For as long as I can remember, animals have filled my life and heart.
My father was a veterinarian and so I think I naturally gravitated to animals of just about any kind. Animals have always been a part of my family and have shaped my world in so many ways; I hope for everyone else to feel the same way when I look into the eyes of a dog or cat, horse or cow, but I know they don’t. There are so many animals out there that need homes, that have been abandoned, abused and neglected, and I know that I can’t save them all. This used to frustrate me beyond words and often angers me (the issue is just so huge), yet I can make a difference now, and so this changes the way I see the problems that concern many animals.
The way I make a difference today, by giving back, is to volunteer my time and services as a photographer to a local animal rescue. Professional and eye-catching images of pets is one excellent way for them to ‘find’ their new forever homes; us humans love looking at ‘pretty things’ and we also can connect to another living being by looking into their eyes. I see a lot when I look into the eyes of another animal, I see a soul and kindred spirit. I see an animal that has a story to tell and a lot of love to give, an unconditional love, yet has no voice to say these things. I believe a photo can speak volumes, and my hope with the images I take at the rescue (nearly all cats, which fill rescues in even larger amounts than dogs), is that they bring each animal that one step closer to the love and attention they deserve.
As anyone who works with rescue animals know, it’s not easy. There is a lot of pain, suffering, sadness and frustration involved, especially when you really think about what’s going on with the big picture for the millions of homeless animals out there. Many can’t understand how we can keep going back amid all of that, there are always more and more animals that need to be rescued and adopted. But with every adoption and success story, there is inspiration to keep going. I am happy to say that my photography has made a big impact with the adoptions of cats at the rescue, particularly the adults and seniors, the so-called less-adoptable ones.
Having beautiful images to show their beautiful souls, does work. I spend hours photographing countless beautiful cats (regularly at Seattle Area Feline Rescue), usually right in the rescue itself, and also by going to their wonderful foster homes. I then spend even more hours, often late into the night, at home editing and processing images, then uploading and sharing them. Cats also have to be one of the hardest animals to photograph; they do not follow directions, they move incredibly quickly (unless they’re asleep!), and many of these cats still need a lot of TLC and special handling because of their pasts. But I enjoy the challenge.
I want every single one of those kitties to have a great chance at getting a new home, and so I try my best to capture the essence and character of each one. Circumstances aren’t ideal, space is limited (my head and camera are usually right there in the crates/cages), and there is always another cat that I had wished I had had time to photograph (there never is enough time, is there?). After taking my time with them, and using all that I know about and feel for my feline friends, I’m always going to try and show the viewer, the potential adopter, the connection I get when I click the shutter for that image. I want that connection to be felt when you see my images.
I believe that combining my love for photography with my love for animals is the best way that I can give back, and I gladly spend all those hours for the sake of getting even one more animal a new and loving home. I want to give back because over the years, animals have given so much to me. I hope you enjoy the images I have to share of all these rescue animals, and I mostly hope that every one of them plays a part in changing that little animal’s life for the better, forever.
Thank you for supporting the important work I do for the animals!
*I am a member of an amazing organization, HeARTs Speak, which represents a global network of artists dedicated to providing time and professional services, pro-bono, to animal welfare organizations in our communities. I am incredibly proud to be a part of such a fantastic group of talented individuals.
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