Do you ever feel like a certain topic keeps coming up in your daily life? Well recently photography is the one that keeps coming to my attention- both as an art form overall, and with regard to how it can help save the lives of shelter animals specifically.
First, it was the photography in The Unexpected Pit Bull Calendar I mentioned a few weeks back. From there I learned of HeARTs Speak, an amazing organization of artists committed to helping animals - join!
Then, on a recent trip with some friends and our dogs, I was bitten by the photography bug myself - so much so, that I began barking lingo at everyone as though I was a professional photographer..."People! People! Focus...Work with me...I'm losing light...losing light here folks "
Upon my return, a friend contacted me about renowned photographer, Richard Phibbs, who recently volunteered his time to help shelter animals in New York. Armed with the eye of an artist and the heart of a true advocate, Phibbs set out to apply his talent to a worthy cause...or in this case, 12 worthy causes...
Father of rescued pooch Huck (see gallery above), Phibbs regulary snaps portraits of celebrities like Toby Maguire, Moby, and Anderson Cooper (also animal advocates, by the way) to name a few. But for Phibbs, his day at the Humane Society of New York proved to be one of the most rewarding yet. Here is what he had to say about it first hand...
"A friend sent me a video about a fellow photographer, Teresa Berg (a member of HeARTs Speak), who helped a rescue group by taking more appealing pictures of the dogs and suddenly adoption success increased significantly. I contacted her and she completely inspired me to do the same."
"I am always wanting to take a picture that does more than sell clothes of promote someone's acting career...Teresa's idea spoke to me. In my travels around the world I am constantly shocked at the volume of suffering of animals on our planet."
Shelter staff worked with Phibbs to create a little studio out of an examination room. Some squeeky toys, a tie and a few scarves, helped Richard interact with the animals and discover what qualities made them each special and unique.
With regard to the experience Phibbs said, "It brought about all sorts of feelings. I had some fear walking in but then was inspired by the wonderful people that work there. The animals we photographed that day were the more difficult ones to place as many have special needs. Each of them was so different and special. A few of the dogs were blind and I felt particular compassion for those pups."
Richard Phibbs eloquently summed up his experience, "With each unique animal I photographed one sees the best of humanity - the people that work tirelessly at the shelter- and the the worst of humanity- the unevolved people who once abused, neglected or abandoned their animal friend."
Phibb's wanted to, "...Shed light on how beautiful and valuable shelter animals are- they should be coveted and honored. Shelter animals are not damaged goods- they are rather unique and can be wonderful additions to you family if you give them a chance."
Phibbs adds, "For me personally, my dog reminds me daily to smell the air." Phibbs hopes his efforts will help to both secure homes for the animals he met that day, as well as to educate others on the plight of shelter animals overall.
Please join me is spreading the word and sharing his photographs. Each and every one in today's gallery is still waiting for a loving home as you read this!
Perhaps our efforts will land Phibbs the honor of photographing them each with a new backdrop - a loving adoptive family! That way he'd get to witness his success in helping others to see these souls as he sees them...perfect little masterpieces...in every way.
Dr. Pia Salk
And spread the word!