A sizeable part of rescuing dogs is placing them in warm, loving homes. Outreach on Facebook and the main City Dogs Rescue website are critical to enriching lives of both, the dogs we rescue and the families we adopt to. A giant step in that process is making sure our dogs have good photos to attract the attention they deserve. And our volunteer photographers do a smashing job of helping us see these pups in all their adorable-ness. From photographing intakes, adoption events, and individual photo shoots at foster homes, our volunteer photographers add tremendous value to the work we do.
Not all of our photographers have made their careers in taking photos. We have graphic designers, professors, and even marketing executives. What they all have in common is a passion for helping rescue animals. Volunteer photographer, Hannele Lahti says, “I think a dog knows when they’ve been rescued. They just do. My goal as a photographer is to help find them good, loving homes as quickly as possible.” Rescue dogs, as you can imagine, have not had the easiest lives and when a simple photograph shows them to be optimistic, engaging and ready to love again, it makes any adopter eager to take a rescue dog home. Volunteer photographer Metta Chaphiv says that rescue dogs are one of her favorite subjects to photograph because there are always a wide range of personalities to capture, especially at adoption events. “It’s a joy of mine to see meaningful interactions between potential adopters and these pups because they’ve been through so much.”
What keeps these photographers coming back for more is, of course, the sheer amount of FUN that each photo shoot offers. Some photographers may not be allowed to have dogs where they live and in doing service to City Dogs Rescue, they get their canine fix. Others find joy in meeting foster parents and listening to their stories of their foster dog. Volunteer photographer Kristin Horgen says, “If I’m photographing a dog in a foster home, I meet the dog at the foster’s house. It’s always something different! After we’re done, they will thank me for taking the pictures. In my mind, however, they are the ones putting in the hard work.”
Each dog has his or her quirks and it’s always fun for a photographer to identify them and capture them. Kristin says, “Some dogs are really timid, some are immediate love bugs. It’s an exciting challenge to figure out how to best photograph a dog and make sure that their bright personalities shine through.” Volunteer photographer Emily Chow says her favorite part of her average photo shoot with a rescue dog is simply getting to hang out with the cutest dogs around. An interesting part of the photo shoot is how a dog might respond to a camera. Some stick their noses right in, others ignore it, and some even shy away. Hannele says her favorite part of photographing rescue dogs is that moment when the dog decides it’s okay to trust her by putting his/her head on her lap, shoulder, or even camera.
Another interesting part of photographing rescue dogs, especially knowing them immediately after rescuing, is seeing how far they’ve come after being adopted. Kristin recently had that opportunity with a litter of terrier puppies. She went to their foster’s house to take photos while they were still puppies and adoptable. A few months later, she photographed their reunion. “I think they were 6-8 weeks old when I first saw them. It was non-stop puppy cuteness. And it was so sweet to see their personalities already developing. A few months later, I got to photograph their litter reunion, their mom included. It was wild to see them as little adults with even bigger personalities!”
Each photographer has that one unforgettable photo shoot. For Kristin, it was her very first shoot with the Rescue. She had never photographed a rescue dog before and her first pup was a plot hound who was “unbelievably shy and timid. She had such a worried look on her face, she’d just come to the big city after all. She was all sweetness, I felt really privileged to play some small part in the process of her being adopted.” Metta’s most memorable photo shoot was of Baloo, formerly known as Brock. Baloo is a three-legged boxer mix who Metta met at an adoption event. “Despite having only three legs, that didn’t seem to deter his spirit and overall playfulness. When I volunteer to photograph these pups, I think of my own dog, Henry, and how these photos may help a CDR pup find their way into a loving home.”
Emily too, has photographed many sweet dogs but one in particular sticks out for her. “Adele (fka Sonic) takes the cake. I knelt down to start taking photos of her and she ran towards the lens like most of the dogs usually do, but she didn’t stop there. She leaned into me and started to nuzzle until I lost my balance. It made my day.”
Hannele recently photographed our holiday cards for us and she says that her photo shoot with Maddie is her favorite. “I had followed Maddie’s story last spring so I was excited to meet her and her family, Carlyn and Pat. The photo shoot went really well as dog shoots go. I call it controlled chaos. Pat and Carlyn worked really hard at keeping her attention with cheese treats and toys. Ultimately though, Maddie decided when Maddie was done. In mid-shoot, she walked over to my dog’s bed with her stuffed crocodile and my dog’s bumble bee. It was over. Modeling is hard work, they say. I think Maddie would agree.”
City Dogs Rescue & City Kitties volunteers.