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)