Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My New Project

I have been photographing animals at Sacramento County Animal Control and Regulation since last August. And in that time, I have photographed hundreds of adorable and wonderful animals there. One day, I received a message on FB from a woman who adopted a dog from the shelter - she saw a picture that I took and fell in love. After reading that message, I had had a smile from ear to ear. All. Day. Long. Because I had, in some small way, helped save a life. I felt so unbelievably good... well, it is just indescribable.

In amassing all of these photos, I realized that I wanted to do something more, something bigger, to help these animals. An idea was born after talking with my friend Stefanie... she is the adopter of the very first animal I ever photographed at the shelter. I had offered to come to her house to photograph Millie in her new home, to show how great Millie's life is now. Stefanie made the comment that I should write a book. That very idea had been floating around in my head, but I wasn't brave enough to utter the words. Turns out Stefanie's comment was all the encouragement I needed. And just like that, my little project had wings. And I even have a name for it: Forever Home. Stories from the Shelter. Or something like that... Regardless of the title, I will donate proceeds from the book to the shelter which is suffering as a result of budget cuts.

I'll admit that I know nothing about publishing a book. I can write and I can take decent pictures. But how it all comes together is a mystery to me. Like most things I dive into, I figure I'll get all the details worked out as I go. My logic may be simple, but I figure that first step is to find families of animals that I have photographed at the shelter. Then I need to somehow convince them to allow me (and my loud camera) into their homes in order to document the transformation from shelter life to Forever Home life. Easy peasy, right?

I had my first photo session today with an adorable little cat named Ginger. Here is my shelter photograph from January 31, 2011:

The shelter had named her Jules and she had just about the saddest pair of eyes I had seen in a while. Fortunately for her, a wonderful family adopted her soon after this photograph was taken. I am happy to report that Ginger is thriving in her new home and her sad eyes have disappeared. I haven't gone through all the photos I took of her this morning, but I will show you a few of my favorites.

No more sad eyes!

And check out the custom cat tree her new daddy built for her:

Even though she is sticking her tongue out at me, I think she likes it.

Not at bad life for a kitty who started her life out as a stray. From a cage at the shelter, Ginger has moved into a home with custom furniture, ample sunshine, soft beds and a family who adores her. I have so much more to tell you about Ginger, but I am going to save that for my book :-)

I have a few more sessions scheduled in the next few weeks. But I am looking for more... lots more! I want to show people just how rewarding it is to adopt from a shelter - the more stories, the stronger the message. If I have photographed an animal that you have adopted from the shelter, and you would like to be a part of this project, please contact me via email nicole@nicolemcarthurphotography.com or through my Nicole McArthur Photography Facebook page. The session is complimentary and includes a DVD of the jpeg files - my little way of saying thank you.

And the animals say thank you, too.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The many faces of Kingston

This little man has as much personality as he has hair.

And for your information, Kingston had his first haircut several days after
these photos were taken. At seven weeks old.

My girls didn't have enough hair at 7 months for a haircut.

Love you little dude!

Friday, March 18, 2011

My girls

It may come as no surprise that I think my girls are adorable. There are times when I look at them and wonder how in the world Gary and I made such cute babies... am I the only mom who does this?

Spring is reluctant to be sprung, but that hasn't stopped me from thinking about some fun shoots with my girls. I have been planning a trip down to visit my parents who live in Bakersfield. While most people don't exactly consider Bakersfield a picturesque locale, it is quite lovely this time of year. Mostly because of the thousands of almond orchards that are in bloom - delicate pink blossoms as far as the eye can see. Despite rescheduling our trip (why do little kids seem to always get sick at the wrong time? as if there ever is a right time...) we were able to catch the tail-end of the bloom.

My dad scouted out the best orchards for days before our photo shoot and my mom was on hand to corral the kids as needed. After all these years, my parents are still supporting me and my dreams...

On our way out of town, the girls and I stopped at the Silver Spoon and picked up the most gorgeous frocks made by Room Seven. If you happen to be in Roseville, you should stop by as they have some of the cutest kid things ever!

Here are some of my favorite shots from that afternoon:

They are so cute together... especially when they are not fighting

Chloe looking fierce

Sister is pretty fierce, too!
Not looking forward to the teenage years.
Um, I think I am in trouble

I nearly died when I saw the back of this dress...
So. Stinkin'. Cute.

These boots were made for walkin'

California snow

My girls

Friday, March 4, 2011

Happy Birthday Kingston

I have this friend... actually, she is more like a long lost cousin. We are so much alike in so many ways - the fact that we are both named Nicole Marie is just a start. And like old friends, we are able to communicate volumes in just a few words or even just a sideways glance.

A few months ago, Nicole pitched me an idea. She was pregnant with her second child and was wondering if I would be willing to photograph the birth. Of course I said yes. Without a doubt. I have given birth twice before, and I have done numerous C-sections (on animals)... so I figured that being a passive observer would be easy. Besides, I figured since I wouldn't be the one dilating and contracting and pushing and tearing, it would be no sweat for me.

From a logistics standpoint, I got really lucky. Nicole was going to be induced, so I was able to arrange for child care. She gave me the play-by-play via text... ah, to give birth in the age of instant messaging. I arrived at the hospital around 10:30am and was greeted by Nicole, her husband Brian, her mom Phyllis and her stepdad David. What an amazing family - so open and loving... I felt like I had known them forever. Whatever concerns I had about intruding on their private family moment vanished as soon as I walked through the door.

I took about 2000 pictures that day. I probably would have taken more if it weren't for the hospital's rules, which included things like: no photos of the staff, no photos of procedures, no standing on the furniture. With all of those pictures, it was a bit difficult to decide which ones to share. So I chose a few of my favorites. I'll give the disclaimer now: if you are grossed out by pregnant bellies or the act of childbirth, you need to either exit this post muy pronto, or suck it up.

I'll stop talking now and let the photos show you the amazing event that unfolded on this day.

How did anyone ever give birth before the cell phone was invented?

Great Grandma Barbara wasn't able to be there physically,
so Phyllis gave frequent updates over the phone

I know this image is totally graphic, but it captures everything - Nicole's face shows the pain of childbirth, her mother-in-law's face shows the support and encouragement given by everyone. And little Kingston's face, in the bottom left corner, as he makes his debut.

First Kiss
Two small details I'd like to point out: 1) the tear in the corner
of Nicole's eye and 2) Kingston's tiny blue hands

Brian holding his son for the first time

Proud Grandma Chris in the background

Happy Birthday baby Kingston. You are loved.