Vickie Holt, a volunteer photographer at Angels of Assisi Animal Shelter, has taken a photograph that has not only garnered international attention from other professional photographers, but has inspired some to emulate her volunteerism at their own local animal shelters and her original innovations are giving them an excellent start.
“Catherine”” is one of the 60+ cats rescued in September from a Bedford home in September. Her photograph, taken in her pet carrier, was not only recognized as a “Photo of the Day” in October, but on November 17 it won Second Place in an international contest hosted by BetterPhoto.com, an online community of professional and semi-professional photographers from around the world. There were over 185,000 entries, worldwide.
After the “Photo of the Day” announcement, many member photographers made comments, and Vickie was able to tell the story of the rescue and how she volunteers her services to her local shelter.
The photograph and the story then inspired some to begin volunteering at their local shelters. Vickie has offered them advice on how to work in a shelter atmosphere, but the most interesting tool she has given them is an original innovation she developed through trial and error at Angels of Assisi: the kitten studio. A plastic storage bin, 3 yards of white fleece and two shop lights allows Vickie to photograph kittens and many cats with ease, making each photograph appear as though it had been shot in a professional studio. In the hands of new volunteers, such as Leslie Carson Wolfe of Merrium, Kansas, the invention is proving its metal.
Since realizing that good photography in an animal shelter increases adoption rates (therefore saving more lives) it has been Vickie’s mission to try and spread the practice across the nation.
To this end, she is currently writing a book outlining her tips, tricks and original techniques for taking great photos in an animal shelter setting. She hopes that the book will not only inspire other photographers to help, but might also be a helpful guide for shelters that find themselves without a volunteer photographer.
The unexpected notoriety of Catherine’s photograph has given her a new avenue to try and spread the very rare practice of semi-professional photography for animal shelter websites. She has been able to speak directly to other professional photographers and inspire them. The importance of having good website photographs is very low on the list of priorities for almost all animal shelters in the country. Only a handful has recognized how crucial good photographs are.
Today, many people shop online first and only venture out once they’ve found something they’d like to investigate further. Vickie has proven that better online photos get animals adopted and she says she wonders how many animals have lost their lives in the past 10 years because of poor photography.
For more information about Vickie visit betterphoto.com, search Vickie Holt, view the gallery and choose the picture titled “Out of the Darkness, Into the Light.”