Charity photoshoot day held in park for Hackney pooches and their owners

Nina Sologubenko

Nina Sologubenko - Credit: Archant

Dog owners ready for their close-up are invited to participate in a charity fundraiser next week in Victoria Park.

Professional photographer Nina Sologubenko will take ‘pawtraits’ of local dog owners and their four-legged companions on Saturday on behalf of Pets As Therapy, which brings friendly dogs and cats to half a million hospital bedsides every year.

Nina, 32, of Roman Road, Bethnal Green, said: “I love how much Brits treasure their pets. We evolved to have a special and close connection with animals and I couldn’t live in a country with a different attitude.”

The Ukrainian-born photographer moved to London aged nine. She said: “I’ve lived in East London for two and a half years now and can’t imagine living anywhere else.

“I’ve enjoyed taking photographs since I was a teenager but it was always a hobby. I didn’t dare dream that I could make a living out of it.”

At 26, Nina was struck by a car while crossing the road on a Moscow business trip. She broke her shoulder, clavicle and knee – which needed a metal plate inserted – and was air-lifted to the UK some days later, where she received treatment at the Royal London Hospital.

She said: “The road accident gave me a new perspective on things and I decided that it was now or never – I didn’t want to get old age and regret not having tried to make a go of being a professional photographer. I quit my then-job, did a degree in photography and have been running my own business since.”

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Nina has now been a full-time photographer for over three years, and specialises in documentary, portraiture, performance and architecture.

It was after three weeks in hospital that she became aware through a friend of Pets As Therapy. Founded in 1983, the charity brings specially-selected dogs and cats into hospitals, hospices and nursing homes.

It is believed that talking to and cuddling the animals has a positive, healing effect on people at a difficult time of their lives. To date, over 28,000 dogs and their volunteer owners have been registered with the scheme.

Pets As Therapy (PAT) also provides a literacy scheme, Read2Dogs. Children who are stressed or shy about learning to read can do so by reading to an all-ears PAT dog.

Nina added: “I have always wanted to do something for people in hospital or similar situations for long periods of time. I am also a huge dog and animal lover – I grew up with a red dachshund called Baguette – so really understand the amazing effect animals have on people.

“I was really moved when I heard about Pets As Therapy and decided to use my professional skills to raise money and awareness of what they do.”

Nina will be raising money for the charity in partnership with Hackney-based dog-walkers and pet-sitters Dog Villas, on Saturday 8 November, 10am-2pm at The Hub in Victoria Park.

The suggested donation for a 15-minute photo session is £20. High-quality prints will be available for collection at a later date, or sent by post or email.

There will also be dog activities, treats and a raffle boasting prizes from Dog Villas, as well as from sponsors Lauriston Pub, The Bottle Apostle wine shop and Beautiful Joe’s Ethical Dog Treats. The event is also sponsored by family-run Honey’s Real Dog Food.

Click here to donate or email to book your slot.

For more about Pets as Therapy, or to register as a volunteer dog or cat owner, visit