At Home With The Furries is an ongoing photography project by Tom Broadbent, a UK-based photographer.
The idea behind the photos is simple and effective. He photographs suiters in their homes, performing mundane personal activities. It’s day-to-day stuff: cooking, cleaning, relaxing. All pretty boring yet obviously impractical while wearing a fursuit.
The concept is an ironic one; juxtaposition of a mundane activity with the ludicrousness of doing so in suit. It places the character of each suit front and centre, in a way that celebrates the identity aspects of the furry experience. Yet it’s the humour that make the pictures special.
Broadbent’s use of colour and contrast is particularly striking. Photographing fursuits in a natural way is challenging because of garish colours and the general cartoonishness of a giant fuzzy animal-person. Broadbent keeps the furries connected with their environment by putting them around vivid, sharp colours and contrasts.
There is obviously a lot of care in the framing of Broadbent’s pictures despite their ‘slice of life’ quality. There is a diorama quality to them, that encourages the viewer to explore the environment for artefacts that surround and inform the furry character in the centre.
Broadbent’s method has similarities to the cinematography of some of Wes Anderson’s more character-driven work, such as The Royal Tenenbaums.
Broadbent chose furries as a subject after coming across the community while working as a photo editor. He has spent several years photographing furries and enjoys a good relationship with the community, including attending the occasional Londonfurs meet.
His furry photos are a win-win for those furries happy to be shot. The furry gets a series of professional photos of themselves in suit; Broadbent owns the copyright. At Home With The Furries has appeared in print several times, most notably in a Sunday Times Magazine feature back in 2013. Broadbent is careful about how his photos are used, and will refuse to sell them unless they are presented in a positive context. (Example: he has outright refused an offer from The Daily Mail.)
At Home With The Furries shares some similarities with a series of photo-manipulations by Christoph Meyer. Meyer’s work is a lot simpler than Broadbent’s, but he creates a similar effect using sepia-toned snapshots, replacing human faces with animals.
Meyer’s work similarly draws animal-people out of the fantastical and into the mundane world. Like Broadbent’s work, the works reply on the juxtaposition of the real and unreal. (Unlike Broadbent’s work, Meyer spent “3 days” to complete his series “for fun”, and has no further aspirations, commercial or otherwise.)
Sadly, Broadbent’s work is notable for its respect shown towards furries. We are all very familiar with publications who hold furries up for ridicule.
The publications largely define the way furries are presented of course, but the photographers hold some responsibility as well. And there are photographers working with furry, albeit less closely and less personally than Broadbent, who fail to treat the community with a reasonable amount of respect.
One of those is Arthur Drooker, who is due to publish a book titled Conventional Wisdom sometime next year.
Drooker’s photos come from Anthrocon 2014. He worked with the full knowledge of the convention organizers, and the consent of his subjects. However pretty obviously his goal is to show up the furries as “outsiders”, a curiosity to be observed. His work at other conventions—including Bronycon and Fetish Con—has a similar vibe.
Drooker’s work isn’t dishonest but it wilfully fails to put furries into any sort of humanizing context. His photographs furries as if they were like exhibits at a zoo, to be gawked at, shocking for being unexpected and different. He makes no attempt to respect or understand the furry community.
Tom Broadbent is one of those people who helps present furry for what it is, rather than what is most salacious. His interest in our community was driven by his desire to find interesting subjects to photograph, but his obvious care means that he is working for the furry community, rather than merely with the furry community.
In a recent talk, Broadbent noted that several people had their interest piqued by his published work, ultimately leading them to discover the furry community and identify as furries themselves. It’s hard to imagine a better introduction to furry. We should be thankful for the Tom Broadbents of the world.
You can see more from At Home With The Furries here.