Raw, Emotional Photographs Of Shelter Dogs Are Unlike Any You’ve Ever Seen

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Recently, we have featured the work of artists like Douglas Sonders and Fred Levy, who photograph dogs as a means of advocating for the voiceless and promoting awareness about animal rescue. With the “Rescue Me” project, the photographer Brian Moss occupies a unique space in this dialogue; in contrast with the polished, slightly commercial aesthetic of other animal portraits, his photographs of shelter dogs are emotionally raw and candid, delving more deeply into the psychology of his canine subjects.

Moss’s photographic setting is the Bergen County Protect & Rescue Foundation shelter, where he arranges a poignantly modest and “tiny ‘studio tableaux’ […] in between a sink and a leaky washing machine.” Shot under a relatively shallow depth of field, this magical little corner becomes all the more intimate; as well-worn towels and tender, raggedy blankets blur into the distance, the dog subject is fixed with stunning sharpness, revealing the touching imperfections of the face: eye gunk, snouts rubbed raw, noses flushed with pink.

Moss’s project was born from necessity; he felt for the animals left homeless, and yet it was too painful for him to volunteer at a kill shelter. This shoot, which takes place at a no-kill facility, is his tribute to the creatures he longs to help. The honest gaze of the artist’s images are reminiscent of his earlier project with body builders; here too, he seeks out a genuine connection with his subjects. The dogs aren’t posed to appease to viewer or to elicit less emotion, but instead they are free to express their inner fears with darting eyes, unsteady legs, and perked ears. Rich with empathy, Moss’s lens offers rare and invaluable insight into the hearts of our fellow creatures. Take a look. (via Lost at E Minor)

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Poignant Photographs Of Dogs Denied Homes And Unfairly Judged As “Bullies”

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When the photographer Douglas Sonders met Emma, a Pit Bull, black Labrador mix, he was touched by her gentle disposition and knew he had to take her home. With his ongoing personal project Not A Bully, the artist hopes to change public perception about so-called “bully dogs,” breeds like Pit Bulls, Boxers, Rottweilers, French Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers, who together make up 40% of shelter dogs.

Tests by the American Temperament Tests Society conducted in 2009 displayed excellent behavior and tenderness on the parts of these breeds, and yet unfair prejudice continues to cloud the judgement of adoptive families, and many dogs go without finding a permanent, loving home. Emma, for instance, was nearly put down and subsequently went nine months in the foster-care system before finding Sonders.

Through a series of poignant images, Not A Bully hopes to change all that. Sonder’s canine portraits are shot with the same careful reverence displayed in his commercial and editorial captures of celebrities; seen in high resolution and saturated in rich color, the animals are desperately emotive. Personalities shine through expectant eyes and eager tongues; the dogs pant excitedly, peer curiously at the viewer. Set against the most brilliant black fur, radiant topaz eyes shine bright, and chests perk up at attention, revealing soft and tender patches of white fur. Similarly, heads bow down slightly below the center of the frame in a show of trepidation and approval-seeking. These deeply-feeling creatures—capable of joy, fear, wit, and wisdom— are clearly anything but bullies. (via My Modern Met)

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Emotional Portraits Of Black Dogs Who Are Often Left Out Of Adoption

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Dogs of all shapes and sizes have hearts of gold, and yet it’s said that black dogs are routinely ignored and denied adoption based on the color of their silky fur. The photographer Fred Levy hopes to shatter negative stereotypes about the dark hued animals, perpetuated throughout our culture perhaps by the ominous depictions of the creatures in media, with the Black Dog Project. Capturing furry friends ranging in age and experience, the artist pins his regal subjects against a black backdrop, narrating a poignant story of canine love and courage.

Set against the soft darkness behind them, the animals appear lonesome and curious. Presumably told to sit for the shot, they cock their heads, let drop their downy ears, and look to the viewer for approval. The moving, miraculous tension in the animals’ bodies recalls the ever-willing canine anticipation the blessed “come,” a nod of recognition, an offer of affection, a release from being alone.

Levy’s stunning lighting records the nuances of the black fur, celebrating the shade that is so often overlooked; the silky stands catch the light in such a way that haloes their faces, gives heavenly, royal meaning to their curved backs and furrowed brows. Levy maintains each subject’s rich personality; the wizened senior Faith perks up her ears, and the therapy dog Max patiently holds our gaze with intent amber eyes.

Says Levy of the project, “I’ve found that it’s really important to share the idea that there are always so many dogs in need of a good safe home, regardless of what the dog looks like […] Maybe someone will see this and consider the gravity of owning a pet, no matter what color it is.” To learn more about the Black Dogs Project, check here, and take a look at some of the enchanting photos below. (via Huffington Post and Design Taxi)

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