I’ve been photographing for New York’s Animal Medical Center lately: an image library for a forthcoming website, and, as part of the project, some images for their new capital campaign. The AMC is modernizing and expanding (New Yorkers love their pets) and the AMC—founded in 1910– needs to keep up with demand.
The project fits me in a sweet spot, or a couple of sweet spots: I like photographing real people at work, and I like hanging out with animals. And all the images were of real people, and real animal patients. There were no makeup artists, no wardrobe stylists, no pet wranglers or groomers. Don’t get me wrong, I’ happy to work with stylists and wranglers, but there’s a freedom and honesty that you can get just working directly. I expect some of my comfort comes from having worked on documentary projects as well as from hanging around animals, ranging from parakeets to cattle, from childhood.
Unlike a lot of Instagrammable puppy and kitty pix, which get attention just because the animals are cute, these photos had to work for the client: they had to establish a connection between the viewers and the AMC. Cuteness helps, but I think the photos work because they show the authentic relationships between the staff and the animals. None of the people are just going through the motions, they’re really involved with the animals. And they, and the animals, show it.