July photoshoot

This July we celebrated our Country the United States of America, our Freedom and the Rescue our adorable furry foster kitten friends.  We also helped save the earth and used recycled July 4th decorations in our photo shoots.  We used this awesome red, white, and blue table runner (that was originally purchased for our kitchen table) from our favorite store Target. It is a mock-up of the US flag. We draped it over our home made L shaped foam core photo table, and began luring the kittens over for some playtime! Here is our favorite funniest image from the shoot. In this photo little Almond kitten was balancing on her back legs, and reaching up for the feather teaser. As she was doing so, we made a noise, that she paused to look at with her paws down – and at that very moment we will able to snap the shutter and get this amazing shot. She is so funny and cute! She forgot she had the bow tie on because she was so focused on playtime.

 

 

Making Kitten Flowers Bloom …

Kitten Flowers – Kittens in Full Bloom was one of the most fun photo shoots that we have done. We got very crafty making kitten flowers blooms and designed the head pieces ourselves with craft store supplies: artificial flowers, syrofoam discs, scissors, exacto knife, and craft glue. We took photos as we created to give you an idea of how it was made.  We were inspired by Mother’s Day and Summertime Sunflowers for these photo shoots. We wanted to create something special that all moms would love for products. We tried two different types of flowers: a sunflower and pink hydrangea bush flower.
The first was the large sunflower. It is sold at craft store in this huge size! The headpiece is pretty much pre-assembled, you just need to cut the center out to fit over the kitten’s head. It was fairly easy to do.
First we took the sunflower heads off of the stems. Then we went to work peeling off a few layers off the back to make it thinned. Then we cut through the top, pointing our exacto at an angle, much like the angle you use when cutting a matte for a frame.  _MG_7787We used a drinking glass as our guide to make a circle. We cut through the back layers like a star and and glued the layers into the inside to cover up the foam that was showing through.

 

 

Cute tabby kitten hiding in the middle of a pink flower bush inside of a terra cotta garden pot, photographed on an isolated white background.

The second floral headpiece was not pre-assembled like the sunflower, so it took a little more time to make. We used an artificial pink hydrangea bush stem that we purchased at a craft store. To build the base we used a green styro foam disc. We used a glass cup to trace a circle on the foam disc and cut out. Then we took the leaves off the bush. We peeled the leaves off of the wire veins and glued them on first. We left some areas of the green disc empty of the leaves, so we would have a place to secure the flowers. We added a layer of leaves to the bottom to ensure there was no green foam showing from the sides. We also used the leaves to wrap the inside center.  we kept the flowers together in their bouquet groups and stuck them in the foam and glued to secure.

 

 

Hydrangea macrophylis bush, pink flowers, with ten young tabby kittens peeking through.

We shot the pink flower kittens on white, so that we could isolated them from the background and create the pink flower kitten collage. We loved it so much we made it into a desktop wallpaper, it is on the wallpaper page for you to download. We hope you enjoy!  We would love to see this adorable flower collage become a large piece puzzle. We think both seniors and children would love it!

 

 

 

 

One Photo Saves … How much do you know about Kelly Richardson?

rescue pet images, one photo saves, rescue photo, rescue photographer Kelly RichardsonA picture speaks a thousand words, and Kelly Richardson’s Images speak volumes for the animal rescue community.

Our Rescue Photo Program: One Photo Saves

     Kelly Richardson is committed toward helping the animal rescue community save lives. Almost all of the animals you see on this site have been saved by a Central Florida Animal Rescue Organization.  They have come to Kelly through her rescue group photo program, One Photo Saves. This program provides rescue groups with complimentary professional photos of animals that are seeking adoption.  The adorable, creative, friendly, heartwarming photographs boost rescue adoption rates, literally saving animals’ lives and create space in a pet foster volunteer’s home for more rescue animals.

 

rescue pet images, one photo saves, rescue photo, rescue photographer Kelly Richardson

 “As a result of the beautiful pictures that Kelly takes, our adoptions almost doubled from 2014 to 2015, allowing us to help other cats that need homes. We have had many adopters remark on how they were drawn to the cats because of the photos.” -Lisa M., *Cats-Can, Inc. Adoption Coordinator and Volunteer. 

     Kelly professionally photographs and promotes rescue animals at no cost to their caretakers – completely free to shelters, rescue groups and foster organizations in Central Florida.  She works directly with rescue group staff to photograph as many pets as possible at adoption events and shelters every Saturday.  Kelly processes the images, provides web ready files to the rescue for their websites. Kelly also shares those images via Kelly Richardson Images Facebook Page and  Studio Pets Twitter Page.
     On her website blog,  Kelly jumps at the opportunity to educate the public with her insights about rescues and shelters. She hopes that everyone is aware that once an animal reaches a shelter, their days are numbered.  “Over 3 million discarded dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the United States.  Anything that can be done to get them into homes is well worth the effort. ” -kr
     Kelly Richardson is based out of the Orlando Area, Florida, USA.  But her LuvKelly pet images have been used on pet products, packaging, cards, calendars, greeting cards, gift bags, websites and publications around the world. Her mission is two fold. First she hopes to increase adoptions of homeless animals by offering free professional photography to shelters, foster and rescue organizations. Second,  she hopes  to build community awareness for homeless and free-roaming pets, shelter animals, and rescue animals by licensing their images worldwide.  YOU can help Kelly make a difference. By licensing Kelly Richardson’s LuvKelly rescue pet images or scheduling a pet photo session, you are helping to save the lives of homeless animals.  Proceeds of all licensing sales go towards funding our rescue group photo program, One Photo Saves.

rescue pet images, one photo saves, rescue photo, rescue photographer Kelly Richardson

*ABOUT Cats-Can, Inc. Kelly Works closely with Cats-Can, Inc. rescue group Established in 2003, Cats-Can, Inc. is a local non-profit, organization dedicated to the rescue of homeless cats from the streets of Central Florida. They provide cats/kittens with vet care (vaccines, testing, spaying, neutering) and find new homes for them. They have placed over 600 cats in a single year into new homes and have successfully adopted over 8000 cats through a network of foster homes and through the Petsmart Luv-a-Pet Program in Oviedo, Florida. They are funded entirely through donations and adoption fees and all income goes directly toward the care of the cats. You can go to their website and click the Paypal button to make a donation.

Cats and Christmas Trees

Tabby kitten playing with green garland with ornaments
Cats and Christmas trees can be a dangerous combination. It can be very challenging to keep a cat out of a Christmas tree during the Holiday season. It looks so inviting to a cat whose natural instinct is to climb a tree. But it is best to be very cautious. Christmas trees come with many hazards for cats.  Christmas trees are a leading cause of death for cats during the holiday season. Those dazzling, twinkling lights have been known to cause death due to electric shock and or strangulation.  Ingestion of sparkling icicle tinsel and other foreign objects can send you and your feline friend to the emergency vet pretty quickly. And nevermind about the cat drinking the water from the bottom of the tree!

So how can Christmas trees and cats co-exist?

Here are some tips we found online :

1. Feline repellants – Bitter Apple sold at petstores or home made remedies are useful. We found a few home made remedies but have not tried them:  cotton balls soaked in citronella and placed under the tree may help keep them away, or try a spray made with camphor, diluted vinegar, apple cider vinegar,  or hot sauce?  BUT, Be careful about spraying a tree that has electrical wires on it (lights).  Another suggestion was to use pine cones sprayed with citrus and place those at the base of the tree, or put orange peels under the tree… cats hate the smell of citrus.
2. We have heard of people using obstacles such as tin foil under their tree, wrapped around the trunk, also clear contact paper..
3. Baby proof your tree: use plastic ornaments, unplug lights at night, check for frayed wires, use wire hangers to bend tightly around each ornament so when it is swatted it will stay on tree…..
4. Select a strong base for tree: make sure the water base is completely enclosed so that your cat can not drink the water, select a strong base that will hold tree in place or, tether the tree to the wall…. ..
5. For a sure bet to keep your cat away from the tree: put the tree in a room with a door that can be shut! You will surely sleep better at night!
For a mellow cat these ideas may actually deter them from climbing the tree, however for that stubborn, strong-willed kitten that is ready to conquer your tree these may not work. So we continued to surf the web and found this inventive idea that may be worth a purchase:  Here is a link to something called a christmas tree defender with video that looks like it really works.

 

Tabby kitten playing with green garland with ornaments

We hope all of our readers have a safe and happy holiday and please protect your kitten/cats from the christmas tree!

Recycle: Paper Chain Decoration

kitten plays with holiday garland paper chainA paper chain is an easy,  mess-free art project –  easy, fun cooperative learning that I used quite often when teaching Art Class in Elementary School.  You can hang paper chains as festive party decorations, or you can just make them for fun.

Christmas paper strips for paper chain decoration Step 1: Choose your paper.   We recycled my old scrapbook paper. I have A LOT of scrapbook paper that I do not use. It has been in my closet for over ten years and this will be the perfect way to recycle it.  My daughter and I looked through my very tall stack of colored and printed papers, searching for Thanksgiving and Christmas theme colors that went well together. TIP **If you are not a scrap booker, leftover Christmas wrapping paper also works very well.

Step 2:  Cut your paper. Try 1″ by 8.5 long.  Or size as needed, all strips should be the same size if possible, unless you plan to make some links smaller than others. I took my scrapbook paper to an office supply store and used their heavy duty paper cutter to cut mine into strips. It was quick, accurate and easy way to cut many at once. For small children, you may want to draw lines on the paper with a ruler and have them practice cutting their strips with scissors.

tabby kitten playing in paperchain christmas decorationStep 3: Tape, glue or staple the ends of the strip into a ring. Weave the second ring into place, and tape, glue or staple it and so on. Create a pattern with the different colors/designs and repeat the pattern. This is a great way to teach small children what a pattern is.  Make it as long as needed.

***Get creative: make a necklace,  christmas wreath,  and garland for tree. Use single rings as napkin rings for your dinner table!

We used our paper chains as festive garland for Thanksgiving and Christmas decoration for our November “recycled rescue kitten photo shoot”. The kittens really enjoyed playing in the paper chain garland. They poked their paws through the holes to pick it up and one of them got a ring stuck on its nose while trying to chew it!  It was adorable and fun. We also used paper chains to decorate the kitten cages and tables at our adoption events at Petsmart.

Here are a few photos from our November rescue kitten photo shoot with paper chains:

Give your old Recycled Ribbon a Swirl …

Kitten plays with orange ribbon

Last year, at the end of Fall Season, I stumbled upon a close-out of Halloween and Thanksgiving themed spools of wired ribbon at my favorite craft store: Michaels.  I knew there would be a use for them so I purchased them and stored them away.  This year, as I was unpacking my fall decorations, there they were just waiting there for me to use them. Hmmmm…..  useful for making pretty bows, but too ordinary. So we just began to unroll the recycled ribbon on our photo table in the kitty room and this is what happened next….

You would not believe how much fun the kittens had playing inside the ribbon swirls!

This shoot was taken in home settings using available light, Canon Mark III, 100 mm canon lens. Settings: f2.8 ss125 iso 250.

CLICK here to get a free, downloadable NOVEMBER Desktop CALENDAR Wallpaper

*Each month Kelly Richardson and her team of caring assistants are creating a special pet photo shoot using recycled items that can be found around the house with rescue kittens that were saved and fostered by volunteers at local no-kill rescue organizations in Orlando. We have great hopes that these photo shoot tutorials will inspire creativity and raise awareness for the planet earth and the rescue kittens. This is the LuvKelly Recycles Pet Photography Tutorial for October.

Capture the Colors of Fall – SEPTEMBER

Autumn photo shoot kitten

Capture the Colors of Fall with earth tones and rich reds, oranges and yellows.

 

LuvKelly Recycles 2015 = “Save the Kittens + Save the Earth” campaign continues …

*LuvKelly Recycles Photoshoot for SEPTEMBER. The adorable kittens photographed above are two from a litter of four that were found abandoned in a house in Mims.  They were rescued at just 4 weeks old.   They were very playful and curious, and it didn’t take them long to investigate our materials and props that we used. Their names are Ari and Autumn.  Ari, the orange and white striped tabby loved to play hide and seek inside the pumpkin as we teased him with our feather toys.  Autumn was more shy, but felt very comfortable side-by-side with her brother inside the pumpkin.  You can see from the photo, Ari is the troublemaker 🙂 It turns out their coloring worked purr-fectly with our colors in the photoshoot.  They were a joy to work with!

About the Materials we used: We recycled the carved out pumpkins – we used them last year for a Fall photo shoot.  We got them from Michaels Craft Store and used an exacto knife to cut the holes.  To make it different from last year, we replaced the orange fleece  background with a natural brown burlap material, and added more color. We collected an assortment of pine cones from outdoors. We used artificial leaves and colored berries from an old centerpiece we took apart. This shoot was taken in home settings using available light, Canon Mark III, 100 mm canon lens. Settings: f2.8 ss125 iso 250.

CLICK here to get a free, downloadable October Desktop calendar Wallpaper from this shoot.

*Each month Kelly Richardson and her team of caring assistants are creating a special pet photo shoot using recycled items that can be found around the house with rescue kittens that were saved and fostered by volunteers at local no-kill rescue organizations in Orlando. We have great hopes that these photoshoot tutorials will inspire creativity and raise awareness for the planet earth and the rescue kittens.

 

 

 

 

In the Kitchen with Sugar and Flower – AUGUST

IMG_2641Sugar_LINKEDIN

LuvKelly Recycles 2015 = “Save the Kittens + Save the Earth” campaign continues …

Each month Kelly Richardson and her team of caring assistants are creating a special pet photo shoot using recycled items that can be found around the house with rescue kittens that were saved and fostered by volunteers at local no-kill rescue organizations in Orlando. We have great hopes that these photoshoot tutorials will inspire creativity and raise awareness for the planet earth and the rescue kittens.
The theme for the LuvKelly Recycles photoshoot for the month of August is:  In the Kitchen with Sugar & Flower.   I knew I was going to be photographing these two adorable kittens. They were just rescued from the shelter and didn’t even have names yet.  I wanted to compliment their beautiful gray fur with something that also contained gray. I sat in my kitchen with a cup of coffee brainstorming… what unique recycled items can I use for this shoot that will really make their gray color pop? And suddenly  it came to me. Actually it was sitting right in front of me as I was getting my second cup of coffee.  The sugar and flour canisters! They would be a perfect way to compliment their color, and they are just the right size!   I proceeded to empty all of the sugar and flour into ziploc baggies, and shine them up for the kitchen kittens photo shoot.  After that, it was pretty easy to name these two cuties – it was only natural for them to be named kitchen kittens Sugar and Flower.
Kitchen KittensFor the background, I wanted to continue with the pure, clean, solid kitchen counter look.  At the same time, I wanted to pop the gray in there too. I knew the blankets I had would not do.
FR_2641T copySo I found some vinyl laminate squares that imitate a marble stone. I taped four together two for the bottom and two for the top and put them on my photo table.  see photo left.
TIP: It is important that you always take a photo of your background without the props and animals. see example.  This photo of the background will have many uses in the future:  to add canvKitchen Kittensas to the image later to make it a tall 5×7 greeting card (see example below), and as a pattern background see above.

 

 

 

Favorite Images from the shoot:

SEE this image on a greeting card at CARD GNOME!  Here is a link to the greeting card I created with this photoshoot, where you can see how  I used the background image for the inside of the card.

 

 

FOCUS on saving lives… How to photograph Rescues

Photographed above is Momma Serenity and her five Siamese mix babies.  Foster mom Melissa assisted Kelly to help get these amazing photos. The photos are used for each animal’s page on the Cats-Can, Inc website which feeds to Adopt-a-Pet and several other adoption sites statewide. As of August 26, 2015, the photos have been uploaded  online for just two days and already have three pending adoptions.

A great photo can be a life changer for a rescue animal.

A great percentage of people looking for a new pet use the internet to find one. They browse through the photos online through large pet adoption websites such as Petfinder, looking for the one funny, lovable, or perhaps shy little portrait that catches their eye.  They fall in love with the animal’s personality in the photo- it is the first step in the adoption process, that leads the path to the adoption event to meet the animal. We truly believe a great photo can help a rescue get adopted.
How to Photograph Rescue Cats and Kittens in a Pet Store Photographing rescue cats and kittens in a pet store is very challenging. The surroundings are very busy with shoppers. Some pet store shoppers bring their dogs.   The cats and kittens are brought in for the day from their warm, cozy foster homes and placed in the stacked cages on display hoping to meet their forever families.  Though they are given warm blankets to rest on and toys in their cages, some of the animals are scared, shy, and easily distracted.  It takes a lot of patience and dedication. Getting the purr-fect shot could take 10 seconds, 10 minutes or even a half hour.  Here are some practical tips on how to photograph a rescue cat in a pet store at an adoption event, including a link to a tutorial how to make a photo box for the shoot, and must know camera settings. Check back for a follow up  Photoshop tutorial on how to smooth out the background wrinkles.

IMG_2119_clips

 

  1. PREPARE for the Rescue Photo Shoot: Make a Photo box- to be done beforehand. See  How to Make a Photo Box. A photo box is very helpful in giving the rescue animal a sense of security because they are surrounded by walls on three sides.  It also helps contain the animal in one place, making it easier to get a photo.
  2. PREPARE by choosing your backgrounds and props before hand. Use colorful happy backgrounds and props. Using props are great for several reasons.  First they add a comfortable, relateable, home feel to the image. Secondly, for those animals that may want to run away, using hat boxes and other props they can fit in, helps give them a more secure feeling.  It is their initial instinct to hide in strange settings.  I let the animal tell me what props to use, based on their behavior.
  3. PREPARE by bringing an assortment of feather teasers, and treats to get the animals attention during the photo shoot.
  4. At the store – choose a location in the store where you will place your photo box.  Set-up a card table for your box in a quiet corner close to the adoption event area. Some pet stores have a cat room with a door that can be closed with clear windows.  If you can set-up your box in the cat room that would be even better.  If a cat or kitten gets loose in the store that would not be good.  Using a cat room with a door that you can shut, gives the animal and you more peace and quiet and a safety zone to catch the animal in if it gets away!
  5. ALWAYS have a volunteer assistant on hand to help with the rescue animals.  Kelly likes to use the cats/kittens foster parent to help with the animal. The cats are much more at ease with someone they know and recognize and are more willing to relax and play.  Another volunteer assistant should be on standby. The most important job of the assistant is to ensure the animal does not jump out of the box and run away  in the store. The second most important job of the assistant is to interact and play with the rescue to get the perfect photo.
  6. BEFORE you begin the photo shoot at the store, you should check and adjust your white balance camera settings first. Most pet stores use flourescent lights. Do not use flash. Kelly recommends using a gray card to set a custom white balance on your DSLR camera.  This will ensure your photo do not have a purple colorcast, and will keep your whites truly white.
  7. Choose your lens wisely.  Kelly uses a variety of fixed macro lenses for her pet photography beginning with a 50 mm, 85mm, and 100mm. Her favorite go to for the pet stores is the 50mm because there is a small space.  She uses the 100mm in studio because she has more room to back up.  Use a large aperature, and your shutter speed should be at least as fast as your lens length.  Shoot in macro to blur the background and keep your foreground sharp. Kelly suggests as large as your camera will go- f2.8.  Adjust your ISO after you have decided what you want your settings to be. Above images were taken with a Canon Mark III,  50mm lens f2.8, ss 90 iso 800, spot metering, custom white balance taken with gray card.
  8. DURING the shoot, You and your volunteer assistant should plan to spend at least 10 minutes caring, petting and loving the animal in the photo box, before attempting to take any photos.  Show the animal the props and toys you brought, interact and play with the animal. Give it a treat. Talk to the animal in a soft voice. Gaining the animal’s trust is a must. If the cat’s foster mom is there to assist, this step can be substantially shortened as the animal will already be at ease.
  9. With such a large aperature, you must focus on the eyes.  Get on the cats level. Use of an assistant is a must to help bring the animal’s eyes up and to the camera lens.  With the fourescent lights so far above in the pet stores, it is even more important to catch a glimpse of light in the eyes to keep them from looking dark and hollow.  The animal’s personality speaks from it’s eyes.
  10. Try to use feather teasers and treats. Teach your assistant what to do by demonstrating beforehand. Dip the teaser down in front of the animal, then up and to the side of the camera lens to get that picture. Make funny noises, but be sure they don’t scare the cat.  It takes alot of patience. If you feel it is not working, give the animal and you a break, by trying again later and moving on. The second time around is always a charm!
    kitten inside cardboard box photo booth
    kitten inside cardboard box photo booth
Kelly is a professional pet photographer and big animal advocate. She spends her spare time as a foster mom for rescued kittens at Cats-Can and has been volunteering with this local no-kill rescue group since May.  She volunteers her time and photography on weekends – photographing new cats and kittens that come in each week.

How to make a Photo Box

In PREPARATION for a Rescue Photo Shoot, it is important to come to the store prepared. The photo box should be made ahead of time.  Here is a tutorial with pictures of how to make a photo box. This is the actual photo box that Kelly uses to take photos of cat/kitten rescues every weekend at Petsmart.

 

Materials needed: large cardboard box, exact-o knife to cut cardboard, several sheets of white poster board, rubber cement glue, 8-10 office clips. There are a variety of materials that can be used instead- it is personal preference. We used recycled materials that kelly found around the house to make this photo box without having to purchase anything extra. Kelly would love to hear how you made your photo box. Please contact her if you have any great ideas that work better.

  • Create a photo box/booth using a large cardboard box. Cut the box so that the corner edges stay intact for durability. See image below. Cover the inside of the box with white poster board (or white spray paint if box is clean).  Box can be folded back together for easy transport.

    cardboard photo box
    cardboard photo box

 

  •  Prepare to use 8-10 clipsclip to hold blanket backdrop in place. see photo. cut through poster board and box to make a hole for the bottom back clips to slide into  place from outside in..IMG_2119_clips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  •  Using office clips, clip the blanket to the inside of the box tightly.  Kelly clipped the blanket down in the back bottom corners with clips from the outside in through the holes. You can not see them because they are underneath the blanket. She folded the edges of the blanket to make it neat and tight from the corners.
kitten inside cardboard box photo booth
kitten inside cardboard box photo booth
STAY TUNED for the next Pet Photo Tutorial with tips on how to take the purr-fect photo in the pet store, followed by how to get those fleece pock marks and or wrinkles out of the background quickly in no time.