Community, Photography


In her photo essay “Black Series,” animal activist Emma O’Brien sheds light on the true beauty of black dogs.



Emma O’Brien reveals warmth and heart in the dogs of “Black Series,” a collection of photographs that captures the essence of these under-adopted hounds. As a shelter dog advocate, O’Brien is always looking for ways to creatively encourage people to take home a pup in need, particularly ones that are given a bad rap for the colour of their coat. “I’m very aware of the problem of black dog syndrome,” she says. Abbreviated as BBD (big black dog), it’s a global predicament in which their forbidding hue is seen as a bad omen, or just aesthetically too plain. “Coupled with the fact that people often find black dogs difficult to photograph, I felt this project would be a great way to draw attention to the problem.”

The subjects had already been adopted when they sat for O’Brien’s camera, each one brought in by their forever owner. Through her lens she sheds light on their outer beauty while imaginative descriptions speak of their inner persona. There’s Lena, a part-time therapist; Casper, an older gent who likes the finer things in life and insists on silk sheets; and Bentley, a closet Madonna fan. “I made a point of photographing the dogs close up, focusing on the unique detail of their faces and capturing them with eyes to camera,” she says, “so that people viewing the images can look directly into their souls, connect with them as individual creatures rather than ‘just a dog.’”

All images courtesy of Emma O’Brien



A heartfelt thank you to all the photographers, artists, illustrators, and writers who trusted us, dived in, and brought us delight, grace, excitement, courage, wilderness, and wonder over the last five years. Their work not only reflects the bonds we share with our animal companions, it also celebrates their spirit.

None of this would be possible without our four-legged counterparts who sprinkle magic dust time and time again, and our readers, who embraced this kooky idea, rallied around us, and made this world theirs too. With friends like these, who needs nine lives?


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