If you’ve ever tried to take a photo of a dog — not an impromptu quick pic for social media but a nice, memorable portrait — then you know it can seem impossible. Even for pros, animal photography can be a lengthy and frustrating experience, particularly if they assume their expertise in other areas is going to be an asset.
“Other photographers whom I respect, they would do head shots of people, architecture, that sort of thing,” says Adam Goldberg. “I saw them trying to take a photo of a dog and it was clear they had no idea how to take a picture of an animal.”
Goldberg knows. He loves animals, and while working at a shelter in Fort Lauderdale for a couple of years during the mid-2010s, he learned “not only how to take pictures, but how to take pictures of animals.
“Prior to that I didn’t know anything about photography,” he says.
A few years back, Goldberg moved to Tampa for a marketing position, but found himself disillusioned with the job; he started volunteering at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. A longtime advocate of pet adoption and rescues, he began taking adoption photos on the side, and held his first pet photo fundraising event in July of 2016. When the staff at the Humane Society caught wind, they asked him to do a special photo event for their Christmas benefit.
“I put a Facebook page together, set up their conference room and we did two days’ worth of photos,” Goldberg says. “It just went so well.”
His photos began to circulate on social media, and before he knew it, fellow pet lovers from as far away as Fort Myers were contacting him about shooting their dogs. He and his partner Mary — they married recently, and of course they both have dogs, his Rigby, hers Bee — wondered if they might not be able to make a trip down south a little more worthwhile, and cooked up an event at a local brewery during which they could do multiple photo shoots and raise money for a local animal nonprofit at the same time.
Now, they make their living taking pet photos, and giving back. On Tuesday, March 19, AGoldPhoto Pet Photography will celebrate raising more than $100,000 for animal charities nationwide over the course of more than 200 events from coast to coast. They were able to turn their passion into full-time gig that not only satisfies them creatively, but generates much-needed revenue for shelters and other organizations. A quick look at their website shows an upcoming trip out to Utah and back, as well as events all over Florida and even some benefits in DC, Maryland and California.
“We’ve [worked with] a lot of dog owners in Tampa and Florida,” Goldberg says. “In order to be able to do this full-time, we kind of have to travel to other markets.”
A typical AGoldPhoto pet photo shoot fundraiser involves pet owners paying a minimum of $110 to have their animal photographed. The cost includes a $50 sitting fee and a minimum $60 photo package, with $35 from each shoot going to a local nonprofit. AGoldPhoto also does private sittings and custom work, too, but Adam and Mary are most fulfilled when they’re creating good shots and making a difference.
“I’m still educating people about animal welfare issues, responsible pet ownership... it’s not ‘I take photos of your pets, give me your money,’” Goldberg says. “The way I started, it was never about money. I started [the website] to educate people about rescuing animals.
“It was never my intention, honestly. It was all by accident.”
A happy accident, judging by the satisfied customers who sing AGoldPhoto’s praises online and the inspiring amount of money raised for animal charities that need it.
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