Itty bitty…

Come into my web...

Come into my web…

Itty bitty?

Itty bitty?

On those rare days when I don’t have camera gear on my person, I’ve learned to sigh and smile when I encounter a lovely scene.” This wasn’t one of those days: as an improviser friend and I walked along to a session, she encountered this little one enticing creatures into its web.

A warm, sunny/cloudy Vancouver day, the green of life and vibrancy of flowers, and the predator’s presence.

Beautiful.

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Shelter animals

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the dogs.

And cats.

I drove to a local SPCA shelter, camera in hand – well, on the floor beside me – to assist in creating adoption materials for the furry friends in the facility.

Today, there were nine dogs, ten or so adult cats, and a smattering of kittens. Discussing the schedule with the facility manager, we decided to start with the dogs, taking them singly out on a grassy area behind the building with a handler, where I’d greet each, play a bit and then shoot the pictures. Hopefully, the kind of pictures that move someone to adopt.

If there were time remaining I’d visit with the cats and picture them as well.

Oh, I could fall in love, many times over. Well, nine today. The first time I visited a shelter, it was to shoot young puppies for adoption. Today I pictured a variety of breeds and ages from nearly a year to nine or so, and mini to rather large indeed. Today’s visit, far more so than with the puppies, reaffirmed my belief in the work of the BC SPCA.

I met the little ones first. (I think the staff might’ve been determining how I’d work with the dogs.) Both of them were lovely little guys, friendly and inquisitive, but also a bit distracted by “I’m outside! It’s not walk time! Whee!” responses to being out on the grass. Both of them danced a bit with the handler, and I snapped away, giving each my attention as the camera caught theirs.

One was a stray brought in to the shelter, the other was surrendered as the owners no longer had the time for a dog. That’s a common story; given the vagaries of life, it’s one I can understand, if not always appreciate. Stuff happens, and bringing your pet to the SPCA is a much preferable choice to leaving them somewhere for someone else to find. If someone does indeed find them.

That’s what happened with the next guy I met: he was tied up at a dump site with a note that he was free. He was found and brought to the shelter. He’s more than friendly: he’s exuberant in meeting new people and wanted to explore everywhere he could reach on his lead. Energetic, he’ll need a high energy person to keep up with him (or a big yard and toys!) He’s one that I’d love to have in my life, but I only have that level of energy when I’m both very well rested and very highly caffeinated.

Of the six other dogs, each stands out in their own way. I was covered in kisses from a couple, and hairs from a couple more: I received head butts and more than one dog stood against my hip as I petted, getting more touch.

I came home with rather disturbing imaginings of how some of them must’ve been trained by their previous owners, and yet inspired by how resilient they all are, most notably the one that cowered from my stranger’s touch. As we were finishing up and the handler walked the last back into the building by another entrance, I went in by the side door I’d been using, passing by the kennels. Now back inside for over thirty minutes, she approached her kennel door quietly. When I rested my hand against the door, she gently nosed against it, sniffed, then licked at my hand. Incredible resilience. She’ll make a wonderful, loving addition to a home.

I’d time remaining, so I visited with the adult cats next, and I’ve just two notes: I’ve never met a friendlier, warmer bunch of cats in my life, and I’ve more to learn when it comes to picturing them well.  Still, the purrs were cool: one on my left hand, one at each of my legs. I have a few lovely photos of them that I’ll send to the manager when I’m finished processing.

If you are considering a pet, please visit your local SPCA, humane society, or rescue society to meet the incredible furry friends that can be found there. If life won’t accommodate a pet, consider donating time, funds or supplies as you can. With winter fast-approaching, any extra old blankets you’ve around, or any new ones you’d care to part with (that lime green one from your mother-in-law?) would be welcome. Toys, dishes, leashes and collars, travel kennels, and many other supplies are often needed: ask your local organization what they might need.

In searching for a quote to close with, Ghandi feels appropriate tonight: “the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” While I suspect many may feel he was referring solely to people, I believe that our animal friends are members of society and our treatment of them part of the measure.

The SPCA and organizations like it are also part of that measure, and I’m grateful they’re here.

(To see a selection of pets available for adoption in British Columbia, click here. For other jurisdictions, please Google your local no-kill shelter. )

Event Full

Spending much of my summer months dedicated to volunteering and event photography has been wonderful. In addition to the Summer Movie Series and Make Music Festival, I’ve been a regular attendee and photographer for Instant Theatre events, and the Vancouver International Improv Festival. I’ve also been one of several photographers for the BC SPCA’s Paws for a cause and the 6th Annual AIDS Vancouver Celebrity Dim Sum.

I’ve been volunteering with one organization more regularly, assisting in the data entry and maintenance of their Raiser’s Edge Donor relationship database. It’s the kind of data analysis I still enjoy – how to get the most effective information in to, and back out of, a database with both flexibility and data controls in place – and an accomplishment I’ll relish. I’m planning to continue event photography for Instant, the BC SPCA, and AIDS Vancouver as much as I can.

My own photography has slowed during this busy stretch, with my photo trips becoming nearer to the next event or activity on my schedule. Even a few minutes examining a wire fence can prove a respite from running. The cameras are nearly always with me, to catch those moments, and help balance my hour-long commute. My second group show is winding up, and I’m in the planning for my solo show late this year. It’s been – again – fun.

Recent event photos can be seen on Flickr, though I’ll be sharing some here as well in the next few days.  Time to catch up a bit.

Chevron Summer Movie Series

One of the most wonderful aspects of this past summer has been the opportunity to volunteer at a number of public events: Make Music Vancouver Festival, BC SPCA’s Paws for a Cause, and the Chevron Summer Movie Series. The movie series benefits a number of organizations over the weeks it runs, including the Firefighter’s and Police foundations: I volunteered at these events for the Police Foundation, collecting donations, helping with games, site teardown and clean up, and of course, some photography.

I’ve selected just a few photos of the event August 20, where the movie playing was “Austin Powers”. I’d never seen it before. More of the event on Flickr.

Moving

I moved recently.

It wasn’t a particularly ‘big’ move: it wasn’t across the country and I don’t have a ton of things. I haven’t lost contact with friends or family as a result. I didn’t lose or break much of anything during the process.

None of that matters.

Moving isn’t fun for me. Instead, it’s a long, drawn-out process of nail pulling to get each item in my life reviewed, properly labelled and sequestered for the move, then packed into boxes and carted away. The process always reminds me of two of my life’s truisms: you can indeed have too much “stuff”, and no matter how much I give away, freecycle, or recycle, I ever feel like I could pare “stuff” down further.

Two years and several months ago, I moved from a two bedroom apartment to a studio in the same building. Several friends helped me moved the two floors down in my building to my new studio, and the pile in the space was a mite intimidating. So very much “stuff”, so very little space.

I downsized, ridding myself of many things I wasn’t using consistently, paring away from the space with a finality and discipline that I still maintain and that I regret only very rarely. Of course, I’ve kept many valuable things full of memories: blankets that were made for me, clothing ditto, framed photos, a few very display items. After two years of downsizing through varied means, the space still felt full, but not as cramped as that first day. Removing from your life the items you don’t use or truly cherish can be a very good thing.

This new space is large and lovely. It’s uncrowded. Unrushed. Open, friendly and inviting, despite half-unpacked boxes of books and belongings in two of the rooms.

I’ve no plans to fill the space with furnishings, or shelves. It will remain open, friendly, and inviting. Packing over the last few weeks, a great many things were packed off to friends, family or freecycled, included shelving units and other furnishings, clothing, kitchenware, and books. I plan to put artworks and photography on the walls – this space has four large walls that currently have nothing on them. No shelves, no switches or lights, no cabinets against.

I’m looking forward to filling them with just the right pieces.

Life continues as you’re preoccupied with preparing, packing, and piling belongings into a moving van: there are appointments to keep, and friends to meet with, and errands to run. As you pack it all up, you attend plays, walk on the beach, and make time for the things that feed you. I’ve taken a number of afternoons these last weeks and simply gone out with my camera. Searching for scenes that calm and revitalize my energies, building for the next day, the next effort. The processing, preparing and printing comes later: the feeding is first, and foremost. Some of those images will be posted in the coming days, now that most is unpacked and ready to roll.

That time taken helps to ensure I’ve the energy to keep up with what’s needed and that I’m able to keep track of the varied and many aspects of modern life. It’s part of the balance.

Moving too, is part of the balance sometimes. Big or small. Across town or cross-country doesn’t matter, it can be the right move at the right time.