When you hear the term “job with benefits,” your first thought is most likely a 9-5 position at some corporate office that includes health insurance, per diem and maybe even travel. But when your “job” involves volunteering at a local humane society, the benefits are that of experience, friendship and the simple feeling of doing something good for some one else.
After volunteering at the Escondido Humane Society for about three years, it was time to say goodbye (for no other reason than me moving to another state). I always say that things come to me in threes, and this is no exception. The three years I volunteered at the shelter helped grow my business, improve my photography & pet interaction skills, added some awesome people to my list of friends, and provided me with a one-of-a-kind experience.
Some pet photographers might see volunteering as taking up time that could be spent on marketing their business and building their portfolio,, but I am a firm believer that there’s no better way to market your business and build your portfolio than volunteering at a shelter. Not only do you get those two benefits, but you’re actively involved in the pet community, helping the animals that need it most. It’s a win-win! And for anyone who thinks they don’t have the time, it seriously only takes once a month to have a significant impact. I’ve donated 80 hours of my time, photographed over 100 adoptable pets and 8 events, and donated over $600 worth of products & services for the Escondido Humane Society, and the ONLY thing I regret is not taking more pictures of myself while doing it!
The animals I’ve helped get adopted and the friends I’ve made in the process is something that warms the heart. Working for free, I guess, is technically not working, but you know what? …I wouldn’t do it if it seemed like work to me (although, let’s face it, photographing animals doesn’t always seem like work because I LOVE doing it). The point is, I have enjoyed every moment I’ve spent volunteering for the shelter, and would never ask for a dime in return. The funny thing is, here I am so grateful for them giving ME the opportunity to volunteer, grow my business, perfect my skills, ect. And all they do is show constant gratitude for everything I’ve done for them. Last night, three (I told you…everything comes in threes) of the staff members who I’ve work the most with (seen above), treated me to dinner and showered me with gifts to show their appreciation for all I’ve done. Of course, I forced them to take a group photo, but I had to promise not to put it on the blog because they’re all camera shy. But I didn’t promise to not put the picture seen above. Sorry ladies, but you deserve to be recognized!
So, to give some idea of how awesome it’s been to volunteer at their shelter, here is a look back at some of my favorite moments…(I wish I could include ALL of my favorites, but seriously, that would take FOREVER!).