Monday, September 29, 2014

The Rachael Ray™ Nutrish™ #ShelterCatsAreBeautiful Tour Came To Michigan And I Was There! Part One

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Rachael Ray Nutrish.   As always, thank you for reading and supporting our sponsors.

Back on July 29th I blogged about the Shelter Cats Are Beautiful tour that  kicked off with an event in New York City on July 11.

Sixteen cities. One goal 

To capture the TRUE BEAUTY of shelter cats


Millions of cats enter shelters every year, where they're often quickly put into cages. They're scared, confused and sometimes even dirty. A photo is snapped and then quickly shared, to be seen by people looking to adopt. Unfortunately, these photos don't always capture the full beauty and personality of the cats. That's why Rachael Ray™ Nutrish™ is proud to partner with GreaterGood.org® and One Picture Saves a Life™. Together, they traveled across the country taking photos worthy of these loving cats who are simply looking for a second chance.




Rachael Ray Nutrish  took the “Shelter Cats areBeautiful” tour to 16 cities
across the country and offered professional grooming and photography services to
capture the full beauty and personality of cats in need of adoption. The
program  provided shelters with the necessary tips, tools and equipment
to groom and capture the best possible photographs of shelter pets in the future.
This program helped celebrate the launch of Rachael Ray Nutrish‘s new line of
natural food for cats, which is now available in stores nationwide. Rachael is
dedicated to helping animals in need and donates her proceeds from the sale
of Rachael Ray Nutrish to help animal support organizations, which has resulted
in more than $6.5 million in donations to date.

  Friends For The Dearborn Animal Shelter, in Dearborn, Michigan was one of the last stops on the tour. I have been working with them for the past few years helping to promote their adoption events, and when I heard that the Shelter Cats Are Beautiful Tour was going to be stopping there on September 13th, it was a no-brainer that I would attend! I brought my husband with me and he enjoyed it as much as I did.

This was a poster in the room where the session was held
The session was conducted by Miranda Hay who was warm and caring with the cats, knowledgeable, professional and fabulous! I recently contacted Miranda asking her to tell you in HER words how photographing shelter pets became a passion,  and she graciously obliged (at the last minute no less! Thank you Miranda!). The story behind how Miranda began photographing shelter animals is amazing, and I wanted to share that with you.

Miranda Hay and soon-to-be groomed
shelter resident, "Linc"
at Friends For The Dearborn Animal Shelter
Shelter Cats Are Beautiful tour

From Miranda Hay:

Full time I am a flight nurse and I am passionate about helping people when they are sick or injured, but I also have a  strong passion and desire to help animals.

 I started in animal welfare in 2008 when my small rural community in southwestern Indiana began to form their  first Humane Society. I started out as  the Fundraising Coordinator, and after the shelter opened in 2009 I found myself taking on more roles. I became the Volunteer Coordinator, PR/Marketing and Social media Coordinator, board Member, event and community outreach coordinator and became the board President in 2011.

Our shelter was fortunate to become a part of the PetSmart Charities Rescue Waggin' in 2010 which allowed is to send 40% of our dog/puppies population to partner shelters in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Through this program we were able to never  euthanize for space or time again. The training and education I received from PetSmart Charities, networking, reading and educating myself about the world of animal sheltering always left me hungry for more. I wanted to  improve our organization, and be the best small shelter we could be. We grew our adoption program and participated in four PetSmart National Adoption events per year with 3 other local shelters, and averaged 125-175 adoptions in a weekend.

Photo Courtesy of Miranda Hay


 Our success grew and grew and it was because of one reason...Marketing. I will say it until I am blue in the face. We are actually "selling" something and what we are selling actually means life or death.

Why do most small shelters lack knowledge in reference to marketing? 
There are several reasons:
lack of funds, experience, training and many more. I embarked on the path of  teaching myself how to market our animals in the best way possible. First, by providing excellent customer service, second, creating a  logo and brand, and third by utilizing social media to the best of my ability.


Photo Courtesy of Miranda Hay


Miranda's most recent photo
of a shelter dog
from a shoot this past weekend


As I grew our Facebook page, I wanted more. I wanted amazing, professional pictures of our adoptable animals that would catch people's attention on social Media and website searches.

  I bought a DSL camera and I researched pet photography and I bought every book on the market. I took a photography class at a local shop,  and a second one at a local college. While  I learned a lot about my camera and how to take pictures of people and objects, no one could tell me how to take pictures of dogs and cats, especially how to photograph them in  a dark shelter, and quickly, so I could photograph 20-30 animals a day.  I was frustrated..

Photo Courtesy of Miranda Hay
On the right is Seth Casteel, photographer On the left is the groomer Jorge Benderski from One Picture Saves A Life


 I attended the HSUS Expo in Nashville in May of 2013 and there I met Seth Casteel and the One Picture Saves a Life team. I knew of his work with Underwater Dogs and his work with shelter pets from my research in pet photography. He was gracious enough to look at some of my pictures and in 5 minutes he gave me all the tips and pointers I had been looking for!

 I went back to the hotel, watched his online tutorial videos and signed up for the workshop in August in Chicago. On my way home I stopped and bought a 50 mm lens and the rest is history! 

I am absolutely in love  with shelter photography  and I love to see how much my pictures make an impact on pets getting adopted, (and very quickly) all because we are marketing them in a positive way!! I was honored to be asked by the GreaterGood.org, Rachel Ray Nutrish and One Picture Saves a Life to join the tour and teach others to take amazing pictures.

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Before the Shelter pets can be photographed, they must be groomed. A pet that looks it's best BEFORE being photographed, will look that much better once they are photographed!

PART TWO of The Rachael Ray™ Nutrish™ #ShelterCatsAreBeautiful Tour at  Friends For The Dearborn Animal Shelter, with  grooming and photography tips that were provided by Miranda Hay,  will appear this Wednesday, October 1st! You won't want to miss it!











47 comments:

  1. OMC Dat be a gweat posty. Me can't hawdly wait fur Wednesday.

    Luv ya'

    Dezi and Lexi

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    1. Thanks so much!! There was just too much info for one post!! xoxo Love you too!

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  2. Us too looking forward to Wednesday. Have a marvellous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

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    1. thanks so much! You have a marvelous Monday too!

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  3. what a great post… I also can't wait until Wednesday!

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    1. Thank you!! I spared ya an even LONGER post! lol

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  4. Wow, she does really pawsome shelter photography !
    Impressive !!!

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    1. Yep! She also said she wants people to know that you don't have to be a professional to take great photos of the fur babies!

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  5. What a great post. Beautiful photography. Guess what? We got a cat!!! Yes, from a shelter - he is adorable and a complete love bug. I got him Nutrish b/c of all of your posts - you need to know that. He LOVES it. He actually prefers it to treats. So thanks for all of the posts. Felicia hopes to post pics of our sweet Lego (he's missing a leg, so the name is a riot), on Wednesdays for Wordless Wednesdays. We shall see how long it takes me to get that organized. Thanks for all you do, Cathy. OOooo, and we actually feel like we can participate in BlogPaws stuff now that we have a REAL cat. Ha!

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    1. Thank you!!! OHHHHH THAT IS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO EXCITING!!! I am SOOOOOOOOO HAPPY to hear that he is eating Nutrish too!!!!! Awww you should send me a video of him eating it (or a link) and I will post it FOR SURE!!!! Actually, that is part of this Wednesday's post that is coming up. Kittens eating Nutrish!! Oh how sweet are you adopting a tri-leg baby! You are so silly!!!!! Pssst...you accidentally called me "Cathy" but it's ok...it begins with a "C" and I answer to anything (wink)

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    2. Thank you for not being mad with me calling you by the wrong name. Geeze... too excited and no coffee yet - that is what I get, Caren & Cody! :) Pictures are hard to come by so far but he is settling in and we hope to get more. If I get a video, I will let you know!!! :)

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    3. You silly! I shouldn't have even mentioned it, I only did because I knew you would know that I wasn't upset! It's that darned "C" that throws everyone off! I am sooo used to it! Most people call me "Carmen" lol. Oh! Forgot to say that you are ALWAYS welcome to share your photos, etc on our Fan Page on Facebook! If you do, always use your page to post so that I may promote you!!! xoxoxo You will eventually get photos, I know you will! You are truly an Angel! Kisses to Felicia!!

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    4. Well, you are welcome to call me Carl. :)

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  6. What a pawsome event! We're big fans of the Dearborn Animal Shelter. The mom doesn't volunteer there but has a number of friends that do.

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    1. I wish they were closer to me. From Farmington Hills they are kind of far. The event was pawesome for sure!

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  7. how wonderful....it makes a HUGE difference to have great pictures online to draw people into the shelter space.

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    1. It absolutely does. Miranda wants shelters to move away from the heart wrenching photos that many shelters are obsessed with. Those are actually deterrents. People need to be able to picture the animals becoming a part of their family and fun, inviting photos make that much more likely to happen!

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  8. Great event and pawsome that both you and your husband went and enjoyed it! Love the great photographs..key to getting the cuteness out there! That little beagle is positively smiling! :)

    the critters in the cottage xo

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    1. My photos will be on Wednesday's post...trust me, they are NOWHERE as good as these! About the Beagle, I know, right??!! I LOVE that smile!! xoxo

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  9. What a super program to help get pets adopted!!!

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  10. wow! This is so great!!!!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

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  11. Thanks be to that kind lady and her huge talent, so graciously used to benefit furry ones in need!

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  12. Love this campaign and would like to add when grooming is not an option, photo editing helps. It's what I do with my shelter photography :-)

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  13. Very fascinating interview and we are looking forward to more.

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    1. Thanks so much!! The last part will be Wednesday!

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  14. What a neat event. How cool that you were able to go. I love how Miranda works so hard and genuinely cares about capturing beautiful photos of the animals in need. It makes such a difference!

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    1. It was and I am lucky that I live about 30 or so minutes away. Miranda is a true gem!

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  15. Oh I know you had a fun time and I know they do wonderful things. It's always better when the Caren shows up though!

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    1. you just gave me a big 'ol smile!!!!!! Thank you! There are many who think it is better when "the Caren" leaves :)

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  16. Awesome! How neat that that you got to go to this, Caren! We can hardly wait to read your Wednesday post. :)

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    1. You are too kind and I deeply thank you!!! Yes, that is about the ONLY benefit of living in the Detroit area lol!!!!

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  17. A good picture makes all the difference. I got involved in cat photography at Chris's shelter in 2009 and 2010. Nobody was doing it then and I felt it would make a big difference. Now they have a great presence on Facebook and I am certain it helps.

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    1. Yep it does! I bet their great presence has much to do with what you started! You should be so proud!

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  18. What a great interview! The Shelter Cats are Beautiful program was here about a month ago, but the head peep doesn't volunteer with the organization who hosted them. It's so important to replace the frightened, sad intake photos with photos of happy animals that help "sell" them to potential adopters.

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    1. Thanks so much!! Too bad you didn't go!! It was well worth it!

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  19. I WAS a shelter cat and I’m beautiful so I can second you on that one. Great innerview. BTW I really like the Rachel Ray kible but not the stinky goodness.

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  20. How great that you were able to go, Caren! What beautiful photos Miranda takes, it's hard to believe she's not a professional! I think it must be her passion that shines through.

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    1. thanks so much Jan. The ONLY benefit of living in Michigan lol. I think you are right, her "passion shines through" Beautifully stated!

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