Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets [H.E.L.P]
H.E.L.P. ia a rescue/foster group that places dogs and cats in “forever” homes. They adopt out through adopt-a-thons, at PetSmart and direct calls. This is the group that we adopted Nemo from a couple of years ago. I’ve been wanting to find a way to volunteer for this group for some time now. 2 years ago I tried to volunteer for one of the PetSmart positions. Unfortunately my travel schedule didn’t allow me to give them a regular time slot so it didn’t work out.
I always thought that using my camera would be good way to volunteer. Jill, the teacher of the photography class that I just completed, does portraits for the local animal groups in Phoenix. When I asked what she thought she encouraged me to pursue this idea. It’s a win-win for all; HELP gets photos they can use on their adoption materials, websites, etc and I get a kind of photography bootcamp for doing pet portraits. I also get to play with the animals. What can be better.
So I contacted the folks at help and volunteered to go to the foster homes, PetSmart, where-ever and photograph the animals. My contact recommended starting with the cat adopt-a-thon on 10 April. The adopt-a-thon was to be held a local bank in St Charles from 10:00 – 12:00.
We were set – I had my first real, official photo shoot. I was so excited I hardly slept the night before. Not sure what to expect I packed up everything – backgrounds, lights, cameras, a zillion batteries, cat toys, feathers….. I read more on lighting set ups and checked out pet portrait samples from other photographers. I even bought a package of animal training clickers – you know those little plastic things that make a clicking sound when you presss the button. I was hoping that would help me get the cats to look at me.
DAY OF THE SHOOT
When I arrive at the bank I carried in my “portfolio” and the email I received from the coordinator. I checked in the Marilyn, the woman organizing all the activities, told her who I was, why I was there and gave her my book to let her get a feel for the type photos I hoped to get for them. Then I carried everything in and set up. They had a large open room in the basement of the bank. At one end they had 4 rows of tables set up with 25 or so cats in cages. I set up at the opposite end of the room – away from all the activity and people. Initially I put a white background with 2 speedlights on stands; one with an umbrella and the other a 15″ softbox. Got out the toys and a clicker and was ready to rock and roll.
Now the fun begins..
The foster moms brought the cats over one at a time.