Fred Levy was at a dog park with his dog in the summer 2013 when a women mentioned to him that black dogs have a harder time getting adopted than other dogs.
“I had heard about this with cats, but no dogs,” Levy says in a blog post. “I thought it was interesting, and sad.”
Being a photographer, he always carried his camera with him to the dog park. That day, he happened to be looking for a new project.
“Everyone who owns a black dog knows how hard it is to photograph them,” he continues. “They often get lost or turn into black blobs. As I thought about this challenge, I came up with the Black Dogs Project.”
He decided to photograph them against a black background, for two reasons.
“One was the challenge of photographing a difficult subject in my small studio–I would have to make sure that I had all the lighting right and placed to light my subject but not the backdrop,” he says. “The second was the chance to show how beautiful black dogs can be and that it’s not impossible to get great photos with the right lighting.”
What he wasn’t expecting, was the reaction. It took him five days to respond to our request for an interview, because he is overwhelmed with requests.
“I have been swamped with emails and phone calls from people all over the world asking about the project, wanting to be included and showing support for what is a very widespread, yet not well-known issue,” Levy explains. “When I started, I had no idea how extensive it really is and I’m still in awe of how far-reaching Black Dog Syndrome is.”
Why the Stigma?
Levy has been asked by many people why black dogs have a harder time getting adopted. He believes it’s several things, including not photographing well for adoption photos online and belief they are bad luck or aggressive.
“Education is the key to dispelling these types of stereotypes,” he believes. “Though I don’t have all the answers to solve this problem, I encourage all pet photographers to work with a local shelter and help them get better photos of their adoptable dogs. I know it makes a huge difference in placing dogs into good homes. I’m hoping that this project creates lasting awareness, not just a fad to adopt black dogs. The way I see it, the more we can do to educate people about good pet ownership, the better it is for all pets, no matter what they look like.”
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Image source: The Black Dogs Project
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