SHELTER PORTRAITS: MINNIE

Minnie is an adoptable pit mix currently sheltered at the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter

I’ve worked with a lot of dogs from the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter in the past few years, and I’ve bonded with a lot of them and followed their post adoption stories, but this is the first time that the volunteers have given me the awesome and special responsibility of actually naming one of these adorable pups — so I’d like to introduce you all to my friend Minnie — this one’s special to me.

She may look like a little puppy, but believe it or not Minnie is a little older, She’s one of those dogs that’s always going to have that “forever puppy” look. She was surrendered to the shelter by her previous owner, and while she plays very well with her friends at the shelter it is still recommended that this pit mix be adopted into a home with no other small dogs, as she can be a bit energetic and rambunctious when playing. Otherwise she is a sweet, happy, and curious girl who bonds quickly with people.  She hasn’t been at the shelter long, but I’m sure that with your help we will be able to find her a new home in no time.

Help spread the world about this sweet adoptable girl by sharing this post or her Petfinder page — where you can find all the relevant info about meeting or even adopting her.

Minnie is an adoptable pit mix currently sheltered at the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter

ASHA SANCTUARY

Donkey photographed at Asha Farms Animal Sanctuary in Newfane NY

I love the work I do with rescue dogs — it’s incredibly rewarding to me and it helps to find new homes for wonderful dogs who have come out of some really bad situations — but all too often we lose sight of the other animals that face abuses in our world. The ones that need help and are commonly denied it because we have institutionalized the disconnection we have from our traditional food sources — the “meat comes from the store” mentality. We have become the largest consumers of meat in the world, and have over-industrialized much of our agricultural production. Because of this, many of us have never seen a cow or chicken up close, let alone considered the impact they have on our day-to-day lives or how our habits of consumption affect their wellbeing and ethical treatment. While not everyone may agree with eating meat, or conversely with living a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle — I think that it’s important to acknowledge that there are people trying to change the lives of these animals for the better.

Asha is a farm and livestock sanctuary in Newfane, NY that has been rescuing and giving a long-term home to livestock and working animals that have faced illness, abuse, and near slaughter. They have been in operation since 2012 when former HSBC Bank executive Tracy Murphy, spurred on by her research into abusive farming practices and animal research, left her job to start the small shelter farm that quickly grew into Asha Sanctuary and its associated vegan and cruelty-free foodways education programs. Tracy has amassed quite a group of animals at Asha, many saved at the last second from auction or slaughter. I’d been looking to work with a more diverse selection of animals and I was focused on finding a group that was involved in rescue or animal rehabilitation. Asha Sanctuary’s name kept popping up over and over again in my research, and serendipitously Tracy reached out to me at almost the same time to inquire about the possibility of creating some new animal images to use in Asha’s fundraising and educational materials — so it was something of a perfect match.

Cornish Game Hen photographed at Asha Farms Animal Sanctuary in Newfane NYCow photographed at Asha Farms Animal Sanctuary in Newfane NY

We worked with Albert, a young calf who was rescued at just a day old —abandoned and separated from his mother and found with his umbilical cord still attached. Albert was in bad shape until he was nursed back to health at Asha by Tracy, where he now has the chance to be the playful and sweet animal he has grown into. Seeing him run around the pasture, eat fruit, and chase the other animals reminded me so much of the way my dogs act. Albert has a great affinity for people and the attention they give him, coming right up alongside you and rubbing his head against your hand until you pet him. It’s amazing to see how much he has imprinted on Tracy and how affectionate he was towards my team – essentially acting like a big puppy the whole day.

Turkey photographed at Asha Farms Animal Sanctuary in Newfane NY

Another one of our favorite subjects was Abraham — A turkey who was rescued from slaughter by another sanctuary before coming to Asha. He has been debeaked and wasn’t in the best health when he was first rescued due to the cramped quarters he had been living in. But much like Albert, living at Asha has given Abraham a whole new outlook on life as he can roam the property and freely interact with the visitors and other animals. He also has a thing about shoelaces, as he managed to untie mine three or four times during the course of the shoot at Asha.

Michael the goat from Asha Sanctuary in Newfane NY

Finally, Michael is a young goat whose main interest in life seem to be head-butting me every chance he got. I really wish we had grabbed some video, because he was like a little ninja, coming out of nowhere to bop me whenever he could. It’s pretty normal for goats, especially young ones like him, but it certainly made for an entertaining day of dodging him and having my assistants watch my back to make sure the little guy wasn’t trying to sneak up on me to show me he was the boss. It was actually pretty cute, like a little kid who thinks he’s a tough guy.

You can visit Asha during any of their open hours to meet and bond with these wonderful animals. You can also help sponsor the care and treatment of individual animals as many of their newer residents have ongoing medical needs due to the their previous treatment and neglect at the hands of others.

Red Chicken photographed at Asha Farms Animal Sanctuary in Newfane NY

FEATURE: BIRCH IS ON THE COVER OF SHUTTERBUG MAGAZINE

Shutterbug Cover

My portrait of my little friend Birch is on the cover of Shutterbug Magazine this month!

(This is the part where you envision me doing a dramatic and triumphant slow motion fist pump right now)

Maria Piscopo interviewed Isaac Howard, Tim Courtney, Cathy Greenblat, and myself about our work with various charities, non-profits, and volunteer organizations. It covers the ins and outs of what can go right and wrong when donating your time and work and features some of my favorite rescue dog images from the past year.

When I first started photographing dogs it was just something I was going to try for fun so I could make some portraits of my dogs for my fiancee, but it’s turned into a huge part of my business and my life over the last year as I’ve been working with both rescue animals and on advertising campaigns in the veterinary industry. I hope more photographers will start to donate their time to local shelters, as good portraits really help people connect with these animals’ personalities and greatly aid adoption efforts.

You can support and learn more about the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter here. 

You can also support great organizations like notabully.org to help change minds about pit bulls and work to end breed specific discrimination. 

SHELTER PORTRAITS: ROXY

Roxy is an adult female Terrier/Shepherd mix who is currently at the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter hill she waits for adoption by a new and loving family.

I was so sad when I had to put my shelter portraits on a brief hiatus at the end of 2014 – we were undergoing some major renovations at the studio, and didn’t want the pups to have to hang out in the extremely cold space while we installed a brand new heating system (just in time for one of the coldest winters in Buffalo’s history – it’s been post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie cold the last few weeks with the temperatures dipping as low as -10.) But now I’m back into the swing of being able to create new adoptions portraits for these very specials dogs and actually use my photography to help them find amazing new homes.

Roxy is my first shelter portrait of 2015. She’s an adult terrier/shepherd mix who is being taken care of by the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter while she waits for the perfect family to give her a new home. She’s a sweet girl who loves to run and play, and was so excited to explore the studio and get to play with the crew on the day she came for her session. Roxy has been at the shelter since last June, where because of an unfair stigma regarding black dogs she often gets overlooked when people are seeking to adopt a new pet (which is their loss – because Roxy is marvelous!). It was so awesome to get to see her have some fun before and after her shoot  – and despite being a pretty energetic dog, she was so well behaved during the shoot, which worked out great for us, because this was the first animal shoot we’ve done with the new Medium Format camera system.

So often when I talk to people about adopting an animal there is a compulsion for them to gravitate towards adopting younger dogs and puppies, but there are a lot of benefits to adopting an adult dog. – many already have some training (and in general are easier to train), they are affectionate, settle in to new homes quickly, and their energy levels are a little more even. Roxy is a great example of a fun loving but relaxed adult dog that would be an amazing addition to a caring family.

If you or someone you know could give Roxy the home she’s looking for please get in touch with the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter – the family that adopts Roxy will also receive a $50.00 gift card from Elmwood Pets so they can stock up on toys and treats for this cutie.

You can read more about Roxy on her Petfinder page or even see her on TV here.

SHELTER PORTRAITS: DARLA

Darla20141128-1025-Edit

Meet Darla, a three-year-old Mastiff in Buffalo, NY that is looking for an awesome family to adopt her this holiday season. Currently she is in a foster program run by the HEART Animal Rescue and Adoption Team. Darla looks so much like one of my own dogs (Akasha – who was a rescue as well, and I’m pretty sure that Darla is a Boerboel just like her) that I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to help her out once I heard her story.

Darla has been adopted and returned twice through no fault of her own (changing circumstances did not allow the families to keep her in the long-term). Right now Darla is staying with a really great foster family, but because of her issues with cats and other animals she has to stay in the heated garage most of the time. The volunteers at HEART and her foster family have been working their butts off to find a great new owner and a warm fireplace for this tiny (for a mastiff) lady to curl up by for the holidays. Thankfully, once the new portraits I created of her hit Facebook and Twitter, her story was shared hundreds of times in just a few days. She still hasn’t been placed with a new home yet, but I’m hoping that if you are in the Buffalo, NY area and are looking for an amazing pet, or know a deserving family who is you will help spread the word about Darla’s situation and make her holidays marvelous.

She’s very sweet and affectionate, but she doesn’t always get along with cats (who can blame her – I don’t get along with them either) or other dogs very well. However, she is amazing with less furry, more human children, and would make an amazing addition to a family looking for that perfect first pet. People are really dedicated to helping Darla and because of that a friend of the foster family has agreed to pay the $150.00 adoption fee, in addition to that kick-ass donation I’m offering up to $100.00 for the new family to sign up for training classes in the Buffalo area with Darla after she is adopted as a great way to bond with her and get to know each other better. She’s up to date on shots, is heart worm negative, spayed, housebroken, crate trained, already microchipped, and devastatingly cute.

You can find more info on her at her Petfinder page.

SHELTER PORTRAITS: BIRCH

Birch - PitbullThe most rewarding thing I have done with my photography in the last year is to help find loving homes for some of Buffalo’s many adoptable but homeless rescue dogs. After being taken in by the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter a lot of these dogs needs a good portrait to help with adoption efforts and to provide a vehicle to help get the word out about their individual stories. Those among you that follow me on social media or live in Western New York have likely seen many of these dog’s portraits being shared on Facebook or promoted by shelter volunteers and animal lovers all over the region. I’m now going to be sharing some select images from this project every month on my blog as well. Erin and I have three dogs of our own at home, two of which are rescues, and one of them came from this very shelter. Continue reading “SHELTER PORTRAITS: BIRCH”

Required Reading

CLIPTIPr

A great source of visual inspiration for photographer and video artists. CLIPTIPr is an amazingly well curated and regularly updated collection of music videos and video art with the occasional promotional video and commercial thrown in.Often on the cutting edge of production and style, the collection also includes the occasional classic video that still carries impact, style, and mood today. Great for a daily visual treat from a variety of styles.

The Launch Coach

With all the marketing consultants, productivity experts, planning coaches, and inspirational writers out there espousing their own unique philosophy, so many seem to overlap into the same touchy-feely crap that borders on sounding more like an excerpt from The Secret rather than practical and intelligently though out advice and planning. There are a few that have stood out to me over the years: Leslie Burns, Steven Pressfield, and Seth Godin. Added to that list is Dave Navarro, the Launch Coach. I’ve found a series of practical and free articles on his website featuring info on networking strategies that are outside the norm, ideas for building revenue streams, and influential pieces on dealing with self sabotage. You may have seen his writing on other blogs, such as Freelance Switch and Freelance Folder

The Mix – Photo Shelter

A great and must read article by consultant Selina Maitreya about putting together a successful mix of marketing channels to help get your work out there in front of the right people. Paraphrasing won’t do it justice, so just go read it.