years Seliverstoff has been traveling the world, documenting dog shows with his camera. “I always take plenty of time with the dog who’s in front of my camera so I get to know the personality of my dog model the best I can,” the photographer wrote on his website. “The personality and the character is unique for every individual dog.”
“My passion is photographing dogs of all kind, but I have a special love for the Great Danes,” Seliverstoff continued. “They touch me emotionally and I just can’t get enough photos of them.”
Naturally, then, when some close friends asked Seliverstoff to conduct a photo shoot with their pet Great Dane and two-year-old daughter Alice, he jumped at the chance. And in the adorable images that resulted, five-year-old dog Sean, who weighed an impressive 182 pounds, towered over the little toddler.
At around the same time, meanwhile, Seliverstoff was also hired to take pictures of a massive Newfoundland named Ringo and a little boy called Theo. Upon noticing the similarity between the two shoots, then, the photographer decided to post the pictures on social media. And, not surprisingly, they were a hit.
“[People] said it was deeply touching,” Seliverstoff said in a 2016 interview with the Daily Mail. So, he added, “I decided to continue working on the project.” Indeed, it had turned out that the dog lover had spotted an opportunity to show the better sides of bigger breeds.
“The main priority with these photos wasn’t just to make beautiful pictures,” he told the Daily Mail, “but to also show how children and their big dogs communicate and make contact with each other.” And they seemed to spark something off in him, as Seliverstoff soon got to work compiling as many images of huge canines and small children together as he could.
Indeed, Seliverstoff spent the best part of four months picking out the friendliest big dogs St. Petersburg had to offer. “It’s very difficult to say if big breeds get a bad name, because all dogs are very different,” he said to the Daily Mail. “We only took photos with dogs that have a stable mind and good temperament, as these dogs are open to bonding with both people and children.”
In order to produce the most natural results, moreover, Seliverstoff took advantage of St. Petersburg’s parks. Often, then, his photo shoots were in places the dogs were already familiar visiting. In addition, he knew most of the dogs as well as the kids he was photographing. And, for the most part, Seliverstoff only asked the kids to walk and play with the dogs as he snapped away.
When Seliverstoff shared his project on Instagram, however, the images proved immensely popular. The photographer now boasts an incredible 38,700 followers on the social media site and can expect more than 2,000 “likes” for each image he posts.
And it’s obvious why the snaps have garnered so many fans: after all, his magical collection of photographs perfectly capture youth’s innocence and pets’ charm. The joyful images show children running alongside their giant four-legged friends, playing soccer and even hitching rides.
What’s more, Seliverstoff also captured some more tender moments between kids and their pets. One image shows a little girl wrapped around the neck of a Great Dane as the pair enjoy a cuddle. Another, meanwhile, pictures a small boy and his dog cozied up by a campfire.
Of all the dogs Seliverstoff encountered, though, the biggest was a St. Bernard named Misha. At just five years old, the almighty dog already weighed in at a staggering 210 pounds. But Misha turned out to be somewhat of a gentle giant: in his shoot, he sat patiently as one-year-old Matthew tenderly stroked the beautiful beast’s face.
Furthermore, the reaction to Seliverstoff’s photography series has been overwhelmingly positive. “What absolutely amazing photos. Two of my favorite things in the world, dogs and kids,” read one review. “[The photos] touched the very core of my soul,” read another. “Thank you for the beauty that is often missing from our lives.”
With all the support Seliverstoff’s images were receiving, then, it was perhaps unsurprising that in late 2016 the photographer announced he was doing a book. Simply entitled Little Kids and Their Big Dogs, the collection of images will feature large breeds – such as Irish wolfhounds, Great Danes and St. Bernards – interacting with their smaller, human friends.
The amazing picture book is scheduled for release in February 2017. According to Seliverstoff, the collection celebrates “the state of endless joy and mutual confidence” between his subjects. And, if the photographer’s Instagram account is anything to go by, it’s bound to be popular.
Still, while some people will no doubt purchase the book just to ogle at the size difference between kids and their canine companions, to Seliverstoff it has a deeper meaning. Indeed, in a chat with BuzzFeed in January 2017, the photographer suggested that even grown-ups could learn something from his snaps. “Love for dogs and children makes people kinder,” he said.