Saturday, April 20, 2013

Do the Photos Help?

This is a question many of the foster parents ask as the photographers and I are crawling around their floors trying to get a good shot.  It's a hard question to answer.  I think we all know on some level that good photos on an online profile can help to attract attention which can lead to more/faster adoptions - but it's a difficult thing to prove.

There is one very tangible example now, however.

One of the first photo shoots I did with my friend, Ben Johnson, was for HomeFinders Animal Rescue.  There was one cat, Azlan - a beautiful one-eyed boy who had been found living behind a bar on Main St. He had lost his eye and had his fur shaved but was still very dignified.  Ben took beautiful photos of him.  We all fell in love.  When we sent the first batch of photos to Hilly at HomeFinders, she replied that the photos of Azlan made her tear up because she had been trying to show people what a wonderful, beautiful cat he was but her dimly-lit basement photos just didn't convey it.... and Ben's did, in spades.

To know we could make a rescuer happy like that was a win in my books.  Azlan is a senior cat, with health issues, so, not an easy guy to find a home for - but he did get adopted! We found out later that his adopter saw this photo of him and fell in love. So photos do matter!

Azlan is now in a great home and is loved to bits, just as he should be.  And, his adopter just used Ben's photo as inspiration for a tattoo. That's a pretty powerful, lasting image.

For the most part we have to go on our hunch that beautiful photos help animals find homes, but every now and then it's good to hear very definitively that it's true!

Here's a blurb from Azlan's new person:

Pictures are powerful, be they for a piece of furniture, a place to live or a fuzzy companion.

When I was dreaming of adopting a cat after 17 years, as I was buying a place where I could finally have one, I looked over many pets on and found Azlan. The photo with his paw outstretched towards the camera as if to say "love me" I kept coming back to again and again. I didn't care that he was a senior cat or missing an eye. I was actually looking for an adult or senior to adopt. His thyroid issue was a concern but once I asked about taking him in as a foster and met him for the first time it was instant love for both of us..

Since then, I've adopted this snuggly boy and cured his thyroid condition, but I was hit with the news of his third stage kidney failure. This was found after the 2nd round of post thyroid procedure blood tests. 

I had already a tattoo scheduled but I decided to make a change to one of Azlan.

Once again, I kept thinking about the picture that first drew me to him. Luckily I have a friend who knows an extremely talented artist, Carlos Vanst, and he was able to transform the photo into a very detailed tribute. Azlan is still with me but hard to say for how long. When it comes time to let him go, all I will have to do reach down and put my hand on the paw that will often poke at me to feed or pet 

him, and remember the best kitty I've ever had.

My thanks to Ben Johnson for capturing the moment in the photo.