In 2015 I adopted a dog through an organization called LEASH Animal Welfare Society, and he quickly became my very best friend. The thing is, I wasn't in the market for a dog at the time... but after seeing his portrait featured in a major news blog (Daily Hive), I knew he was the dog for me.
I started to wonder...
If a single photograph could have that big of an impact on my life, what if we started taking professional portraits of all abandoned, neglected and abused dogs? Would it help them get adopted?
To kick off this initiative, I crowdsourced some funds from friends and family which allowed me to invest in the proper gear, as well as web hosting and advertising spend. We raised $5210 in total ($1710 over our target) and I got to work the very next day.
The idea caught some traction out of the gate and we gained strong support from organizations like LEASH Animal Welfare Society and Darcy Matheson from CTV News Vancouver. Darcy also writes for the Daily Hive, which lead to a number of our photos being featured in various adoption posts online.
I submitted some of the photos I took to Archive Magazine to help generate some exposure. Acrhive is a locally-based Vancouver publication that prints the highest rated photos that are submitted each month via the Archive app. To date, 6 PixelPaws photos have been featured in Archive Magazine.
Unsplash is a a Community of creatives that share the images they take so others can use them in their personal projects for free. Having used Unsplash as a consumer plenty of times, I decided to give back to that Community as a way to raise awareness for my initiative. So far, the photos I uploaded have garnered over 3 million views and 29,000 downloads.
Dogs Adopted in 2016
Adoption organizations partnered with.
Rosie's Animal Adoption is one of Montreal's most notable rescue organizations. Each year they put out a calendar that is filled with dogs who are photographed by various levels of donation. The calendars are then sold which helps cover the cost of medicine and food for their dogs.
Photography can play a crucial role in the discovery phase of adoption. Humans tend to make life-changing decisions in a matter of seconds. The thing I'm most proud of is the fact that we were able to partner with incredible rescue organizations to help 34 dogs find loving families in our very first year. 🐶 🏡
The first year was a truly remarkable learning experience. Not only did we manage to help 34 dogs get adopted, but we received incredible exposure from news outlets, magazines and the local community.
However, there were certain aspects of this initiative that didn't go as planned. The first was building a website that allowed us to list the dogs we had photographed in a beautiful way as visioned. The platform we went with (Squarespace) seemed great for this cause but we quickly ran into scaling issues when we attempted to list more than a few dogs for adoption.
Then there was the issue of redundancy. There were more than a few ocassions where someone would see a dog listed on our site, only to find out that they had already been adopted when they submit their application.
Keeping our "inventory" updated was very, very difficult and we received feedback that it was actually confusing for potential adopters. I decided to sunset the website recently, with the goal of replacing it with a simple landing page that displays our work and contact information (work in progress can be found here).
All in all, the initiative has been successful and I plan on continuing my work as long as the adoption organizations need my help.
"“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
- Josh Billings