Rabbits come in many shapes, sizes and colors -- and so do their breeders
Katya Rezvaya took portraits of them at a convention last year in Oregon
Last year, Katya Rezvaya went to a rabbit-breeders convention in Portland, Oregon. But unlike most there, she went with cameras in hand, not rabbits.
In fact, she doesn’t even have a rabbit. She has always liked them, though, and after watching a documentary called “Rabbit Fever,” she was amazed at how grand in scale the rabbit breeding community is.
The documentary showcases a national convention held by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, whose annual event brings together more than 20,000 rabbits as they compete for prizes.
Rezvaya wanted to learn about the kinds of people she saw in “Rabbit Fever,” and she thought she’d go to one of the conventions and make portraits of the people there.
“My impression was, ‘Oh my God, so many rabbits,’ ” Rezvaya recalled. “I don’t know what I was expecting when I was going there, because this idea was totally unpredictable.”
The convention was held in a big expo center, where Rezvaya set up a studio. She started by simply approaching people she was interested in photographing. But as the five-day event progressed, people heard about the woman making portraits, and they started to approach her.
“What was interesting for me is that, for this convention, I really felt that there were people from all over America,” Rezvaya said.
She was also amused by some of the names people gave their rabbits – names like Snickers, Captain Adorable and Pat Benatar.
One rabbit breed, Dwarf Hotots, look like they’re wearing black eyeliner because of the ring of black fur around their eyes. So Peyton Brackenbury, 12, named hers by eyeliner brands such as Maybelline and Unique.
There are many different rabbit breeds that vary in size, shape and color. Marcus Rhoden’s fluffy Felicia, in photo No. 10, is an English Angora.
“There was a section in the building with this breed,” Rezvaya said. “There were a lot of people … they were always busy with their rabbits because they always had to brush them or something.”
There were some really large rabbits, too. Daniel and Susan Hathaway’s furry friends Defiance and Enterprise – in the fourth photo above – each weigh about 16 pounds. They’re Flemish Giants, one of the largest rabbit breeds.
“Susan is a really, really small woman and the rabbit is about 7 kilograms (15.4 pounds). It’s huge,” Rezvaya said. “She had to bring the rabbit on a cart to my place because it was like a 10-minute walk from one side of the building to another.”
Although she has never had a rabbit, Rezvaya says if she were to get one, she would probably get a Dwarf Hotot like little Ozwald in photo No. 11. “They are really cute,” she said.
Rezvaya calls her photo series “Oh My Rabbits” and feels portraits were the best and most enjoyable way for her to find out more about the rabbit-breeding community. Her photographs capture just how diverse the community is.
“I can’t even say something particular about who rabbit breeders are,” she said.
Katya Rezvaya is a photographer based in St. Petersburg, Russia. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.