Producing a life-saving portrait sounds like the ultimate pipe dream of a photographer. But the nonprofit Shelter Me Photography is doing just that.

With photography, the organization captures sheltered animals in a way that boosts their adoption rates. They do this by providing their own professional photography services to shelters, as well as teaching volunteers, through workshops, how to capture these images themselves. The resulting images are literally saving a life.

Who needs a sad song and celebrity endorsement? A quality photo will get the job done.

Executive director and Co-founder Nanette Martin, a professional photographer, formed the nonprofit in 2009, and now travels around the country leading workshops.

From their site:

“Each year, an estimated 7.6 million pets enter the shelter system in America. Nearly 70% never make it out alive. Shelter Me Photography is committed to saving homeless pets by changing society’s perception of them with pictures that touch hearts, change minds, and save lives.”

The low-to-no cost workshops, taught by Martin, offer photography techniques and image editing, as well as tips on how to connect with the animals.

The portraits themselves, which are funded entirely by donation, involve professional photographers going to the shelter directly and taking shots of the animals. They then process the images, provide files to the shelter, and share the photos via their Facebook.

Just being adorable might help too 🙂

It’s an awesome concept that provides a new and interesting way to use photography in a positive, life changing way. The online presence of the company, however, does seem to be lacking.

Though the “hands-on” angle that the company  embodies—with Martin herself leading the workshops, and sending their own photographers to shelters—is admirable, the impact of it all, especially in 2018, could be more widespread. A YouTube page, for example, with tutorials and information, could potentially be just as effective as a real-life workshop.

That being said, technology doesn’t always beat the real thing and, considering Martin has photographed more than 10,000 shelter animals since 2005, she might know what she is doing.


Cover Photo by Matthew Henry

Photograph 1 by Jarrod Reed

Photograph 2 by Koen Eijkelenboom