If you do a Google search for “Ben Baker Photographer” you come up with some pretty impressive and beautiful images of famous people – politicians, actors, entrepreneurs, etc. Ben has shot amazing images of everyone from Barack and Michelle Obama to Warren Buffet, the Romneys, John McCain, Kanye West, Scarlett Johansson, Leonardo DiCaprio and more. His images grace the covers of Time, Marie Claire, Parade, Forbes, Newsweek, GQ and the like. But, if you were walking the streets of DC on the Saturday after Thanksgiving last year, you would have seen Ben photographing a completely different subject – my dog Garvey.
You see, Ben has a pet project (no pun intended) that he has been working on for close to a year that is very dear to both our hearts.
Coneheads is a photo project focusing on pets in recovery. It began as a collaborative effort between Ben and fashion designer/animal lover, Sylvie Cachay. While walking the streets of New York City, the pair would come across these brave dogs and ponder what it would be like to capture them on film, catching their true personalities through the “cones” they wore. Tragically, Sylvie passed away before the project could begin. However, Ben, with the help of The Sylvie Cachay Memorial Project, is pushing on to complete the series.
The dogs that have been photographed to date are dear creatures with loving owners that take the best care of their pets. These animals, always in good spirits, wear their cones with dignity or humor and bring a smile to our faces when we see them.
When Ben found out that my beast, Garvey, was going to have surgery on his knee, we discussed about how great it would be to get him in the series of photographs. You see, Sylvie was my cousin and having a family pooch in the series was something we thought she would have truly appreciated and loved.
Unfortunately, with me living in Maryland and Ben living in NYC, we knew that getting shots of Garvey might be difficult, if not, impossible. Luckily, the canine surgery stars aligned and Garvey had his surgery in November and was in collar-wearing mode when Ben came to DC for a visit during the Thanksgiving holiday. Garvey is a Mastiff, Great Dane, Lab mix. At around 140 pounds, Garvey is, quite literally, a beast. But, he is also a good sport and loves car rides, so regardless of a bum knee with 30+ staples recently removed, he was still excited about a car ride into the city.
Ben and I decided to take advantage of the city’s sites for the shoot and took Garvey to the center of it all, the White House and the Mall. It was a gorgeous fall day and there were throngs of tourists everywhere. My laid back dog was happy- go-lucky wearing his massive collar and paid no mind to the endless pats on the head, the symphonies of giggles, or the constant pictures people took (let alone, Ben). On a regular day, Garvey gets plenty of attention, stares and comments and non-stop questions about his breed (including little kids asking if he’s part horse – to which he bears a strong resemblance), but you throw an Elizabethan collar on him and the stares, comments and questions increase ten-fold. In the end, as I was sure he would, Ben took pictures that captured Garvey’s approach to the cone perfectly (cone, what cone, do I smell hot dog?) and that will give us a smile every time we see them. I’m hoping that they also help with Ben’s project.
While we were walking around DC, Ben mentioned that earlier in the week he had done a shoot of Richard Branson. Branson had asked Ben who else was on his schedule for the week. Ben replied, “Well, apart from you…there are a couple of dogs.” If Garvey only understood the company he kept.
Sweet Dogs in Cones are Still Needed!
If you or someone you know lives in the NYC area and has a dog that is in recovery or will be recovering and is required to wear an Elizabethan collar and are interested in being in the series, please contact one of the following email addresses with your information:
Owners of dogs photographed will receive an 11×14 print for their collection. The Coneheads project will culminate with a book and exhibit with proceeds benefiting The Sylvie Cachay Memorial Project.