Alexa – Shepard mix puppy, looking for a home
Volunteerism; it knocks on the edge of my mind, the where, the when, the how. Some feed the homeless, some offer legal services pro bono, some clean up the coast.
I reach for my camera, think of my love of animals, think of how so many don’t have homes. I can help, I tell myself. Make them look cute and cuddly. Capture their essence in a photo. Make them stand out in a crowd.
When I meet the dogs, I extend a hand for a nuzzle. I stoop down to their level, offer a soothing voice, tell them how cute they are. Their handlers tell them to sit, to stay, and I say, “No. Just let them be. I want their personality to come out.” I move when they move. I call the name they barely know. I whistle. I wait. I get dirty.
And I love every minute. The photos I create present them to the world, lure in the curious. My style evolves over time. I see how bright and happy and sparkling works best online, how tongues and smiles translate to adoption inquiries despite my love of the moody and the thoughtful images. But it’s not about me; it’s about the dogs and finding them homes.
Each time I photograph the homeless pets, I feel a combination of joy and sadness. Joy from time spent with them. Joy from trying to help. Sadness that I can’t offer them homes, that I can’t do more.
As photographers there are countless ways we can donate our services—capturing the brief life of a terminally ill child for the family or finding the charity of our choice that needs the gift of our photos.
Outside of photographing shelter animals, I’m always looking for opportunities to put my skills to use. It takes imagination, and I suspect that as a community we can build a list of ideas.
So here’s the question: how and where can you be a charitable photographer?
Picture and words courtesy of Honorary Sister /Guest Blogger Debbie Zeitman.