Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Why I started..

 People ask me sometimes what got me interested in photography, what inspired me to learn more about it and graduate to a better camera.  For me, the interest all began when I started volunteering at the animal shelter in my city.  I had attended an animal rescue group meeting, and the woman in charge of pound volunteers asked for someone to photograph the animals available and post them on petfinder to be adopted.  I thought this was a good place to start volunteering, a slow introduction.

I immediately loved it- and I quickly learned that the better the picture, the more likely it was their profile would be looked at, which in turn made it more likely the animal would be adopted, the ultimate goal. 

Unfortunately, this is not an easy task!!  Have you ever tried to photograph a cat that has been cooped in a cage for days?  They really do not want to hold still for a photo.  They would rather try and jump up on cages, run around checking things out, smell plants, etc. It is pretty tricky and challenging to photograph cats! Dogs are so easy in comparison.  They just stand there and let you take their pic.  For the most part.  Sometimes you get that dog who wants to leap straight up in the air, or constantly has their nose to the ground sniffing and smelling.  It usually takes me two hours a week to photograph the animals in the pound, and that is with an assistant to control the animal or make sure it doesn't run away.  If I don't have an assistant, the photos are not as good, since the animal has to stay in a cage.  Which means it is less likely to get looked at, and so on.  I usually leave with 300 some photos, that needed to be sorted through and edited- then uploaded online to two different adoption sites.  This all takes hours - but it is all worth it when an animal is adopted. :)  We recently had a cat come in as a stray, and the picture was online not even 24 hours before the owners saw her and came to get her.  They had been looking a whole month, and they said when they saw the photo, they knew it was her- that I had captured her personality.

I urge anyone who is interested in photography, whether they are pros or just beginners, to check with your local shelters and rescues, to see if they need any assistance with photos for Petfinder.  It is a great opportunity for you and for the animals!!  And if you need a photo challenge, just wait until you start taking pictures of shelter cats!

This is another good article about photography and animal rescue.


  1. I have to say it - I love you!! I have such admiration for everyone who volunteers at animal shelters.

    It's something I've been considering. My girls are in elementary school full time. I bring my son into town three mornings a week for preschool. I have three days where I have about 2 hours to myself. I love animals, fully believe in adopting shelter animals instead of supporting breeders and puppy mills, and think volunteering to help the animals is a much better way of spending my time instead of sitting in the car reading. The thing that scares me is the shelter here is not a no-kill shelter. I'm afraid of getting attached to the animals and finding out they were euthanized due to not being adopted and the shelter needing the room. (Also, I would have to have some serious self-control to not bring home every animal that comes through the doors.)

    Any advice?

  2. That is hard - our shelter is not entirely no kill, but it is only 3%- which is still hard when one you have grown attached to is gone. :( When I first started, the euthanasia rate was 10%, but since then our volunteer base has grown, and our Animal Control Officer is very open to help and adoptions, which is extremely important. If your local shelter is not at this point yet, I would suggest going to, and searching your zip code for the closest animal rescues and shelters around you that utilize petfinder. Chances are if they are using petfinder, they are committed to finding homes for their animals and don't euthanize as quickly or at all. Once you find a few, I would just email them or call them and say that you are interested in helping with photos for petfinder. Chances are they will be happy to have your help and expertise!

    Good luck, and I am glad that you are interested!!! Let me know if I can help or answer any other questions. :)

  3. I forgot to add- I am not so good at not bringing them home. I have three cats and a dog, and they are all from the shelter I volunteer at. This is our limit though! Lol. I am lucky, my husband volunteers too, so when one of us wants to bring an animal home, we veto it. The problem starts when we both fall in love with the same animal....

  4. Thanks for the info!!! I'll look into Petfinder to see if our shelter is listed.

    I have a very hard time saying no to animals. We're always quick to say "yes" when someone asks if we can take "so-n-so", from cats, a bird, a whole bunch of chickens (more on the way this week!), and our dog was adopted from the shelter (saw her photo in the paper and brought her home that day).

    Thank you again!!

  5. Amanda, you are exactly the person we hope walks into our shelter! :) And I am jealous, I want chickens but I am afraid my dog (a bird hunting dog) would kill them or freak them out. Not quite fair to the chickens. :(

    Good luck, and have fun!


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