In times of economic hardship it is often the family pet that finds itself a victim of the cuts in its carer’s domestic budget. The RSPCA absorbs this additional intake alongside the continuing cases of neglect, abandonment and plain bad luck (pets get lost, owners pass away).
When I approached the York branch of the RSPCA with an offer to take portraits of their animals looking for adoption the newly appointed manager, Kim, was enthusiastic and saw it as serendipitous timing as she was keen to incorporate social networking into the process of re-homing and this would require a regular stream of good quality images.
The objective I set myself was to shoot portraits that gave no hint as to the animals’ surroundings and circumstance, so the prospective carer could see them as a potential pet rather than simply a victim. It would still be necessary for their stories to be told and carers made aware of the specific requirements and needs they may have but I wanted the picture to stand alone and let their character and charm come through. I persuaded Kim that their conference room could be painlessly turned into a studio and that such a setting would help enormously in creating the right images.
Several months have passed now and I am collecting a library of photographs that I am proud of. The success is measured in the fact that with the help of their Facebook page and new website the portraits are reaching a far wider audience and the animals are getting their chance to shine and look their best. Kim tells me that reservations and adoptions are well up and their ‘We’ve found a home’ collection is much larger than the ‘We’re looking for a home’ one.