So what is a day like at the shelter when I go for pictures. It is usually only about 3-4 hours that I am at the shelter but it feels like so much more!
I start the day with coffee, always coffee. I especially need it on shelter days. I make sure my Fitbit is on to count all the steps I take. Jeans, t-shirt, and my chacos on and I am ready. I make the either 20 or 40 minute drive to the shelter. I bring in all my equipment. I have managed a way to get it all in one trip but I look like a pack mule walking into the shelter. I set up my backdrop and lights and get ready. I then go and pick the dogs that need pictures. At the OKC shelter they have kennel cards on a bulletin board. I look at the existing pictures that they have for the dogs. I look for ones that are in a kennel for the pictures, ones where they look so scared, or ones that are just bad and blurry. When an animal comes into the shelter they take a picture on their intake. It helps them keep track of all the animals and make sure they have the right animal to the number. So most of the pictures that they get aren’t very good.
So once I have my list of which animals we are photographing that day it is time to get to work. I walk to their kennel. Say hi to them through the plexi glass then open the door and get them on my leash. We then walk, run, or crawl back to the room where we are set up. I usually just sit on the floor for awhile and let them get used to me. I throw them treats, love on them, or just let them sniff. I let them do whatever they need to, to feel comfortable. That is the key to good images is the dogs being comfortable with us. Once I feel they have loosened up it is time to get the image. I will make noises, kissy sounds, squeak a toy, or just use treats to get them looking at me. I love getting fun bloopers in the process and love getting some fun shots after the one that will be used for their profile. After we got all images that we want it is time to take them back. We walk back to their kennel and put them back in. I always have a sense of hope when I put them back in. Hoping that maybe, just maybe this picture will be what it takes to get them adopted. I hope that their stay in that kennel is short and their new home will be loving.
We then start the process all over with the next dog, and so on and so forth. It is usually an exhausting few hours. I just described the best case scenario which only happens about 30% of the time. In later posts I will talk about when things don’t go as planned.
If you want to help out too just contact your local shelter. I know almost all of them need volunteers. They need people to walk dogs, clean kennels,fold laundry, or just be another body to help with whatever is need.
Here are some of the images we have been able to capture over the last few months. These dogs are from the OKC Shelter and the Edmond Shelter.