Earlier this year, New York-based photographer Shaina Fishman was casting canine talent for another job and had the unfortunate task of turning down multiple submissions of black dogs to conform to the client’s casting specifications: “No Black Dogs.”
One of these dog owners lamented the fact that black dogs get such a bad reputation – Black Dog Syndrome – which inspired Shaina to make a personal project of black dog portraits.
It was a personal project that also had a mission to make people aware of the problem. A PSA of sorts to bring awareness.
Because the process of casting dogs is so time-consuming, Shaina decided to go right to the source: Foster Dogs, a New York non-profit created to encourage short-term fostering as an alternative to open admission shelters. Sarah Brasky, Founder of Foster Dogs, had collaborated with Shaina in the past and was happy to help with casting and scheduling the dogs.
As an animal specialist, Shaina has learned a few tricks about producing animal shoots. One key piece of advice is to keep things simple.
The hardest part of shoots are keeping people focused. Everyone wanted to play with the dogs especially the puppies. When the 5 black puppies came into the studio no one wanted to work. The video guy was on the floor covered in puppies. Everyone wants a selfie with the dogs!
On the shoot day, simplicity was, indeed, the key. With only 45 minutes scheduled per dog, it was sometimes difficult to establish rapport with the animal and keep it comfortable in a studio setting. To add another layer of complexity, Shaina also took video footage to accompany the portraits.
The black Pomeranian was very timid and I only shot about 10 frames, but it’s one of my favorite shots of the project.
Many people contacted me saying how great it was that I was bringing awareness to this issue. They contacted me with stories of the black dog that had been adopted. One individual contacted me letting me know that she was considering adopting one of the black puppies … once she saw the group picture she was convinced.
See more of Shaina at shainafishman.com!