I should preface this post with an unavoidable statement : I LOVE LOVE LOVE animals. They are my chosen cause, my absolute heart, & yep – I’m one of those crazy people who adores my three pets as my children. That being said, the last thing I want to be here is preachy about anything, because photographing pets for my local humane society is one of the most fun, & rewarding projects I’ve been a part of since I’ve moved to Colorado.
Did you know that almost every animal shelter needs help with photography for their animals? Times have changed from the days of prospective pet parents taking a very thoughtful trip to the humane society where they’d walk by the kennels, meet big brown eyes, & feel their hearts melt. Nowadays, these same future parents can search on a website, scrolling along hundreds of photos in hopes to virtually “connect” with an animal’s “mugshot” in just seconds.
I never knew until I started volunteering for the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, that 95% of the photos on the website are snapped in haste the moment the animal arrives at the shelter. This means that whatever terrifying journey the animal had been through would be written all over their face & posture. With one click, they’ll represent a false nature to the world on the shelter’s site. This is where anyone, regardless of whether you have a point & shoot or a fancy DSLR, can step in and change the world. YES, I just said that! It is a small world, after all – and you can save animals one life at a time with a great photograph. You’ll probably save the human in many ways too – it’s true!
We usually spend 3-4 hours on a Sunday, in a little room we’ve set up at the shelter with makeshift can lights. We hope to shoot up to 10 cats (it’s very strange how un-photogenic cats can be…) and we always shoot the long term residents who may not have put their best paw forward with their initial web picture. After lots of love + trial & error, my heart is so happy to be able to announce, that regardless of how long a cat has been at the shelter, almost every cat we’ve taken a “model” picture of has been adopted in just a handful of days!
Here’s a collection of my fave moments. More after the gallery of these beauties…
Can you believe that these sweet angels weren’t adopted before we photographed them? My goal as the cat photographer is to capture a moment of their unique personalities. Did you (by any chance) feel certain emotions arise when you saw each picture? That’s the magic. That is SUCH a HUGE part of what helps these amazing pets find their forever homes. Dogs, rabbits, mice, ferrets, & all the other animals at the shelter need help too – I just have such a soft spot in my heart for these cats who needed more photographers at our shelter.
If you’re feeling inspired & would love to get involved, simply contact your local humane society and let them know you’re interested in volunteering for animal photography. If you’re a professional photographer, most shelters will even let you watermark your photos with your logo!
Trouble finding one? Check out Petfinder.com to locate your closest shelter.
If you’re adventurous enough to try it out, let me know how everything goes. I’d love to hear about your journey!
…And saving the best for last, here’s my favorite model-kitty Smoky, who was at the shelter for a very long time, but just a few days after this centerfold shot, he was happily adopted! I love his confident, smug pose. Doesn’t he look like he’s on a beach with a Mai Tai?