This time last year I was inspired by a video I saw online of a fashion photographer, Richard Phibbs, from New York that had given his time for free to a local Dog Homing charity; using his style and name to help spread the word and help find some of the dogs new homes. The results were superb, the photos were great and the exposure worked for those dogs and it was just the thing I had been looking for to channel my spare time and give something back – my 2017 New Year’s Project.
There was only one small issue, in that I wasn’t a big famous photographer with a few million followers, nor do I regard myself as a big shot tog, but I knew I could take a photograph and I knew with a little bit of help I could make a small difference and even if it resulted in only one re-home it would be worth it.
So I contacted Dogs Trust in the UK to see if they could make use of me and whether I could eventually create something that would also show these wonderful dogs in a new light that helped them find their #foreverhome. The media and PR people wrote straight back and put me in touch with two lovely ladies, Emma & Helen from Shrewsbury branch. Emma, a crazy cool lady in charge of media was just the ticket, she got what I was trying to do and at the same time knew how to make the best use of me and my time to help them too – perfect! Helen in charge of all volunteers was just awesome, full of warmth and care and always made me welcome whenever I was onsite.
It wasn’t long before they put me to some use, and we started to schedule some meet ups and some mini photoshoots. Little did I know how difficult that first shoot was going to be! I was under strict instructions to not return from the visit with a boot-full of furry friends, as I was beginning to long for another dog but boy was it hard! There was just so many wonderful characters, some with amazing stories, some with sad stories, but all of them with an abundance of love just pouring from their eyes as I pointed my lens towards them.
To be perfectly honest the first shoot was not that great, my work was well below par and I could not quite tell why – I think it was the emotion of being there, the reality of their stories right in front of me and wanting to make that difference. Not to mention getting to grips with a completely different working environment. There was a tonne of rules/guidelines to adhere to in order for the photos to be of any use to the Dogs Trust – something I just hadn’t even considered. Who knew!! How was I going to imprint my style of photography within these boundaries and make that difference?
The 2nd shoot was much more like it, I was properly on my game and having a blast with the dogs – they were absolute stars as if they knew what I was trying to do; showing off their athletic abilities, standing proud and wagging those tails. Over the following 7 months Emma and Helen were full of ideas and I returned many times to help them with various shoots and concepts they wanted for various forms of media projects. During that time I received updates on the successful rehoming of some of the dogs I’d met along the way. It was just great to hear that they’d found a home and were living a much better life.
It was superb fun, I learnt a lot, I met loads of different dogs and people and I got a real buzz from using my photography to help them. It felt like I was making a small bit of difference – and selfishly I was taking a lot of reward from it too.
Over that time I did manage to capture some shots for my own little project/goal for doing this in the first place. I hoped to create a short video of the wonderful dogs I met on my journey that could do with a little help in finding a forever-home where their love was rewarded with returned love.
As I mentioned, I’m a very small fish in a very big Tog pond but I was so proud of all those that helped me to get this video to a reach of over 110,000 people, and currently has been watched just over 20,000 times! The power of that share button!
The best moment for me was when I was asked to photograph their Summer Fun day, and I met the new owners of a dog I’d photographed at the beginning of the year, they’d spotted her as a result of my work. It made all the time worthwhile and proof that a small good deed has a big ripple effect.
I’m delighted that most of the dogs in my video have been re-homed, and so the video will continue to a good deed if you carry on sharing it – there are so many amazing dogs just waiting for you to find them. You or someone you know might think let’s help one of these dogs and trust me they will pay that back 10 fold! They will bring so much to your life and happiness. Hat’s off to all the staff and volunteers at the Dogs Trust who all do an amazing job.
A simple share of the video might just find a new home for a furry face and bring happiness to someone life 🙂
Thank you Richard Phibbs for the inspiration to go do this! Check out his amazing work (www.richardphibbs.com) and his brilliant book Rescue Me!
Thank you to Dogs Trust for having faith in my work, especially to Emma and Helen – it was great working with you. You can visit the Dogs Trust website for Shrewsbury and all their other centres by clicking on the image below and take a look to see if there’s a furry face that connects with you 🙂
Especially this section of their site that has a wealth of information about rehoming dogs, the ins and outs of dog ownership and helpful advice.