I recently shared the story of fashion photographer extraordinaire, Richard Phibbs, focusing his lens on the plight of shelter animals. Having now had the good fortune to spend a day with Phibbs, his crew and the NY shelter staff- who he very accurately described as amazing- I'm here to share my account of 'shelter runway shoot part deux'... That's French for ‘part two’... I thought some French lingo might be more fitting in reference to such a high brow event!
What an amazing day it was- made extra special by the 2, 3 and 4 legged souls who took part! Everyone’s commitment to the animals made a seemingly tough task go as smoothly as the fur on a cat's nose!
Phibbs transformation of a tiny exam room into a pop up 'cat walk' wasn't the only demonstration of a resourceful approach to maximizing space! The Humane Society of NY- including it's busy walk-in veterinary clinic- occupies a narrow 5 floor building in midtown Manhattan.
The staff and shelter volunteers make efficient use of every inch they have. And they do so with a mind towards making the animal residents as comfortable as possible while they await adoption into a loving home.
What I found most notable about the staff and volunteers was their positive attitude and willingness to go the extra mile for the critters. Sadly this kind of spirit can be hard to maintain amidst the gravity of the pet overpopulation crisis. But there was no lack of hope running through the veins of these dedicated Manhattan professionals.
Phibbs and his crew mirrored the staff’s dedication as they rolled on the shelter floor with squeeky toys to get the best angle for a shot of their furry muse! Phibbs kept the shoot on a steady pace in an effort to photograph as many needy faces as he could. Changing lighting and lenses was punctuated by calls from couture designers and top selling magazine editors competing to schedule Phibbs for a heavy hitting project!
Witnessing Phibbs and his crew devote equal effort to the shelter and it’s animals - clients who couldn't even begin to generate the kind of fees Phibbs talent commands... told the story best. If anyone needed Phibb’s caliber of PR and an eye towards revealing a soul’s inner beauty- it was the loyal animals who had suffered from their human’s misfortunes. These former family pets needed a head shot and a good publicist –Phibbs provided both.
These are the moments that define a person. Like Phibbs, we each must retain some perspective on things that matter if we are to fulfill our fullest potential.
On behalf or the animals at The Humane Society of New York, and those in shelters everywhere... I extend heartfelt gratitude to Richard Phibbs and his crew.
Having been granted this very special 'snapshot' of one man’s dedication, leaves me with a renewed commitment to our fellow creatures. Thousands of worthy companions go unseen each and every day in our nation's shelters . They urgently need us to apply our respective talents to their plight- their lives depend on it. Only then will they get a chance to receive the love they so deserve.
Let's follow Phibb's example and join forces to get these loyal souls seen and saved.
Dr. Pia Salk