Ramin Rahimian: Worst in Show

Oct 2, 2015
Photographer Spotlight

Let's face it, some dogs are cuter than others. I know we'd all like to believe that we've got the "cutest dog in the world," but sometimes you just have to face the facts and admit that your dog may not have won the genetic lottery. The World's Ugliest Dog contest, held annually at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California, proudly applauds those imperfections and celebrates the unique quirks that make each of these plug-ugly pups lovable (and in many cases, adoptable).

Petaluma-based photographer Ramin Rahimian had heard about the contest for years, and recently decided to visit his hometown competition to shoot a personal project on the hideous hounds.

Being a work-from-home dad leaves me, unfortunately, with little time to come up with doable self-assigned photo projects. I had always heard about the contest and knew that one day I would shoot it in some form. I researched images taken at the contest from past years, and I felt I could do some nice portraits of the dogs and really focus on their ugly (beautiful) faces.

A quick look through Ramin's site will show you that the intention of many of his portraits is to make you chuckle. These fit in perfectly with that style, despite the dramatic lighting. Ramin enjoyed that the portraits of the dogs were slightly "off" moments, and that each subject made the frame a little quirky.

After making the portraits, Ramin decided to enlist the help of his wife to create a tabloid newspaper promo of the work. Each spread in the promo features a different dog with a little bio about what makes them special.

I thought the tabloid newspaper format would be the best way to present the portraits in a uniform and cohesive way. I wanted to devote a lot of space for each portrait to play big but also space for a bio of each dog ... I sent out 50, and the client list included current editorial clients to ad and design agencies to dog magazines. I even sent them to art directors at Petco and Petsmart. And, of course, to Rob Haggart (AKA APhotoEditor)!

Ramin says the project went surprisingly smooth from conception to promo creation. He credits that to the openness and willingness of the dog owners and their well-behaved dogs. Reactions to the promo are still slowly trickling in, but so far the feedback has been positive, and Ramin is thrilled with the final result of the project.

Ramin's final thought on the series?

Let’s celebrate ugly, too!

Check out more of Ramin's work on his website, raminphoto.com.

Tags: animals california photographer personal work petaluma portraits ramin rahimian ugly world's ugliest dog worst in show