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Roberta and Gracie Rescue Each Other

Gracie's original photoMeet Gracie. She was once a shelter dog at the For Paws Sake Canine Rescue in Indiana, one of many unfortunate dogs without a home. Recently, One Picture Saves a Life changed the life of not only Gracie, but her owner as well. After One Picture Saves a Life volunteer Miranda Hay posted this professional photo of Gracie on behalf of For Paws Sake Animal Rescue, Roberta Craft adopted her within a few hours and Gracie was in a new home the next day.

Roberta wasn’t looking for just a companion. She had recently been diagnosed with Mastocytosis, rare and life-threatening condition causing severe allergic reactions, and was looking for a service dog. After seeing Gracie’s photo online, Roberta knew she was the perfect fit. “When I saw Gracie’s face I knew this was the dog for me,” states Roberta. It was her first attempt at having a service dog, and she couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

Gracie in her forever home with Roberta, her adopterIn just a few months, Gracie was fully trained to alert Roberta to take medication to halt a more severe allergic reaction. “As far as I’m aware Gracie is the second dog in the world trained for Mastocytosis and the first for an Adult. I’ve been able to avoid the ER for 3 months which is the longest since they started.”

Through the help of One Picture Saves a Life and the dedication of volunteers like Miranda, Roberta and Gracie have both been rescued. We’re happy to share this news and look forward to other success stories from this program!


Jessie Keating of JAKPhotography

Gotti-12_watermarked_257After seeing some amazing posts by JAKPhotography on our One Picture Saves a Life Facebook page, we reached out to them to ask about how they got involved volunteering with shelter animals. One thing Jessie Keating of JAKPhotography does exceptionally well is use composite photos to incorporate personality and other adoption information into the picture. We were thrilled to hear about her successes and wanted to share her story:

“My name is Jessie Keating (hence the initials JAK) and I live in Gilbert, Arizona. I do photography on the side as a hobby and I love love love dogs – especially after going through intense training with my own dog where I learned how to better communicate with them. I started working with a German shepherd rescue in fall 2013 but the distance was too great (40 mi one way). I saw a posting on Facebook by the state’s animal control, Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, offering a new program called Day Fostering. This allows volunteers to take the dogs out of the pound for a day and get some socialization and exercise, and gives them an overall break from kennel life. It gives me great information that I pass along to the shelter as many dogs act differently outside of those walls and it gives the coordinators notes to add to the dog’s (often blank) file. I just started doing this last weekend, and both dogs from last weekend have been adopted! 

Miriam-8_257It sounds really corny, but the One Picture Saves a Life training videos are what got me motivated! I always thought about doing this but I felt a little insecure finding my way and doing it on my own. Learning the tips and tricks of working with shelter dogs gave me just the confidence I needed to get out there and try it on my own. I had no idea how rewarding it would be! My one hesitation was getting attached to the dogs, wanting to take them all home or being too depressed being at the shelter (comments I hear all the time when I tell people about this). The satisfaction I get from taking that dog that everyone passes by and showing them in a new light outweighs any of the hesitations – hands down. My goal in my photos is to uplift the people looking at them, show them that shelter dogs are beautiful and show them the personality these wonderful dogs have. I try to create profile cards that mimic a dating website, because to me it isn’t about taking a dog that is “unwanted” or “tossed to the side” – it is showing their personality and hopefully it speaks to the right love connection!”

Thank you for sharing Jessie! If you want to get involved volunteering at your local shelter, visit our list of shelters in your area looking for volunteers.


Jessica Cobb’s Pet Photography

cobb-257One Picture Saves a Life fan and shelter volunteer Jessica Cobb’s interest in photography started by taking pictures of her own dog. After volunteering at her local shelter, she saw the need for better adoption pictures and decided to learn more and put her photography skills to work – and she has seen some great success! Recently, Jessica shared her story:

“I live with my husband and 3 dogs in PA. I have my own pet-sitting business that I run on a full-time basis along with my photography. I have loved dogs ever since I was a kid and could never get enough of them. Taking snapshots of my own dog was what first got me interested in photography. I had a willing subject (as long as treats were involved) and could practice with her as much as I wanted. Then, about four years ago, I volunteered at my very first animal rescue in Florida. It was there that I really started seeing the need for a good adoption photo for the dogs and that really started my interest and love of photography. I wanted to learn more about it so that I could take better pictures of the shelter dogs to help their chances of being adopted. I also do people photography and weddings occasionally but my real passion is pet photography. I love how they just do their thing and are never self-conscious about having their picture taken.
  
cobb-257I volunteered with the shelter in Florida for a few years before my husband and I moved to PA. We hadn’t even been in the state a whole month before I was on the search for a rescue that needed help photographing their adoptable pups. I found the SPCA of Luzerne County and have been working with them for a little over a year now.

Honey2-257I recently took several photos of dogs that had been in the shelter for a long time to try and get them loving homes. Melody was at the shelter for over a year and the other dogs had been there for about 8 months. All of those dogs were adopted out not long after their special photoshoot pictures were posted. I have heard of many people telling the staff at the SPCA of how they came to meet a certain dog and ended up adopting them because of the photo they saw online or on the Facebook page. Another neat thing that happened recently was that I had photographed one of the adoptable dogs at the shelter and he ended up being adopted by a couple who were given a gift certificate for a pet photography session and I will soon be doing his photo again….but this time with his adopted family. That’s the best!

I actually found you guys through another pet photographer that I get newsfeed updates about through Facebook. So, I checked you guys out and love what you are doing! I watched the video on how to photograph cats, because it can be tricky to get their attention – it was a cool video and I do plan on watching more of them. I truly believe that what I, and countless other photographers do in volunteering our time to take photos of shelter animals makes a big difference. I will always volunteer my photography skills at a shelter, no matter where I live. I enjoy it so much and it is one of the most rewarding things that I have done.”

Do you want to get involved volunteering at your shelter? Visit http://onepicsaves.wpengine.com//register/#volunteer


Tiger

1399742_1403788156519992_441796034_oYou might remember a feature we ran in late September on Josh Feeney, an amazing shelter photographer who attended a One Picture Saves a Life workshop and has been pumping out fantastic photographs of adoptable pets for Safe Humane Chicago (SHC) and Chicago Animal Care and Control (CCAC) ever since. Josh checked in with us this month and shared a great adoption story that illustrates the power of positive pet photography.

Josh first met Tiger at Chicago Animal Care & Control and immediately felt a connection with him. Tiger was found as a stray and only had a few days before he was to be euthanized. Josh stepped in and posted 40 pictures of Tiger on his new Facebook page, cacc_photos. The next day, rescue group A New Leash On Life (Chicago) pulled Tiger and he is now in a foster home.

Josh told us:

“Aside from photos, asking people to share, like, and help spread the word is so important. This is, what I believe to be the perfect case scenario of what good photographs, shares, and networking can do to save a dog.”

Below is the Facebook post from Josh that resulted in a happy ending for Tiger:

Tiger’s story

I first met Tiger on Tuesday, as I am starting to help the transfer team photograph the 20-25,000 dogs that CACC takes in every year.

As I approached Tiger’s cage to take his picture inside a cage, which I swore to never do, he slowly looked up at me with his big dark eyes. I could hear his faint whimper among the bellowing barks of so many dogs around. I sat down onto the dirty floor and opened his cage. He looked at me, still whimpering, and slowly started to come out of his cage and proceed directly onto my lap. He never lost eye contact with me, as though he was seeking approval for his efforts.

He continued to settle into my lap and began to wiggle his tail. This was probably the first time that he had been out of his cage in god knows how long. Most of our dogs are not allowed out of their cages because they are not yet city property. Every time that I tried to put Tiger back into his cage, he would further compress himself down into my lap, as if refusing to leave me.

1404994_1403787953186679_869900801_oI had to leave as I had many more dogs to photograph. I came back the next day, and spent nearly 30 minutes with him outside. Immediately outside in the yard, he became this incredibly happy dog with a wagging tail. All he wanted to do was run in the grass and be a dog.

I don’t think that he has ever played ball before, he had no idea what he was supposed to do with it. It took him 15 minutes before he realized that he could put the ball in his mouth and run with it, and that after I threw the ball, he could bring it back to me and repeat the process. He loved this new thing so much. He knows how to sit, takes treats very gently, and really loves getting his head and belly scratched.

I have met literally thousands of dogs at the shelter, and Tiger is one of a kind.

I told Tiger on Wednesday that I would do everything that I can to find him a home, and that is what I am doing now. He is such an incredible dog, he is gentle, playful, cuddly, affectionate, and just because someone did not come back to the shelter to claim him, and just because that someone cropped his ears presumably to make him look tough, is not a reason for him to die.

Tiger was found as a stray like so many of our dogs. We have no idea where they came from, what their past has been, or how they may have been treated. But none of that matters because Tiger is now urgent, which means that he has until Monday to find a rescue group to take him before he gets euthanized.

Someone please consider him. I will introduce you to him in person this weekend.

Thank you”

A big thanks to Josh for this beautiful story and for saving Tiger. Anyone inspired by Tiger’s story or the wonderful work of Josh Feeney can connect with their local shelter here and train online with our Learning Videos. Remember, One Picture Saves a Life!


Brandi Scharrer and Scott Roeben

Brandi Scharrer and Scott Roeben have been on fire taking positive photographs of shelter animals since attending the One Picture Saves a Life workshop in Las Vegas on June 15th. At the time of this interview, the number of animals photographed was over 400. By the time this article goes live, they expect it to be up to 500!

We asked Brandi and Scott how they got involved volunteering for animal shelters. Brandi stated:

“We had talked about volunteering for our local shelter before, but were always nervous if we could “handle it.” We feared the same questions that we get asked all the time—‘How can you do that? I feel so bad for the animals.’ ‘I couldn’t work down there; it is too sad.’ ‘How can you not adopt all of them?’ etc. In April I told myself my fear was stopping me, and it was time to get over it if I really wanted to help. Our almost 15-year-old German Shepherd Averi was nearing the end of her time, and I began to do a lot of reflecting back on her life. She was also a rescue and lived an incredibly long and full life. We lost her in August. She was an amazing companion and friend. Every dog deserves to have the chance at a life like she had, and every person should have the opportunity to find that special friend. In January, Scott took some memorable and beautiful pictures of our girl Averi. She was pretty much deaf and wasn’t your average subject, but he did a phenomenal job with her. So of course I had to drag him along to the shelter. He needed that little push as well. Teaming up is how it is possible for us to photograph as many animals as we do.

BrandiAnimalFoundation_smWe have been working with the The Animal Foundation for about 6 months. However, our photography adventures just started in July. We have both had a really great experience working with their staff, adoption counselors, other volunteers, and of course the animals there! They have such a high volume that they keep us busy. And they just recently won the grand prize for the 2013 ASPCA & Rachel Ray 100K challenge!”

When asked how they managed to shoot over 400 dogs in such a short time, Brandi told us:

“The shelter we work with here in Las Vegas, NV is an open-admission shelter so the volume of photo candidates is endless and sometimes overwhelming. Just a few days between our visits brings a whole new batch of lovies needing a home and a picture. In the beginning we struggled a bit with quality vs. quantity and finally settled on some place in between.  While I think the photographs we take are amazing, the photographer in Scott would like to perfect each one, making them “award winning”, but we would never help the amount of animals we have if that was the goal.

The shelter has a photo program set up to help the volunteer photographers out. They print a sheet daily of all the dogs and cats up for adoption along with their pictures. After reviewing the sheet, we try and pick a bungalow (a building that houses 12+ dogs) that has the most dogs with poor intake photos and start there. That way we can work right down the kennels instead of bouncing around. Currently the shelter has 22 bungalows, so this does save us time.

Most recently we have set a goal of trying to photograph 20 dogs in one visit. The most we have ever done at one time was 43. Once we hit our goal we usually wind down a bit and socialize and snuggle with a couple of the dogs. This always produces more pics! So in one week’s time we photograph around 40-50 animals.”

We asked Brandi and Scott if they had any good photography related adoption stories to share, and they provided us with the following:

“On multiple occasions we have had a patron adopt a dog we were photographing or walking. The actual photography session draws attention to the dogs and gives them more exposure. People see us playing, laughing and photographing them and it creates interest. Not only do the dogs look more adoptable with a better photograph, but they also look more adoptable outside of their kennel and interacting with people.

Ranger

RangerRanger was a cute border collie we photographed on a Sunday afternoon. We returned to the shelter two days later when we were stopped by a nice couple looking for a specific dog. They were at the shelter to see a dog they found on the website and wanted to know if I could get him so they could walk and see him. The conversation went something like this:

Brandi: Which dog would you like to see?
Couple: Ranger.
Brandi: Oh the red, cute border collie? Awesome! We just photographed him on Sunday.
Couple: YOU took that picture on the website?
Brandi: I assist. I wrangle and hold the dogs while my friend Scott snaps the pic.
Couple: We are here because of that picture! When we were searching the website his picture popped right off the screen. And we were moving down the list pretty fast. We had to see him.

Two minutes later I handed Ranger over to them to walk. Thirty minutes later they adopted him!”

This dynamic duo of shelter photography also provided us with a few transformation stories and some great photo tips from Scott:

Transformation stories

“From time-to-time we will encounter dogs that are just too scared to even be photographed. Either they won’t come out of the kennel or we can’t get near them to try. We are always respectful of their space and never force ourselves on them. When this happens we stop and focus on socializing. Then we photograph. If we pass them by, so will others.

LaceLace
This girl was our first love. When we met her I couldn’t even get close enough to touch her and she was even more scared of Scott. After working with her and earning her trust, we finally broke her out of her shell. As soon as we did, a wonderful couple spotted her and adopted her. She went from not being able to be touched to crawling in your lap and rolling around. It was a beautiful transformation.

destinyDestiny
Destiny’s challenges were greater. She would allow us to touch her and get close to her, but no one at the shelter could get her out of the kennel. We spent a couple of days working with her and finally I got her to walk out and around the shelter. The shelter staff was amazed and cheered! She was adopted soon after!

BennyBenny
This little guy was listed as “scared/shy” and ran away when we approached his kennel. It took a much shorter time to convince him to come out and when he did he started showing off. When we started photographing him, he started doing this little trick. I couldn’t stop laughing, so we stopped and Scott took this Vine video of him.”

Photography tips from Scott

“There’s a lot of trial and error involved, even for seasoned photographers. You quickly develop some go-to techniques. Dogs warm up to you if you offer them a treat before you start. Certain noises work with different breeds to get them to look at the camera (one of the most appealing angles). Chihuahuas love squeaky toys. Certain dogs love a popping noise, others like whistles or smooching noises. You get used to running through the routine until you get the photos you need.

before_after4It’s great to be able to use “bokeh” to blur the background and lessen the visibility of leashes and enclosures or fences. While there’s not always time, exercising a dog gets them panting and “smiling” for photos.

Finding a good light is one of the most important aspects of photographing the animals. Bright sunlight makes animals, and people, squint…along with creating harsh shadows. It’s best to find some shade, or light through a window is also flattering.

Working as a team is really important. Each person can focus on their job, and it really speeds up the process, so you can give more pets their time in the limelight, and a better chance at adoption.”

Finally, we asked the pair how they liked the One Picture Saves a Life workshop, and how if has affected their photo shoots. Brandi told us:

“The workshop is what really got us motivated. I was already volunteering at the shelter and wanted to start taking pictures of the animals. When I saw the announcement for the workshop, I enrolled right away. Then I got a better idea: invite Scott and team up!

Scott was already a fabulous photographer, but it was definitely helpful to be part of the workshop. We discovered quickly that photographing dogs and cats is different than other subjects, and doing the photography at a shelter adds more layers of challenge.

Seth Casteel also answered some great questions around our fears and how he “handles” being in and interacting with the dogs in a shelter setting.”

A big thanks to Brandi and Scott for sharing their experience and insights from the One Picture Saves a Life program. You too can be a hero by taking positive photos of shelter animals. Connect with your local shelter here and train online with our Learning Videos. And as always, remember: One Picture Saves a Life!


Overnight Adoption? Well Ain’t That A Daisy!

A few weeks ago we ran a feature on Miranda Hay, an amazing pet photographer and Shelter President of the Humane Society of Sullivan County in Sullivan, Indiana. Yesterday we received a great email from Miranda, detailing what may be one of the fastest adoption turnarounds we’ve ever heard about, and all thanks to One Picture Saves a Life! Miranda told us about Daisy:

daisy“Daisy is a two-year-old female Boxer that was saved by one of our great volunteers that overheard Daisy’s owner telling a man he was going to shoot his dog because he didn’t want it anymore. Unfortunately, this is a rural area where we see this all too often. The volunteer asked the man if he could have the dog, and the owner agreed and handed Daisy over. She came to our shelter last week. I went to the shelter to take pictures of the new intake dogs that were ready for adoption. Daisy was so easy to photograph with her facial expressions and “head tilt” with the squeaker! I went home and did some quick editing with Photoshop Elements and posted the pictures to our Facebook page around 9 PM.

daisy2“A great family from our community saw Daisy’s picture that night and knew they had to adopt her! They came to our shelter the next day and adopted her as soon as we opened! Daisy now has a wonderful family, including two children, two other Boxer siblings and 10 acres to run and play and put the past behind her! This is a true testament that One Picture Saves a Life, and in Daisy’s case, in one day! Thank you to the One Picture Saves A Life team for giving us the skills and tools to make success stories like Daisy’s possible!”

Thank you Miranda for sharing Daisy’s triumphant story and for your continued efforts to increase adoption rates through the power of positive pet photography. Anyone inspired by Daisy’s story or the fantastic work of Miranda Hay can connect with their local shelter here and train online with our Learning Videos. Remember, One Picture Saves a Life!


Cats R Cool, One Picture & John Paul Pet in Texas Nov. 2

JACKSON GALAXYSETH CASTEELJOHN PAUL
DEJORIA
Jackson-4Seth-2-2Come see John Paul Dejoria, co-founder of Paul Mitchell Systems, the Cat Daddy Jackson Galaxy and Underwater Dogs photographer Seth Casteel take the stage together for one time only, presented by The Animal Rescue Site! Bring the whole family and learn simple ways you can get involved helping cats and dogs in your community. As part of his Cats Uncaged tour Jackson will talk about Cat Mojo, and Seth will teach the basics of photographing pets to improve the image of rescue and adoption. 

crc-logo-154x72jpThere will be adoptions happening on site, so you can also come meet your new best friend! Adoptions. Food. Fun. Prizes.

Saturday November 2nd, 9am–12pm
The Glen Theater at the Backyard,
13801 Bee Cave Parkway, Bee Cave, TX 78738
FREE to attend!

With: Austin Humane Society, Austin Pets Alive, GreaterGood.org, Petfinder Foundation, John Paul Pets, Dog is Good, Found Animals, Boehringer Ingelheim, TheAnimalRescueSite.com, Halo Pets, FreeKibble.com






  

For more information email [email protected]


Josh Feeney, Shelter Photographer Extraordinaire

JoshJosh Feeney is a full time real estate broker and avid nature photographer. He volunteers with Safe Humane Chicago (SHC) and Chicago Animal Care and Control (CCAC). Immediately upon volunteer at CCAC, Josh noticed the need for better pictures of the adoptable pets, so he volunteered his knowledge of photography and became the lead animal photographer for the organization.

Josh told us:

“I simply wanted to capture the dog’s personality through photographs in hopes that someone would be able to envision this animal beside them on the couch at night, or going for a walk with them outside. I absolutely despise photos of an animal behind bars. This to me simply focuses on the negative, half-empty side, instead of the positive. I also feel that we become immune to these cage photos because they are simply predominant to so many people. It is very hard for me to believe that most people will look at a photo of a dog in a cage and actually want to adopt that animal.”

It was while reading up on Seth Casteel that Josh first stumbled across the One Picture Saves a Life Program. Soon after, he attended one of our workshops and had this to say:

“I think that this program is amazing, as the simple instructions on how to use a camera to take pictures of a dog is not as easy as people think. Being a wildlife photographer, I am used to a never still subject, so for me this is a fun challenge. For most people who only take pics of their friends once in a while, there is a huge learning curve. I also think that it is fantastic that Canon’s new Rebel and a 50mm 1.8mm lens were donated to everyone who signed up. 

A lot of people, especially in the animal rescue community, do not have $600-$800 lying around to go buy a new camera. As much time as I have spent photographing dogs, I have also spent a small fortune buying top-notch equipment which definitely helps. I can blow through easily 1,000 photographs of dogs in a week, of which maybe 50 are keepers. So this is definitely a hobby that requires constant upgrading to your equipment.”

When asked to share an adoption story, Josh told us:

“Just this week, as part of our 2014 calendar project for SHC, we video interviewed and photographed an Afghanistan vet who suffers from P.T.S.D. who adopted one of our dogs earlier this year. When asked why he chose this dog, he said that he saw one of my pictures of the dog eating a doggy cupcake, and it just melted his heart. That statement alone made my year. This amazing human being who has been through so much in the past several years from being overseas, god only knows the tragedies he has witnessed first hand. He even wears a bracelet in honor of a friend of his who died in the war. He needed something positive in his life. Each helps the other out in their own special way.”

Thanks Josh for sharing your story and amazing photos of shelter pets! Those inspired by Josh’s efforts can connect with their local shelter here and train online with our Learning Videos. And don’t forget: One Picture Saves a Life!


Miranda Hay, Pet Photographer

Miranda HayMiranda Hay has been involved with the Humane Society of Sullivan County since the initial planning stages for the shelter in 2008. She assumed various roles for the shelter until ultimately becoming Shelter President in 2011. In June of 2012, Miranda was chosen by CoverGirl and O, The Oprah Magazine as one of four women in the country for the "Beauty of Giving Back" award. Miranda tells us that saving the lives of helpless animals is the most rewarding thing she has ever done, even more so than her day job helping save lives as a helicopter Flight Nurse.

When asked how she became such an amazing pet photographer, Miranda stated:

“As the Facebook page administrator and coordinator of marketing and media relations for the shelter, I always knew the power of great pictures, great stories and community support. So, I had decided that I was going to learn to be a pet photographer. I bought a new camera, bought books on pet photography, Photoshop Elements and signed up for two different photography classes. Although I learned a great deal about my cameras and how to do several things with photography, everything was focused on shooting kids, weddings, or nature. No one could give me straight answers about shooting animals, let alone in a dark shelter, quickly and efficiently.

SethAnd then I met Seth Casteel! There he was at the HSUS EXPO with the One Picture Saves A Life booth! I was familiar with his work with shelters and the Underwater Dogs book through my research of pet photography. I was like a teenager standing in line to talk to Justin Bieber! I had my camera and he was gracious enough to look at my pictures. 

In five minutes Seth gave me all the advice I needed. Get a 50 mm 1.8 lens, shoot in the shade, focus on the eyes and watch my videos! They gave me the information for the workshop in Chicago in August and I went back to my hotel and signed up online that night! The day after I arrived home from the HSUS EXPO, I went to the Kodak store and purchased the lens and sat down in front of my computer and the rest is history! My shelter photography took off! It became exciting and no longer frustrating! I love to go into the cat room and take 40-60 amazing pictures in an hour! I applied for the grant through PetFinder Foundation for the workshop and we were so excited to receive the travel expenses, the camera package, and the one-on-one session with Seth in Chicago.”

After attending the Chicago workshop, Miranda continued to fine-tune her photography and editing skills by utilizing the online videos on the One Picture Saves a Life website. Upon returning from the workshop, Miranda and her colleagues contacted local media to share their story. As a result, they have already had two shelters contact them for a “mini-workshop.” Miranda states:

“I am excited to share what I have learned with others, because we want all the homeless animals across the country to find homes, and marketing is the key! I can’t thank One Picture Saves A Life and Seth Casteel enough for this valuable resource and for the amazing work you all are doing for shelter pets across the country!”

TallieWhen asked to share a favorite pet photo and an adoption story, Miranda provided us with this picture of Tallie, a two-month-old Yorkie placed up for adoption after a puppy mill raid in May. Thanks to the new skills Miranda acquired through Seth Casteel and the One Picture Saves a Life workshop in Chicago, the Humane Society of Sullivan County has seen a spike in adoption rates (including Tallie!). A big thanks to Miranda Hay for taking the time to share her amazing story and for her dedication to helping pets find their forever homes through positive pet photography! You too can connect with your local shelter here and train online with our Learning Videos. Remember, One Picture Saves a Life!


Gary Lura, Pet Rescuer

Gary LuraOne Picture Saves a Life enthusiast Gary Lura got involved in pet rescue shortly after his family’s adopted dog of 12 years passed away. It was in her late senior years that Gary realized the family had few photos of their beloved pet, so he took action by reaching for a digital point-and-shoot camera and started taking photos. After the passing of this long time friend, Gary and his wife started volunteering and fostering dogs with the organization they had adopted her (and pair of kittens) from: Adopt-A-Pet of Fargo/Moorhead (ND/MN).

This is when Gary realized how much he enjoyed volunteering as well as the photography aspect of the work. Gary tells us:

“Eventually I picked up a used DSLR and started to actively learn more about photography and advance my skills. Most of the photography I did was for Adopt-A-Pet, photographing pets we had in the program and doing photo fundraisers. A couple of years ago, my wife helped start a local cat shelter, Cats Cradle Shelter (Fargo, ND), so I started doing photos there as well. Today, I still volunteer with Adopt-A-Pet and am a member of their board, and continue to volunteer at Cats Cradle as a photographer.

Cats Cradle Shelter has developed a very large following on Facebook (over 13,000 followers, the vast majority outside of our Fargo/Moorhead area) and the photos I take for them and post on their Facebook page gets the cats (and shelter) a ton of exposure. The photos have definitely brought in potential adopters that were attracted to a particular cat via their photo. People have driven from other communities across North Dakota and even driven from the Twin Cities (four hours away) to meet cats whose pictures ‘spoke’ to them.

We receive many positive comments about the photos online. But I’ve learned the benefit of good photos isn’t just limited to helping a pet get adopted. The photos get the organization greater exposure as fans share them with their friends. They are also used in the shelter’s literature, thank you cards, and at fundraisers or local events where the shelter has set up a booth to promote the shelter and adoption to others. For Adopt-A-Pet, we also leverage photography for an annual pet photo fundraiser.”

Although Gary has been unable to attend a One Picture Saves a Life Workshop, he has taken advantage of the online resources available on our website. Gary states:

“I heard of One Picture Saves a Life via Petfinder and immediately got drawn in and watched all the videos. It seems so obvious that a good photo will only increase a pet’s chances of getting adopted, yet when you look around at photos of adoptable pets, many times the photos don’t present the pets as well as they could. That’s why I think One Picture Saves a Life is such a great program and doing great things. In today’s world, a person looking for a pet is going to turn to searching online first. That first impression they get from viewing a pet has to be a good one.

The better the photo and description, the greater chance that pet has for being adopted. One Picture Saves a Life opens up opportunities for volunteers interested in photography and making a difference at their local rescue organization or shelter. It provides them the tools, knowledge, and confidence to bring out the best in an adoptable pet through photography, as well as grooming to prep the pet to look its best. The work of One Picture Saves a Life is going to save more adoptable pets, period. Regardless of skill level behind the camera, I think there is something to learn for everyone based on the videos I’ve seen.”

Thank you Gary for all of your hard work saving lives through positive photography! Anyone who is inspired by Gary’s efforts can connect with their local shelter here and train online with our Learning Videos. Remember, One Picture Saves a Life!