How I Found My Why
Often people ask how I got into pet photography. Why animals, and not people? Always very good questions, and here is my answer. I have always loved photography, even at a young age. With time, I found myself gravitating to my pets. When I succeeded in capturing a great image, I felt incredible satisfaction! For the last several years I’ve had the great pleasure of taking photos of dogs and cats needing homes. I learned my photos could help an animal find a forever, loving home.
Through helping these organizations, and the animals they were saving, I also found my WHY. I was meant to help these wonderful, helpless creatures find their new homes.
Rescue Organizations Need Help
There are many great organizations that focus entirely on finding homes for animals. Many of these rescues are specific to one breed, or specialize in senior or special needs. And other organizations take in any animals that need help.
I’ve worked with Safe Harbor Humane Society in Kenosha, WI for a few years now. Lucky for me I work with incredible volunteers and staff members. What’s great is everyone seems to have the same goal: find each animal a loving home. While I mostly photograph the adoptable dogs, I do get into the cat room from time to time.
There’s just no way to fully describe my joy when I hear one of my photos had a part in an adoption. Sometimes families tell me that my photo led them to adopt an animal. How can I not help, with news like this? I just never know who may see my images, and how they may help animals get adopted.
When I decided it was time to add another dog to our family, I spent time scrolling through so many photos online. I’ll never forget the image of one dog, her big ears touching the ceiling of the car while her tongue hung way out. Her eyes were bright, and she appeared so happy and free. I kept scrolling, but something kept pulling me back to that photo. It was as if she was speaking to me. Of course we ended up adopting this girl, and it turns out this was a photo of Targa’s “freedom ride” out of the shelter.
Knowing how I was affected by this image, I always try to make a connection with each animal I photograph. I may not know his or her story, but I sure do want others to be affected the same way I was. This is why it’s so important to me to try to capture each dog or cat’s expression.
German Shepherd Rescue
I’ve had the good fortune of volunteering for an organization in Kenosha, one that rescues, fosters, and finds homes for German Shepherds. Now if you’re at all familiar with this breed, you know these dogs are not often very easy. This is a working breed, these dogs are very smart, and between their keen intelligence and their desire to be kept busy, they can be quite a challenge.
Thanks to Rettungs-Haus Shepherds, Inc., many of these misunderstood German Shepherds have a second chance. Antoinette, the founder of this rescue, has a keen sense for each dog’s needs. Not only are appropriate homes found for each dog but Antoinette also offers obedience classes for adopters (and other dog owners in the community). I was lucky enough to photograph newly rescued dogs, in hopes that others would see these available dogs and take one into their homes.
My new location is a little bit farther away now, but once the dust has settled I hope to get back into Kenosha to visit with Antoinette and the Rettungs-Haus crew. This rescue is very dear to my heart, and if my photos help another dog find a home, that will just reinforce WHY I do what I do with my camera.
Don’t Forget the Kitties!
Although dogs make up most of my photo sessions, I do love when I have the chance to play with cats. We all know there are so many cats that need forever homes, it seems endless! Thanks to Sandy Majest, founder and president of Kenosha Forgotten Friends, many kitties find safe and loving homes.
This rescue often receives difficult medical cases. In partnership with Dr. Carlisle of Kenosha Animal Hospital, these cats receive necessary and often life-saving medical treatment. Once they’re healthy these rescued felines are adopted out to loving homes.
Cats are very different from dogs. They’re so much more independent, they don’t care for my funny squeaky noises, and they do what they want, whenever they want! I love having the chance to get in and photograph the cats, it’s a refreshing and challenging change of routine. But in the end, the ultimate goal is always the same. Get these four-legged friends noticed and adopted. Again, I feel so happy when I hear my photos have helped a cat get adopted.
Time is Limited
I always encourage people to take photos of family. You just never know what tomorrow will bring. Our pets are no exception since they too, are a big part of our family. Many of us have loved a pet, but have then been forced to say goodbye. These family members love us unconditionally and share so many milestones in our lives. And yet suddenly they’re gone, and we have nothing left but memories. I’ve been lucky to always have some photos of our pets, and I’m so thankful.
Along with animal rescue, this is a big part of my WHY. People often struggle to get a great photo of their dog or cat, and I love being able to help. Just imagine having pictures that make you think your dog is looking right at you, sharing a secret. Or your dog is being his usual goofy self. I love being able to capture who each animal truly is. This is what you’ll connect with, these are the photos that will speak to you.
The Rewards Are Great
I know how hard the shelters and rescues work to save animals. If my photos can help in some small way, it’s all worth it. I love helping these organizations, everyone is always so grateful, and I truly love every dog and cat I meet. Looking into the eyes of an animal looking around for their previous owner, confused and often scared, I know why I take these photos. These animals did nothing wrong, and all they want is someone to love them. They ask for nothing in return, they just continue to love us, every moment of every day.
And for those who share a home with animals, they know time is precious. Our furry best friends are never with us long enough, and this is why I love pet photography. I want every pet owner to be able to preserve that moment in time while the four-legged family members are still there. It seems time passes too quickly, and then our beloved pets are gone. I truly love being able to provide these keepsakes for others. That’s just another part of my WHY.