When CCP got the email that MCACC was suspending the volunteer program until further notice due to COVID-19, we were all devastated. We had so many questions. Several of our questions centered around networking the shelter dogs.  How will we be able to post pictures and videos of the shelter dogs to our various platforms without the constant flow of fresh digital content that we are accustomed to?

My search for ways to remotely help led to me talking with Sam from the MCACC West Behavior Team. We both wanted to find a way to share photos of adoptable dogs and we came up with a way to help each other accomplish this goal.  HeARTs Speak donated two DSLR cameras after they came out for the Perfect Exposure Project in November of 2018, but since DSLR cameras can be a little intimidating if you don’t know how to use them, they had been sitting unused for quite some time. I immediately got to work searching YouTube and the HeARTs Speak website and sent Sam and Paige, who is from the MCACC East Behavior Team, all the DSLR photography resources that I could find, as well as my own personal tips and tricks to help them take beautiful photos.

Adoptable Hank (MCACC West) #A4384106

After Sam and Paige reviewed all the information I sent and practiced at home, they put their new skill set to work and have been photographing adoptable dogs in between enrichment, assessments, playgroups, and their other regular job duties. They have been utilizing the resources on the HeARTs Speak website as well as HeARTs Speak’s Shelter Photography Field Guide that covers shelter animal photography in a way that makes it easy. 

Through our chats about photo exposure and tips on how to get a good photo, I found that they were missing basic maintenance supplies for the cameras. As you can imagine, camera lenses get nose booped often and with the dust in Arizona, it’s important to have the right supplies to keep the lenses nice and clean. Community Canine Project was able to purchase and send the supplies needed, including cleaning supplies, SD cards, and SD card readers so that they have everything they need to keep the cameras in great condition and load all their photos for us volunteers to share.

Having a great photo makes all the difference in helping our shelter dogs to get adopted. Just check out the difference in this intake photo and the photo Sam snapped of Adoptable Rummy (MCACC West) #A4383880

Adoptable Duchess (In Foster) #A4366445

I think I can speak for all of us at CCP when I say that these photos bring us a lot of happiness. We are able to feel connected to the shelter in this disconnected time through photography (and video). I’ve loved getting to know the behavior team better by sharing a skill set that is near and dear to my heart.

Both Sam and Paige are shooting in manual mode and are capturing absolutely stunning photos! 

Here is a little sample of some the photos taken by Sam

All adoptable dogs can be seen on the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control Adoption Web Page.

Monica Adalsteinsson is a member of Community Canine Project and HeARTs Speak. Monica was voted as Best Pet Portrait Photographer by Phoenix Magazine in 2019 and enjoys sharing her skillset with volunteers and staff. She spends her free time photographing adoptable pets at MCACC as well as a hand full of other shelters. Monica has a mixed breed named Sasha who she adopted from MCAC West. Sasha was featured in multiple of Monicas art shows prior to adoption and can currently be found modeling doggie PJs on Amazon.

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