That Time I Was A “Pho-dog-rapher”

Yes, I am wearing a tiara in that picture. No, I have no clue why.

I wore a number of different hats during my eight years of volunteer service with the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services (DAS). I was a video producer, marketer, social media manager, dog walker, mentor for new volunteers, and a photographer, which I affectionately refer to as “pho-dog-raphy.”

The shelters rely on quality animal photography in an effort to appeal to the public. The idea is that a potential adopter goes on the DAS website, sees a wonderful photo of Bob the dog, and simply can’t resist coming in to meet him. A picture truly is worth a thousand words.

My time as a shelter “pho-dog-rapher” began because I was having problems at work. At some time in 2017, my company was having an open house and our events manager tasked me with photographing the event. She totally believed in me and said I’d do a great job. My boss, on the other hand, I felt had slighted me, and didn’t think I would be able to do it. Whether that was true or not, I do not know, but that’s how I felt.

I decided that I should get some practice in before the big night and that’s where I thought, hey, I could take some pictures of the shelter dogs! I arrived to the shelter with my DSLR and took a dog named Rocket out into one of the pens. As the first dog I had ever formally photographed, I couldn’t have asked for a better subject. This guy PUT ON A SHOW!

Note: right click and open in new tab for full view.

Rocket gave me the confidence boost I direly needed. The other dogs I photographed that day weren’t as agreeable, but right off the bat Rocket reminded me that, yes, I have a visual eye and I can do this. This was the first and only time I ever saw Rocket as he was adopted shortly thereafter. I hope he’s still mugging for the camera, wherever he is.

Anyway, here’s a collection of portraits from my “pho-dog-raphy” archives:

At some point, I became fascinated with action shots, which my camera had a specific setting for. I started simple, notably with water splashes from a fella named Kringle:

Then I got the idea that shooting the patented post-bath shakes would be absolutely hilarious. So:

Then I became intrigued with capturing dogs playing with toys, rolling on their backs, and making funny faces:

I took a ton of pictures of my beloved Jenny over the years and, as of this writing, whipped out my DSLR for the first time yesterday to take some of Jodie:

The photo of Jenny was actually taken before my practice session with Rocket, and now dons her memorial. So, in a way, I guess she was giving me the confidence I needed all along. Taking photos of Jodie yesterday was a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to take more.

And in case you’re wondering: the photos for the company open house were awesome.