Animal-loving photographer creates surreal art to save shelter pets

Sarolta Bán's photo of a shelter dog
Sarolta Bán

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By Alesandra Dubin

Photographer Sarolta Bán cites this image of a dog basking in moon glow as her personal favorite of all time, “because my sister will soon give birth to her first child and they have this picture in their bedroom,” she told

If you’ve ever visited an animal shelter, you know the helpless feeling that comes from wanting to spring every last pet from its cage and pair it with the forever home it deserves.

Well, Hungarian photographer Sarolta Bán has more than just a frustrated desire to help: She’s got a plan. She creates fantastical, serene — even surreal — images of shelter animals all over the world in an effort to help them get adopted.

Black cats seem to take on a mystical quality in this evocative landscape.Today

Bán , 31, collects images of shelter animals across the globe and creates unique images of them in special settings — helping would-be adopters get a glimpse of the animals’ magical essences, rather than their sad and shabby shelter surroundings. (Her latest photo project, under way now, will be inspired by these pooches and kitties.) 

“I feel this is the way I can help shelter animals,” Bán told “I work with photo montages — that’s what I do every day — and I hope I can help to give them exposure through my Facebook page as well.”

She explains her approach in more detail on her Facebook page, which has more than 110,00 fans: “Abandoned dogs sadly have really few chances to appear on a photo that will help them get out of the shelter. A photo that stands out from the crowd, and speaks to a person.”

She said the response to her work has been overwhelming — and productive. “I’m truly honored that so many people around the world liked it and lot of them wrote me that they are going to shelters to take photos," Bán said. "The project gave ideas to others to help too, which is amazing.”

And that’s not all she does for the lucky pets: Bán also gives copies of her artwork to the people who adopt the animals in the pictures. A beautiful piece of art and a best friend for life? That’s what we call a major win-win.

This curious pup appears to explore a giant key fallen from above.This curious pup appears to explore a giant key fallen from above. / Today
A child takes a ride on a huge, cuddly dog in this image that plays with scale.Today
The artist hopes that images like this one, which shows a dog serenely playing with a butterfly, will help show would-be adopters the true potential of shelter animals.Today
A shelter cat and dog ponder the passing of time in this image.Today
A shelter dog is a sweet sign of life atop an abandoned car in this barren landscape.Today

Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer and the founder of home and travel blog Homebody in Motion. Follow her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.