Charlotte Dumas attended the Rietveld Academie of Amsterdam from 1996-2000 and later studied as a resident at the Rijksacademy for visual Arts in Amsterdam from 2001-2002. Dumas photographs animals using her 80 mm lens with medium format film to reveal the complex relationship between her animal subjects and her human viewers.
In all of her studies of animals, Charlotte Dumas highlights the intricacies of the relationship between humans and their mammalian animal counterparts, creating an intimate feeling between the viewer and her depictions of horses and dogs while distancing the viewer from the more dangerous subjects of the wolf and tiger. In each of her projects, Dumas inspires her viewers to sympathize with the ever-caged animal, entrapped in a world dominated by the supreme mammal-human.
In 2002, Dumas completed her first major project entitled Four Horses, in which she photographed four working police horses in Rotterdam. This project served to inspire her next series of photographs in 2004, Day is Done, in which she photographed horses from the Carabinieri a Cavallo in Rome. Dumas returned to the subject of horses once again in 2006, photographing race horses in Palermo in the series Palermo 7.
In 2005, Charlotte Dumas shifted her focus to the subject of wolves, travelling to Norway and Sweden to create portraits of the majestic canines in her series Reverie. Despite her close proximity to the wolves in her photographs, Dumas reveals the vast distance between the world of humans and wolves as her photographs portray the wolf as an enigmatic, imperceptible being.
Dumas traveled to the United States to create her series of tiger portraits entitled Tiger, Tiger in 2007, photographing tigers within the confines of zoos, parks, and sanctuaries, in Indiana and Texas. This project explores the dual role of the sanctuary as it restricts the animal from its natural habitat as well as protects it from extinction. For the projects, Heart-Shaped Hole (2008) and Heart of a Dog (2009), Dumas photographed stray dogs in Palermo and New York City, shedding light on the plight of strays amidst the chaos of the urban environment.
In 2011, Dumas set out to photograph fifteen of the remaining search and rescue dogs deployed by FEMA to the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Ten years after the terrorist attacks Dumas located the dogs with the help of FEMA and photographed them in their homes where they still live with their handlers across the United States. The resulting series, Retrieved Dumas states, "These animals were all at the same place at the same time, one decade ago for the same reason: to work. That experience unites them, and was the incentive for me to pursue this subject and to photograph the dogs. They now share the vulnerability of old age while symbolizing a full decade coming to a close".
Dumas continues her exploration of the service animal in her most recent series, Anima, by photographing the burial horses of the Arlington National Cemetery. These intensely personal portraits of draft horses that serve the 3rd Infantry Regiment, known as the Old Guard, reveal a powerful human connection to these honored animals.