Imagine having to leave your home, your friends and family, and your everyday life behind. Imagine being thrown into a world full of strange people, unfamiliar smells and sounds, and surroundings. Imagine not knowing if you’ll ever see your family again…
That’s pretty much the experience that a rescue dog goes through when they arrive at a shelter. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding their arrival, they’ll probably be feeling confused, anxious, stressed out and completely overwhelmed!
So it’s no wonder that the shelter volunteers – who are already rushed off their feet feeding, cleaning and looking after all the animals in their care – can struggle to get good photos of the dogs that come through their doors. These incredible people dedicate their lives to the animals in their care, all with a limited budget, time and resources. There simply isn’t enough time in the day for photo shoots, especially when the dogs are probably feeling anxious enough already!
More info: theartisanhound.co.uk
In a digital world of scrolling endlessly through news feeds and websites, it’s becoming harder to stand out in the crowd. And for a shelter dog, standing out in a crowd could be the difference between another year alone at the shelter, or a loving forever home with a brand new family. It could literally save their life! So that was the challenge I set myself when I started photographing shelter dogs. I knew I needed to get people to stop in their tracks when they scrolled past my photos online.
It’s super important that the dogs are as comfortable as possible in front of my camera. These dogs are often nervous, and sometimes visibly distressed. Some of them are reactive to other animals, while some will freeze in fear at the sight of a passing car or cyclist. I want their photos to help potential adopters visualize each dog in an everyday scenario – an excited pup down at the park or a happy hound out on a family walk. I want to banish that image of a sad, lonely dog cowering in a kennel. I want adopters to see just how amazing these dogs can be, given the chance to just be normal, regular dogs!
So I take the time to get to know each shelter dog I photograph. They get to have a sniff of the camera (and me!) and I have plenty of treats on hand in case a little motivation is needed. It’s as much about creating a positive experience as it is getting a good photo. Giving them the opportunity to stretch their legs and experience something a little bit different is a great form of enrichment for a dog that would otherwise be sitting in a kennel or run.
It’s not always easy. And sometimes I doubt myself and wonder if I’m actually making a difference with my photos. But then every now and again I’ll hear from somebody who adopted a dog, and they tell me that it was my photo that made them stop and take notice. And I think what might have happened if I’d never taken that photo… It may be hard work, and I might not get to do it as often as I’d like to, but I’m convinced that a good photo can definitely save a life.