Making its start as a wildly popular Tumblr blog, the “Black Dogs Project” was created by Massachusetts-based portrait photographer Fred Levy. The goal of Levy’s project is to bring to light the reality of black dog syndrome, which is an observance that black dogs tend to always be adopted last from shelters. Now made into an inspiring hardbound photo book, I’d like to share some of my favorite cute doggy photos from “The Black Dogs Project” and give an overview of the charming stories within.
The images captured by Levy and printed onto the pages of this photo book are absolutely superb. You couldn’t ask for better quality work when it comes to photographing these beautiful black dogs. Beyond the very apparent exceptional talent for lighting black subjects on black seamless, the poses and expressions of these cuddly companions are spot-on fitting for the short stories accompanied by each portrait. There’s an embracement of what it is we all love about dogs shown in Levy’s images, that is to say these photos don’t shy away from displaying dogs as their beloved silly, dopey, slobbery, gentle, noble, and devoted selves. While I’m sure it was well within Levy’s power to photograph all these dogs presenting them as bold stoic heroes, I appreciate each dog’s true character was allowed to shine when the camera clicked.
As mentioned above, each pup’s portrait is set next to a short story written by the respective owners. Honestly, I’m really impressed at how well these people are able to write such engaging descriptions and little musings about their furry best friend. Typically, each story is set up starting with how the dog’s owner first came to meet their new companion and then it leads into a heartwarming or funny example of where that relationship headed once they became friends for life. As a coffee table book, the length and setup of each dog’s story is perfect for getting in a few adorable stories here and there when you have a little spare time. If you’re an animal lover, you may be tempted to read through as much as you can in one sitting. I’m warning you, however, that you’ll be in for one emotional roller coaster that will probably leave you annoying your own pet with non-stop hugs and attention — this was my experience, anyways. Emotionally, it’s kind of like “Denali” in book form.
The physical quality and print work of the hardbound book is also really nice. After Levy spent all that time getting these photographs lit and exposed with a masterful attention to detail, it certainly would be a shame to have the printed outcome not hold those subtle details in the dark tones that make up a major part of his work. Race Point Publishing did an excellent job here in working with Levy’s delicate portraiture. The printing and materials used keeps each image very sharp. Under the smooth dust cover you’ll find highly appropriate black on black printing of the title on front and spine.
From the project’s initial inception, to the success of its Tumblr blog, and now to the printed presentation of the “Black Dogs Project” photo book, Fred Levy has created something that deserves our respect as photographers. He found something that was both personally important to him and that he also recognized as an assignment that he could contribute his talents to and help with.
“The Black Dogs Project” is available now through local bookstores and Amazon with a portion of all proceeds being donated to black dog rescue. (Tip: The big holiday season is around the corner and I’m sure you know an animal lover that would love this book.)
Lead: Lexi, Labrador Mix - Photo by Fred Levy. All images used with permission.