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Switching Focus: From Behind the Wheel to Behind the Lens…

animal transport doobert

Welcome back! I’m here for my next installment from The Volunteer Photographer’s Zone.  I’m JJ— an Artist & Photographer in Virginia, USA who does volunteer work with my art & photography.  I am also a Doobert Driver/Transporter since 2016, and currently studying to become an ARPA Certified Transporter.

I owned my own photo studio in the 90’s. Today I work in ‘Corporate America’, and use my art and photography in many volunteer style capacities.  I come to you today to share my personal thoughts and experiences (unless otherwise noted), in my own words (again, unless otherwise noted).

photograph of black dogToday’s installment is going to launch a kind of multipart adventure story, which I hope you will delight in re-turning to “catch the latest” from time to time… founder Chris Roy has a ginormous stockpile of dreams and visions for one of which is to capture photo stories, if you will, of the relay transports that help save these precious animals.  Well, we are embarking on this adventure to bring this dream to a reality. Join me as we launch this new photography element of!

Being a driver for just about 2 years, I immediately became aware of the different mindset I encountered stepping into the photographer role of two transports this past weekend.  When driving, it’s all about the transport kit (“Doggy Go-Bag” as i call it) which has the water, the toys, the blankets, towels, poopy bags, treats, collars, leashes, slip leads, harnesses, finding out if I need to bring the crate – you get the idea…  Well, this weekend it was all about: Are the camera batteries charged, is the flash card in the camera, do I need multiple lenses, or just the standard, pack lens cloths in case puppy snouts explore my lens while taking pix….

First I reached out to the TC’s (Transport Coordinators) for the two runs.  One was Robyn at RescueTransportUSA, the other was Rusty at Liberty Ride Transport, (Remember this is the “Beta-launch” weekend, so the auto-functionality is yet to be scripted onto Then sent emails to the drivers who were doing the hand-offs in the two locations that I would be visiting. Everyone embraced this idea with enthusiasm!  I must say as a photographer it was so much fun to be able to concentrate just on grabbing photos at a hand-off, over being a driver trying to grab snaps and selfies with my iPhone in one hand and an active doggy in the other! What a joy – AND it clearly showed in the resultant pix!  I used my DSLR camera (a Nikon D3200) But a photographer can still use their smartphone to grab pix if they do not have a DSLR. Don’t let lack of a DSLR dissuade you from building your photo profile on! The key element involved is that the drivers can keep their attention 100% on the precious cargo — the paperwork, the walking, the watering, the camaraderie, and you can be 100% focused (ha — pun intended) on photo ops.

So after my trial run this weekend, I have some great takeaways:

  1. Bring squeaky toys to catch doggy’s attentions.
  2. The groups will be interested not only in group photos and candids, but also good individual portrait style photos of each doggy that they can use for their media adoption pages.
  3. Be mindful to not delay the transports just for pictures.  Since they are expecting you, definitely take a little GENTLE charge in directing the folks to where you need them to be to capture great pix.  I absolutely did not spend all the fussing of a standard portrait session.
  4. Be prepared for post-production!  You will wow the groups with this small additional effort. – AND the photos you post-produce don’t need to be just yours! See the example below. Charlie was 1 of 4 doggies one of the runs, and was quite tired and “squinty” by the time he made it to Staunton VA, so my pix of him were not “amazing”. However, drivers had managed to get a great pic of him which needed editing, but they were thrilled I made it into a usable portrait!
  5. I also made a very simple video story with the photos, which will hopefully make it to any adopters as a memento of “How my furbaby was rescued and brought to me!”  (This can be an exponential idea that I can see growing with content; from collecting backgrounds stories from the rescuing organizations, and more!)

In a nutshell, the photography component of pix @ the hand-offs is a brilliant inspiration and I’m so honored to assist in the launch, testing, and designing of this oh-so-valuable idea of Chris’s!

Till next time…


Doobert Transport

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