When he’s not shooting portraits of Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lopez, Bradly Cooper and other super celebs or gallivanting around the world documenting life through his stunning travel pictures, Richard Phibbs is giving back to the animal world. He’s the go-to photographer for the Humane Society of New York.
“By volunteering at the Humane Society of New York and taking these portraits of animals in need, I feel like I am at least trying to do my part,” says the renowned photographer.
With a mission to get these dogs (and cats) homes, the images are captivating – with the hope of igniting a curiosity within potential adopters.
Shot against a clean white background, the startling photos make it hard not to focus on the animal’s eyes, see into their soul, pick up on subtle emotions or feel the connection Phibbs forms with the dog from behind the lens.
“I believe in the power of photography, and its ability to speak the truth,” Phibbs tell us and also states on Instagram. “These portraits not only help facilitate the adoption process but they also give each animal the dignity that all living beings deserve. These portraits are stories of hope.”
Phibbs first photo shoot with the HSNY was in the winter of 2011.
He was drawn to the organization, as he believes it’s an outstanding example of a humane animal shelter providing many services to New Yorkers and their pets. “It is a no-kill shelter that is full of compassion, and the people that work there inspire me,” he tells us.
Besides supporting a cause he believes in, the passion project fulfills an internal desire to help those in need. Phibbs has been fortunate enough to travel all around the world for clients, shot covers for the likes of Vanity Fair, ESPN and Paper magazine and worked on campaigns for Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. Despite having a career many dream of, he sees animal abuse, neglect and homelessness everywhere — exotic locations included.
“I see animals dying or about to die, as they have been injured or have horrible infections or diseases. I can never walk by suffering animal without trying to help,” he says and adds that by volunteering at the Humane Society of New York, he is doing his part. “I feel that when I go there [HSYNY] to take portraits of animals in need I am actually taking a picture that does some good and that will end some suffering.”
His photographs have been viewed all around the world and have encouraged other shelters to profile their animals in need — using a similar style as Phibbs’ — to increase the likelihood they will get adopted.
While Phibbs finds a great cause in his work at the HSNY, the takeaway of rationalizing why the animals are there can often be difficult.
“I always say that when I go to the Humane Society of New York I see the best of humanity and the worst of humanity,” says Phibbs, describing the relentless work of staff and volunteers juxtaposed with the animals who are there because of human neglect, cruelty and irresponsibility.
Unlike some of Phibbs’ other work, he does not choose the subjects, nor is there editing involved. “If an animal needs a home then I will take its portrait,” he says.
Phibbs’ portfolio as a photographer is vast. He is a man who loves what he does and will be soon launching a book of children and dogs called Rescue Me to showcase his talents.
“If I can take a picture that actually does something meaningful and powerful then it brings all the more joy and satisfaction to me,” he says.
Main image via Richard Phibbs. To see more of his work, follow him on Instagram.