In a sense, the network of fans and supporters that she has gained online is an extension of what happens every day when she walks her dogs in her neighborhood in Whidbey Island, Washington.
"People are just always stopping to talk about our dog," Stasha says. "We've probably made more friends in the neighborhood through our dog than we have on our own."
Did you know it’s especially hard to get a great photo of black dogs and cats? That’s because they soak up more light than other pets. Stasha has found that photographing Max in front of their white garage helps him stand out.
Max, her family's black Newfoundland, has been an inspiration since even before her 5-year-old son Julian was born. They brought him into their lives after Stasha became pregnant with Julian, thinking that caring for him would help teach them how to be parents. But as soon as Julian was born, Max ended up becoming both an extra parent and a brother figure to the only child, always keeping Julian within his vision and comforting the child with his presence as he learned to sleep in his new bed when the family moved.
You might remember one famous Newfoundland in culture – Nana the Newfoundland who took care of the children in Peter Pan. Nana’s caring personality is typical of the breed . Newfoundlands are known for their calm temperament and sweet personalities. That might be one reason why they’re great with kids.
"If Julian ever gets in trouble, he'll go and cuddle up with Max, so he thinks that Max will protect him even when his mommy gives him a punishment," Stasha laughs.
On their many days together on the island, Max has helped inspire the mother and son to connect over a love for photography. It started as a simple habit of posing for a picture in front of the garage before leaving the house, and eventually became a habit that drew in fans from all over the world.
Stasha and Julian like to send the photos to Stasha's husband and Julian’s father, Jason, while he's off at work for the Navy.
"He'll look at it, and he's like ‘What are you guys doing? Why is my dog wearing a pineapple on his head?’" Stasha laughs.
She believes pets help tell a unique story that brings out creativity. Why?
"First of all we love them. We love them unconditionally, and they love us back. It's easy to capture that when you take a picture of your pet," she explains. "It's just like moms and children as well."
This love for Max, she says, has helped her son gain the confidence to start taking photos with his own iPod.
"Whenever he's taking a picture he incorporates Max because he plays a huge role in his life,” she says.
In Stasha’s eyes, life is made up of many simple, happy moments, filled with hikes, playing dress up and hanging out with our loved ones, human and pet alike. Photography is just one way to capture all that happiness.