Today we have a very special treat!
Recently, while searching for stories and articles to share on my Facebook page, I came across one article that stood out above the others and included some of the most adorable pictures I had ever seen. Immediately, I wanted to know more about the photographer, Sabrina Paige. So I did some investigating, tracked her down and emailed her to let her know how much I admired her work.
I hope that does not sound too stalker-ish – I just really loved the pictures. What I also really appreciated about Sabrina was that she was formerly a shelter photographer, using her talents to help shelter dogs look their best when seen by potential adopters.
All photos (c) Sabrina Paige
Hope you enjoy the interview and be sure to read all the way to the end where I will reveal a big surprise!!!!!
1. How did you discover your talent for photography?
I started by photographing adoptable dogs at Animal Care & Control in NYC because I saw there was a huge need for decent pictures. I found this was something I really enjoyed and could do very well, or so I've been told!
2. How long have you been a photographer?
I'm a life-long 'artsy' person but didn't really get into photography until about three years ago.
All three of my pets originated from Animal Care & Control of NYC and I adopted them after failing as their foster parent for various rescues. I just lost my first dog Skyler to lymphoma in October, and now just have Blue (dog) and Willie Nelson (cat).
4. How do you get them to pose for pictures?
Well I got really lucky by adopting pets who get along so well and pose naturally in adorable snuggling positions! My cat deserves most of the credit for this, he is exceptionally dog friendly and is the initiator of the majority of snuggle sessions. (So it's pretty easy to get good pictures while they're all sleeping.) For other pictures of Blue where he needs to be awake and posing somehow I make sure to 'pay' him with a lot of high-value treats, and also make sure he's enjoying himself and happy, because that really comes through in the picture.
When I began volunteering as a dog walker I saw that there was really just one staff member who photographed dogs, and because of the large volume of dogs who enter the shelter many went without good pictures which significantly decreased their chances at finding a home. I photographed dogs at the shelter for about two and a half years.
6. Tell us about your Instagram account
People can follow me (@thebluebies) on Instagram which chronicles my personal pets' daily adventures in snuggling and other activities.
Instagram has a great sense of community and there are thousands of amazing accounts, pet-centric and otherwise. If you're into photography, you will probably love it! There are far less political arguments and general negativity than on Facebook too, it's very appealing as an artistic escape where you can 'meet' interesting people and be inspired photographically.
8. Do you have any specific ideas or goals for the future - both personally and professionally?
Yes, about a million! Photography-wise I'm interested in pursuing more professional opportunities and increasing my technical knowledge. I'm also looking forward to doing a lot of cool charity-related projects on my Instagram account and achieving new and exciting levels of cute snuggling.
Many times I would have a volunteer with me who would help the dog feel more at ease, this was really a win-win because it was easier for me and beneficial for the dog to have a human with them in the picture. If you're on your own it can be a bit more difficult but I always brought roast beef which was a real crowd-pleaser and helped persuade a lot of dogs that looking directly at the big scary camera was worth it. Most dogs are really great at 'selling' themselves and will give you fabulous smiles and look very happy. For the ones that don't, you just have to work with what you've got! Also I would strongly recommend taking as many pictures as possible using a 'burst' mode if you are able to. I probably delete 95% of the pictures I take.
During the course of our communications, Sabrina very matter-of-factly mentioned: “Oh I totally know your dog too - he's from the Brooklyn shelter a long time ago? Came in with another dog?” Remember – I adopted Mickey in February, 2011, almost 4 years ago.
And then: “Yes! This is me with terrible highlights trying to get him to look happy for the camera! He was really scared!”
Sabrina and I had a connection and I did not even know it!
I feel as though everyone is gifted with one unique freakish/genius quality in life, like my good friend in high school always could guess what the total would be for a full cart of groceries within one dollar before anything was even scanned, another friend always instinctively knows what time it is without looking at a watch, another friend always knows which cardinal direction she is facing, and mine is that I have an extreme elephant memory for all the dogs I met at the shelter! (I wish it could be card counting or extreme couponing, but it is what it is!) There were multiple times I would see a dog I remembered from the shelter who had been adopted walking down the street in NYC and run after the owner like a crazy person telling them 'I know your dog!' I'm also totally terrible at remembering or recognizing human faces to the point I've offended many acquaintances by walking right by them without blinking an eye, which makes it even more strange.
Is Sabrina amazing or what?
Follow her on Instagram to see more of her wonderful work @theblubies.
Thank you Sabrina for bringing smiles to our faces through your photography, for volunteering your time to help shelter animals and for all you do to portray pit bulls in a positive light! You rock!!