New York based commercial photographer Shaina Fishman specializes in photographing domestic animals.

Last year, she was doing casting for a canine photoshoot and noticed she was receiving a lot of submissions for black dogs. “I told one individual that her dog wouldn’t work out for this project because the client didn’t want black dogs,” says Shaina. “She responded saying that was really unfortunate because black dogs have a bad reputation and are the last to be adopted from shelters.” This problem, commonly known as Black Dog Syndrome, inspired Shaina to create a project to promote the underappreciated beauty of black canines.

Across North America, black dogs have a high rate of euthanasia. But this phenomenon has less to do with their color, and more to do with the fact that taking a good picture of a black dog is a challenging task. “Shelter staff are not always equipped to take great photos of the animals,” she says. “Black dogs can be hard to photograph if the camera settings are not right or the photo is not exposed correctly.” Shaina compares the online animal adoption process to online dating, claiming that if the photo isn’t great, people often won’t click to read more.

Inspired to break down the stigma surrounding black dogs, Shaina partnered with Sarah Brasky, Executive Director of Foster Dogs NYC. She’d worked with Sarah in the past, and enjoyed supporting such a great cause. “I wanted to make this a collaboration to promote the work she is doing,” says Shaina. “She is also an owner of a black dog that she rescued as a puppy.” Sarah helped recruit fourteen black rescue dogs to participate in the black dogs photo project – and the results were breathtaking.

Shaina Fishman

Shaina Fishman

Shaina Fishman

Since they released the photos earlier this month, Shaina and Sarah have received plenty of positive feedback – especially from people who have black rescue dogs. “They are delighted that we’re bringing awareness to the issue,” says Shaina. “If people are aware of the issue maybe they will go into a shelter with that knowledge and give a black dog an extra look, or specifically seek out a black dog.”

Though Shaina currently has multiple assignments on the go, she plans to create another photo project featuring black cats. “Originally I had photographed a few cats to include in the series but decided to focus this one just on dogs,” she says. “I love photographing black cats so it’s very possible you might see that series.” In the meantime, The Black Dog project can be viewed on Shaina’s website and Instagram feed, and prints from the series are currently available to raise funds for Foster Dogs NYC.

Start your search for a black dog on fosterdogsnyc.com or at your local shelter.

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