In 2008 photographer Tom Broadbent was sent out on an unusual magazine assignment. He was invited to attend and snap some pictures at the Rather Brilliant Weekend, a London convention for the ’furry’ community - a subculture who collect items and media relating to anthropomorphic characters, and often dress up as them too, whether it be wearing ’regular human clothes’ with an animal head, or a full suit.
’As I came out of the cab and walked into the hotel lobby where the convention was being held, a six-foot wolf walked across my path and I thought it was pretty amazing,’ he recalls. After taking pawtraits (sorry) of the different furries at the convention, Broadbent came up with the idea of a project where he photographed them at home in their costumes. The result is almost ten years’ worth of work, titled ’At Home with the Furries.’
Now Broadbent has launched a Kickstarter campaign to self-publish a book of around 30 portraits of furries in various domestic scenes. From a border collie sat in his bedroom strumming the guitar, to a Welsh dragon chopping leeks in his kitchen and a fox and a wolf playing poker, his pawsome work makes the mundane look extraordinary.
It took Broadbent around a year of going to furry meetups in London - which can sometimes attract as many as 200 people - and building up trust with members of the community before he began photographing them in their houses. ‘Now, many of them have become my good friends - I’ve even worn a borrowed furry suit myself many times - and the response has been phenomenal, both from the furry community, many of whom have pledged money towards it and other people and media outlets.’
Last year, his image of Smirnoff, a husky-wolf hybrid, sat at his piano was featured in a book ‘1001 Photographs You Must See Before You Die’.
’The one thing I’ve wanted to do with this project is to shine a light on this pretty amazing group,’ Broadbent explains. ‘I wanted to show that the furries are relatively normal people and it’s an interesting dichotomy that I’ve placed them in normal surroundings but they have these fantastic costumes on. Some of them are very shy, but when they put on their outfits on they transform into their characters and it is really fascinating to watch.’
Broadbent’s Kickstarter will close on Thursday 5 April at 7.42 am.