My first shoot for 2018 was with the highly adoptable Luke, a 6 month old sweetheart being fostered with Staffy and Bully Breed Rescue (SABBR). I haven’t blogged about a Shutter Paws shoot before, so I thought I’d give a run down of how it works for me.

That probably starts with a bit of a blurb about Shutter Paws itself. Shutter Paws is a collective of volunteer photographers who donate their time and skills to take photographs of rescue animals needing new homes.  There are a few dedicated individuals who wrangle all of this as administrators, liaising with the various rescue groups and fosters carers and allocate photographers according to area and availability.  Given that there are rescues and carers all over the metro area that’s a lot of wrangling and they do an amazing job.

Most photo shoots are at the home of a foster carer, or nearby park or beach. Well, I’m yet to photograph a cat at the beach, but you get the idea. We also visit adoption days, fundraising events and some boarding kennels to capture the action there.

Apart from the innate joy of trying to get a cute picture of a black cat hiding under a bed in a dark room (surprisingly some of the foster cats aren’t natural super models) the Shutter Paws experience is as rewarding for the volunteer Togs as it is for the cats, dogs, bunnies, chickens and the occasional pig in need of a home. The volunteer group in particular provides a wealth of support, tips, laughs and general encouragement no matter where you are in your photographic journey. It helps new photographers to develop the confidence to walk into an unknown environment and come away with images that will hep that little soul find a new home. Or a crippling need to organise a reshoot – been there, done that in the early days.

So if you’re a photography enthusiast with some time to help, drop them a line. they are always on the lookout for new tribute – I mean talent.

Back to Luke.

I’d photographed for Luke’s carer’s before, so it was an easy couple of text messages to sort out a time to visit. They have a big back yard, with fairly long grass so I made sure to take an antihistamine before I went (Polaramine sales have skyrocketed since I started this as I have allergies to both grass and cats, so have to dose up for most shoots). My kit for outdoor dogs is a Canon 7D ii which has a high frames per second (fps) to catch the action, a 24-70mm and a 70-200 lens, a couple of kinds of squeakers / noise makers and a a fully stocked treat bag. I take both lenses because some dogs want to be right up in  your grill, while others prefer to have a bit more personal space.  Pays to be prepared for both eventualities.

It had been a warm day so we’d opted for a 5pm shoot.  It was still pretty warm, but not stupidly so. Luke’s carer greeted me at the door and we headed on out the back. Her own dog and Luke were waiting outside for us and I got an enthusiastic welcome with tail wagging and a good sniff down. I put my gear down to say a proper hello. While doing this the carer and I chatted a bit about Luke – How long had he been with them – about 2 weeks; How old did they think he was? – about 6 months; How was he getting on with with his foster sister? – great; Has he had the snip yet? – Yes, just a week ago; Isn’t he a handsome boy? – Oh yes he is.

I offered Luke a treat from my treat dag. and got him to sit. Great! “He doesn’t really get treats” Kell told me. Not that he isn’t offered them, he just doesn’t really understand them. Lo and behold Luke then dropped the slightly slobbery treat on the ground and looked up at me smiling. Having a variety of treats on hand is essential and we quickly established that liver treats were another story and we were off and running. Well, less running and more lounging in the grass for the most part. Even better.

Luke was friendly, and very gentle for his age. He was happy for a little play with toys and a bit of a romp, but his favourite thing to do was to lie in the long grass and commando crawl forward, letting the grass rub against his belly. Normally that meant he was commando crawling towards me so I had to get my backwards shimmy going on.

30 minutes later we had a range of shots for his adoption profile and we were both ready to get back into air conditioning. Home to edit, upload and email off to the rescue. What a great way to kick the year off.

If you’re interested in adopting Luke, contact SABBR. I believe they are having a well deserved Christmas break, so be patient if you don’t hear back straight away.


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