This week I was honored and humbled to be chosen by HeARTs Speak as one of two members honored for our contributions to animal rescue photography. This is long, bear with me…!
Right now, as many around me know, the rescue I do volunteer photography for, Animal Talk has lost its lease – basically had the rug pulled out from under us – and all of our animals had to be quickly found adopters or placed in foster homes. Within a couple of weeks, we went from having one obvious physical (though bursting at the seams) location, to having animals spread out over countless homes. I don’t even know how all the brilliant people at ATR managed it. As a no-kill rescue, there’s only one answer for all those cats, and it’s that for every single one, the right home is out there somewhere and we don’t give up on them. I even have taken in a foster cat called Oreo for a while myself (much to my female cat’s chagrin!).
Thankfully, we had just had our annual benefit, and the night brought in some $30,000. Announcing that we were suddenly to be without a physical address, undoubtedly initiated an absolute outpouring of support in many ways. But nonetheless, lots of crazy changes and events are afoot.
For two years now, I have been the chief rescue photographer at ATR, photographing what must now be hundreds and hundreds of cats (a few dogs here and there) with the goal of creating eye-catching portraits so that these kitties get noticed more easily. I usually photograph(ed) at the rescue either in one of the three small ‘cat suites’, by sticking my head into cat crates, in my makeshift ‘studio’ there (ie a 2×3 foot space on top of some filing cabinets in the ‘office’), and by going to foster homes. Sometimes it was once a week, but in recent months it was a lot more that I was doing. Before we had to completely vacate the premises, which was actual the back portion of a pet supply store, I did a mad rush to get all adoptable adult cats photographed so their images could be put online. I regularly post these images to our shelter system (which updates Petfinder), as well as to my Facebook page, and create updates for our ‘Adopt Less-Adoptable Cats’ campaign page. I also not only took event photos at the rescue benefit, but I also worked hard on putting together a video that was shown; since my background is in film/video production, I enlisted some friends to help me flex my producing muscle and we created a video that I’m very proud of. I also recently worked with the peeps at the Lil Bub Show (you have to know who Lil Bub is!) to get photos together for a spot in their YouTube episode that featured our rescue. Phew!!
Come see the Lil Bub episode here: http://kamoorephotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/11/lil-bubs-big-show-features-animal-talk-rescue
And the video I produced for the benefit is here:
But I’m not telling you this because I’m tooting my horn. The long hours I spend editing on my computer, the times I spend groveling on the cat-litter-dusty floor taking photos, and the many hours of uploading, tweaking, backing up, and posting, are for one thing only, something I care about deeply. I might be adamant that I get credit for my work, or that it’s posted in the best resolution it can be, but at the core of it all is the deep love I have for animals. Knowing that my work can help get even one animal adopted makes it worth it. The first time I heard that a cat was adopted as a directresult of my photography, was something I won’t forget. It might not seem like a big deal to all the countless amazing people who work to get animals rescued and adopted every day, with all their own hard work. A lot of my own work is unseen, but I think the images speak for themselves. I try my hardest to capture the essence and character of every cat I meet, to get people to see what I see. I also feel like I have grown a lot personally, along with my own skills, and created a definite personal style to my photography, over those last few years. I am so grateful for that, for the opportunity it has given me. I’ve gradually added some things to my photography gear to make the images possible, but I don’t have the means in general to where it’s easy to do so. I also battle with MS, which mostly sucks physical energy from me on a day-to-day basis (with occasional relapse hiccups!), but I think that also actually pushes me. Sometimes it’s good for me to stand back and be proud of what I do, because I’m not the best person for accepting compliments (must be the Brit in me!). It makes me want to try harder still.
It may sound silly to some, but I love cats (along with many other critters). I love photography. I love photographing cats! I love cats getting their forever homes, thanks to the amazing rescue I work with.It’s a ‘job’ that’s never done, and as long as I keep striving to do the best I can with what I have for every cat, I will feel good about this crazy thing I do…for free. There are amazing photographers out there that I admire, and HeARTs Speak is an organization full of them (and other artists), so to be recognized for what I have been pretty quietly doing, is wonderful. It often feels like a very quiet and solitary position that I’m in, even though I’m usually editing photos on my laptop with all my own animals on the bed with me. They are my editing buddies, my sidekicks, my reason why that next photo is worth it (and all the megabytes of hard drive storage they take up).
With no physical rescue at the moment, I didn’t have anyone to really happily jump up and down with when a dear Kelly called to say I was one of the two ladies chosen. But I’m glowing inside and my week will round itself out with a trip to photograph at Purrfect Pals rescue (where some of our kitties ended up), plus two consecutive days of going to foster homes to do the same. I hope it’s not too long before our rescue finds its permanent home again, and I’ll be back going for regular photo visits in a new spot.
So finally, I’ll say thank you to HeARTs Speak for recognizing little old me, and to all the photographers out there that do what I do, to those that inspire me, and to those that make animals’ lives better every day. Truly…thank you!
xo ~ K