Monday, April 11, 2011

Chesapeake Dog Shelter: Images for Hope

As many are aware, I owe the rekindling in my interest of photography to some loveable mutts at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Control facility many years back. I had just moved to Charlotte and was slightly bored. During this time, I was still shooting film and would often travel to the mountains on weekends to hike the trails and shoot the waterfalls. It was a fun time filler but the drives were becoming longer each weekend and the expenses increasing. As far as photography, I was capturing some interesting images but nothing that really garnered any personal excitement.

One Saturday morning on a whim, I ended up driving out to the city animal shelter to see about volunteering. Honestly, I was there for less than noble purposes seeing it as an opportunity to meet other people in the area. The animals were really secondary in my mind. After talking with the volunteer coordinator for a bit and looking at some of the bad photos used for their adoption site, I got this idea that maybe I could help by leveraging my photography talents to produce images that made the dogs look more desirable. With hundreds of dogs passing through the shelter, the staff didn't have a lot of time to devote to taking images and a lot of the time, they relied on web cams captured at the time the dogs were brought into the facility. These grainy images sometimes had the dogs still attached to the catch pole, something that made them look more menacing than adoptable.

I discovered a lot about animal photography as well as myself during the next 2-years. I've covered this in previous posts regarding how to photograph your pets. What I discovered about myself...well, simply put, I discovered there was more to life than my own selfish desires. With a camera and some patience, I could truly make a difference in the community. The images that I created during that time helped improve the rate of adoptions from the shelter. I quickly moved into the digital age to make it easier and more efficient to get the images uploaded to the adoption sites. It wasn't long thereafter that people were seeking me out to take images of there furry family members.

In 2006, I left Charlotte and returned to Hampton Roads. I briefly volunteered at the VB Animal Control before work and life got in the way. It wasn't until the passing of Mahala last summer, my best friend that I adopted from CMPD, that I started thinking about how much I missed helping lost pets find good homes. So earlier this year, I started volunteering at the Chesapeake Animal Shelter and with the Chesapeake Humane Society. I had forgotten the amazing feeling of making the difference in an animal's life. With every click of the shutter, I'm reminded of just how precious life can be, whether it be a person or an animal. I'm looking forward to working with them for some time to come.

1 comment:

Brenda said...

...and one day you will hook me up with another wonderful companion to love and take orders from. It almost happened this weekend. I have to be very very careful. Your photos are pulling me in. Great work Trav.