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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.