|Tom Myers - Bundle Of Paws Photography|
I live in Robbinsville, NJ. I had heard of the Paws for Charity Project through other members of HeARTs Speak, and thought it a unique way that I could help animals who would otherwise be out of my reach. I have found volunteering for my local rescue so rewarding and felt that if I could help other animals in need, even who I’d not personally met, why not? Plus it is a great opportunity to participate with other like minded artists who spend their time ‘on the ground’ to help where they can.
Tell us about one of your favorite photo shoots.
I think my favorite session occurred in the middle of this past winter when I was commissioned to shoot a senior West Highland White Terrier named Chibi. Chibi, which means “Little One” in Japanese, had been surrendered at a shelter, had cataracts and was blind and his future looked grim. Miraculously he was adopted by a wonderful man who was also very social media savvy who used a crowd source funding site to raise money to pay for Chibi’s double cataract surgery. We did our shoot right after a heavy snowfall, with pristine snowpack and a real wooden sled and a true winter theme and Chibi was a trooper. Those images were used on his website to stimulate interest for people to participate and donate to the surgery. This was special to me not only to have the opportunity to improve the life of a great dog with his new family, but also because my wife’s child-hood dog who really instilled in her the love of animals was also a Westie…..named Chibi, so I thought this was really one of those ‘meant to be’ interactions in life.
Do you have a certain "style" in mind when you create your images?
I try very hard to show the emotion in the pet so the viewer can almost feel what the pet was feeling when the image was made. Sometimes I will do this with an environmental shot, where you see the pet running, with the family, and can appreciate them in full in their environment. But my favorite shots are the close up, literally in your face shots giving a look right into the soul of the animal through their eyes. I love that tight work, often which I make with a simple 50mm 1.4 lens, so I am right in there. I try and convey the beauty of the eyes vibrantly and clearly, and just love that look and seeing literally every strand of fur around the face and eyes. It’s important to develop trust with the pet, and for them to know they are safe and that neither I, nor the camera pose any threat to them. Sometimes on my business facebook page I’ll go even more macro and use that aspect ratio for the cover photo to put up images of just the eyes. I think that format actually works well to convey the emotion that was occurring, even though you can’t see the rest of the animal in that type shot.
Would you tell us about a future project you have in mind?
I’ve been thinking for a future project to create a book featuring urban area wildlife. I don’t often think folks who live in and around cities grinding through the daily hustle and bustle have the opportunity to observe the wildlife around them. I love animals – domesticated and wild, and have been compiling shots of animals in the wild as I have had the opportunity to travel around the US. I am struck by how animals adapt to human encroachment, and what impact we are having on their lives. Last year I was on an airboat in a swamp in Florida shooting wild gators, and we’d let the boat drift up to shore as I lied on the deck of the boat working for that eye to eye image of a gator – and in the background I could see power lines running through the swamp running to Cape Canaveral where they launch the shuttles. Just reminded me, sometimes no matter how remote you feel, the our reach really does extend nearly everywhere in the world. Similarly at home in NJ, I am fortunate to have several pairs of breeding bald eagles who make their nests in and around my area, and am amazed how they thrive in an area so densely populated by humans.
Do you have a "life's embarrassing moment" you can tell us about one of your assignments?
I will admit – as a life’s embarrassing moment, on two occasions, when working with a shelter dog and we’re struggling to make good images together, be it she’s stressed , anxious, or all of the above, and even my best attempts to connect and relax haven’t given us the images I think we can get. I have waited until ‘nature calls’ and made some tightly cropped headshots while they’re doing their business, so to speak. Pretty sad I know. But, I’ve gotten great eye contact and with the right cropping and work in post – it’s always been a little secret between the dog and I….until now.
Thanks Tom....I'm so glad you participated in the 2014 Paws For Charity Project!
Click on this link to preview this year's book: http://www.blurb.com/books/5210564-2014-paws-for-charity
For a 25% discount on your purchase, input coupon code P4C2014 (valid until June 30, 2014) All proceeds from the sale of these books are donated to Sheltering Helpless Animals in Distress (SHAID.ca), an animal shelter in Nova Scotia.