I spent the weekend in New York photographing dogs for 'When Dogs Heal' - the project I've been working on for the past year with Fred Says. Fred Says (run by a favorite old client of mine) is a non profit organization that funds youth HIV research, education and medical services and is driven by the most adorable tiny Yorkie named Fred. As the face of the organization, Fred allows people to see a softer side of the HIV epidemic, moving aside stigma and replacing it with adoprable dog photos. In turn, Fred Says is able to raise and donate tens of thousands of dollars every year to HIV youth support. 'When Dogs Heal' is an off-shoot of Fred Says pairing emotional portraits of people living with HIV and AIDS and their animal companions with moving first-person accounts of how their dogs have literally kept them alive. It's a project that has been a priority in my schedule for the past year simply because I believe so whole heartedly that the issue of HIV/AIDS has been swept under the rug after so many years in the spotlight. Yet there is still no cure. People continue to die, and people continue to get infected at a frighteningly high rate. Bringing any exposure to the issue and keeping the conversation going means helping people stay alive. And for that reason, When Dogs Heal is so important to me.
On top of that, as I move forward in my career and make some changes in my work I have come to realize that all my photography- whether it is work for a private client, or work for a book, or work for an editorial piece or simply a personal side project- is getting more and more focused on the healing aspects of the dog/human bond. Through photographing relationships between humans and their dogs, I am getting deeper and deeper into the psychological threads of the history of dog portraiture. And it is completely fascinating.
When Dogs Heal will debut with a multi-city exhibit around World AIDS Day in December 2015. More info will be available about this amazing project once our website launches (soon…!!) For now, here are some behind-the-scenes shots of this weekend's studio session in New York. And a recent image from the last San Francisco shoot as well.