This is my favorite time of year. The air has a bit more bite, the days are shorter, and the quality of light has a unique glow that makes it a very special time to be a photographer. And if you look past the commercial mayhem, it’s also a time traditionally steeped in gratitude and giving, with everyone trying be reflective, generous, and kind, for the most part.
Gratitude is something I think about a lot these days. In 2015, I reached two significant milestones: I officially started my 10th year as a pet photographer, and I had my very first book published. The job is something I adore and feel blessed and grateful to have fallen into most every single day. The book, called Thanks For Picking Up My Poop, Everyday Gratitude from Dogs, is fittingly all about gratitude, too — it even has it in the title … along with the word “poop.”
From the get-go, my pet photography career was inspired by gratitude and a desire to give back. It started almost as therapy for me when I was working full-time at something else and doing a lot of volunteer work at San Francisco Animal Care and Control with the long-term custody dogs. I began bringing my camera along and soon realized I was getting a lot more out of spending time with and photographing those dogs than I was sitting in front of a computer in an office all day. Even now, it’s really important for me to give time back to rescue animals since they got me started on this path.
With my book, I wanted to do something to thank all the dogs I’ve met in the past 10 years. In the last decade, I’ve been with a lot of them — literally thousands — and taken even more photos. As a photographer, a critical part of the job is making a connection with your subjects and getting them to be themselves in front of you. That process is especially key with animals, and it also makes the job incredibly rewarding.
Being around animals has always been a tremendous source of comfort to me. I love their company and interacting with them. They live very much in the moment, and their emotions and motives are pure and uncluttered, unlike ours. I think spending time with them lets us experience moments the way they do, and that’s what makes our relationships with them so special. That purity and simplicity rub off a bit when we’re with them.
In my book, dogs are given a voice and a chance to express their own gratitude through bits of wisdom (as a dog might phrase them), which accompany some of my photos. Sometimes sweet. Sometimes funny. Always touching. All the things that make us love them so much.
I’m lucky that I get to experience this every day with the animals I photograph, along with the people they’re with. I’m a firm believer that I’m a better person with pets in my life, and I hope that by sharing my world from these past 10 years, I can also share some of the joy and happiness animals bring me.
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About the author: Mark Rogers is a San Francisco photographer specializing in eye-catching images of pets and their people that he shoots for both advertising and private, commissioned clients. He donates his time and photography to many animal rescue and welfare groups. To see more of his work, visit his website at MarkRogersPhotography.com or follow him on social media at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.