Photographer helps local shelters save animals with their cameras

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, May 3, 2017

FERRIDAY — Nanette Martin doesn’t just take pictures for a living. She save lives. She teaches people how to save lives, too.

Co-founder of Shelter Me Photography, Martin educates animal rescuers and shelter workers about how taking beautiful photos can change how people see their potential pets.

Email newsletter signup

The former photographer for Life and People magazines, who has photographed at Ground Zero in New York City and in Louisiana  during Hurricane Katrina, recently brought her wealth of photography expertise to three local animal shelters.

Martin’s work with animals began when she documented the lives of animal rescuers during Hurricane Katrina. The long-term project changed her life.

“I woke up one day and realized I was part of that community and that it meant more to me than just getting published anymore,” Martin said. “I just started photographing shelter pets, pets on transport and any homeless pets that needed a home.”

On Saturday, Martin offered her hands-on workshop that teaches shelter workers the skills necessary to capture quality photos of dogs and cats at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Ferriday. Members of the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society, Concordia PAWS and the Pineville, La., animal shelter attended the event.

Martin said she teaches shelter workers to stop taking picture of pets behind bars, with bad lighting and with scary looks on their faces.

Instead, she shows how to set up a simple backdrop and studio and use simple techniques to create photos that make a connection.

“When you look at the photos of the pets, they can steal you heart real quick,” Concordia PAWS member Donna Jones said.

Jones took the workshop and said she and others from Concordia PAWS are excited about what they learned.

“The biggest thing we learned is how to make that connection — change the outlook of how people view our dogs,” Jones said.

Martin said the most important thing to photograph are the eyes.

“Nobody ever said, ‘I just loved the tail on that dog,’”she said.

Ferriday was just the latest stop on Martin’s cross-country tour of animal shelters.

When the tour is finished, Martin said she would have traveled to more than 15 states, from California to Alabama. In Louisiana, she has already visited Lake Charles, Lafayette, Shreveport, Bossier City and Monroe.

Partly sponsored by Purina, Martin asks workshop participants to donate money to her cause.

“We ask them to pay $25 or whatever they can afford, but we don’t ever turn anyone away for financial reasons,” Martin said. “We do not put a price on an education that saves lives, without a doubt.”

Tuesday afternoon Jones said the Monroe shelter from where Martin just came experienced first-hand the importance of using good photos.

“Almost all of the dogs photographed have been adopted,” Jones said. “We are real hopeful that this will make a difference for us, too.”