Itʼs been far too long since I last updated about my work with the adoptables at the MSPCA at Nevins Farm.
I am closing in on my first year volunteering at the shelter. And looking back on all of my time spent there puts the kind of smile on my face that you just can’t fake.
I spend each and every Wednesday up at the shelter photographing all different kinds of perfect faces. Each with a different story. Each with a different reason for the sudden and confusing change in their lives. And each with a heart the size of a barge.
I work with a small team of incredibly talented and dedicated volunteers at the shelter. Together, we manage the shelter’s PetFinder database. Each of us has a distinct task. We organize, write, update and photograph. We are single handedly responsible for these dogs’ exposure to the general public.
Of course, my area of expertise and contribution to the team are the photographs.
Itʼs important to never ever underestimate the power of a photograph. From the moment these animals come through the shelter doors, until the minute they leave – they are so incredibly loved and adored by the amazing cast of staff and volunteers. But that doesnʼt change the fact that these sweet, patient animals donʼt have a voice of their own.
So this is where the photos come in. These photos, in many cases, are the one shot these animals will get to communicate their stories with the outside world. They are the only opportunity to get potential adopters to stop scrolling through the endless listings of homeless animals and focus – if for only a moment – on their sweet faces. All too often you see shelter photos that just don’t represent that animal accurately. Sometimes, they’re taken through the bars of a cage. Sometimes they’re taken too soon – while that animal is still terrified of his new, foreign surroundings. Sometimes they’re dark or blurry. You get the idea. It’s tough to get the right photo. It takes time and patience and lots and lots of passion. It’s not always going to be the first photo you snap. Sometimes it’s not even the 100th photo you snap. But if you are willing to give that animal the time and space it needs to open up and let his or her personality come brilliantly shining through – then you’re in business. It will be real and authentic and so full of joy. When you get the right shot – you’ll know it.
And of course, when people take subpar photos of shelter animals it’s always with good intentions – but the first impression is the most important one. Its the one that is going to get potential adopters off of their couches and into their cars. Its the one that will prompt someone to drive 50 miles to the shelter to visit the dog with the shining eyes and waggling tongue. It’s the one that could mean the difference between life and death.
So when I photograph the adoptables at Nevins Farm, my aim is to let their personalities do the talking – to showcase those happy, unique little quirks that make these animals who they are. They are each so individual and remarkable and loving in their own perfect way. My job is to get people in the door. That’s all we need. Once the a potential adopter makes it in to the shelter and finally gets that dog into their arms – my work is done. The dog will take it from there. She will do the rest – and she will do it well. She will wag and lick and cuddle her way right into their hearts. She is the single best salesperson for herself. And I have so much faith in that – if I get the people to walk through the door – the rest is history.
Anyhow, have a look at these beautiful faces!
The following dogs are just some of the many adoptables I’ve photographed over the past few months at Nevins Farm. Each and every one of them has touched me in such a remarkable way. And I keep each one of their stories in my heart as I travel through my days…
If I haven’t mentioned that I have an amazing assistant named Doug – I’ll mention it now! And boy oh boy did Bella love him! It’s kind of a dream gig – I just keep him around to get kissed by puppies all day…
SKY AND CHAMP
(the cutest brother/sister duo you’ve ever seen!!)…
And lastly, just another perfect day volunteering at the shelter. A photo of me and the incredible Rex. I make sure to get at least a dozen good cuddles from each dog before I finish their photo sessions.
Their love is so infinite. Despite everything. They know only good. I think we could stand to learn a lot from them.
I want to take a moment to thank the amazing team of volunteers that I work in collaboration with at Nevins Farm to keep these dogs where they need to be – in eyes of their potential rescuers. You are all so passionate, thorough and dedicated and I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with such wonderful people! (Doug, Marilyn, Meg, Pam, Nancy, Mike, Breanna, Jolene – this means you!)