Making Photo Magic

Alexandra BaggsAdopt, Dogs, Volunteers10 Comments

Getting amazing photos of adoptable animals can be a challenge. But luckily for us, we have an incredible group of photographers and assistants that are able to make magic happen. In honor of National Dog Photography Day on July 26, we’re so excited to introduce you to our dog photography Dream Team: photographer Ash and assistants Claudia and Roseli.

If you’ve been around our social media pages or our website, you’ve likely seen Ash’s photos, and you’ve probably seen Claudia’s face, too. She’s often in the photos interacting with the dogs with a big, amazing grin on her face.

Ash Ahuja first remembers picking up a camera and creating “photography experiments” as an 8-year-old living in India. At age 11, he was paralyzed and ended up in a wheelchair, and from there, his interest in photography grew. He moved to the United States as an adult and his passion for photography led him to shooting for fashion magazines and even Fashion Week in New York and Miami.

Ash loved taking photos of pets whenever possible. As a kid, he used his film camera to fill up rolls and rolls of photos of his black Lab, Luka. A few years ago he decided he wanted to use his skills to help out animal shelters in the area, and the rest is history. He became a volunteer at HSSV, where we quickly realized just how lucky we were to have him.

We put Ash in touch with mother-daughter volunteer team Roseli and Claudia, who had been volunteering as dog socializers for a few years.

Claudia had loved animals ever since she was young, and her mom Roseli always encouraged this interest by taking her to visit animals shelters. In high school, Claudia was part of the Work Readiness Program at the California School for the Deaf, where advisors helped her apply to be a volunteer at HSSV. Claudia had volunteered in grooming shops, kennels, and veterinary clinics before, but socializing dogs at HSSV was always her dream. “Socializing with these incredible creatures is magical,” she says. “Here, there are no language barriers. Dogs are really smart, and can relate very directly to body language and pick up on fears, needs, happiness, and joy with no words required.”

Ash, Claudia, and Roseli began to work together to photograph our dogs. Claudia and Roseli would help Ash with handling the dogs, getting their attention for photos, and making sure the dogs were calm and comfortable during photo sessions. Very quickly, it became apparent that not only was Claudia great at handling the dogs behind the scenes, she was a natural in front of the camera, too. Ash began including Claudia in photos with the dogs, which was helpful in showing off different sides of the dogs’ personalities. “I’ve never done any modeling before,” Claudia says, “but what really motivates me is that I know that by doing that I can play a role in enhancing the chance that these dogs may find love in a forever home.”

Now, several years later, the Dream Team is a well-oiled machine. They meet up as often as possible to take photos of as many dogs as they can in an afternoon. The three of them have figured out their rhythm and are able to get hundreds of incredible photos of our adoptable dogs. “Claudia and Roseli do such an amazing job with modeling, calming the dogs down, playing with them, and listening to my requests that it makes photographing the dogs a blast for me! Claudia’s passion for dogs and Roseli’s patience make them a true joy to work with,” says Ash. Ash’s favorite part of photographing dogs is making their personalities come alive. “I especially like taking photos of dogs that are older, blind, or have a disability,” he says. That compassion for older dogs or those with challenges shines through in his photos.

“Ash has a keen eye for capturing the special and unique moments of pure joy of each dog–the magic moments,” says Roseli. We couldn’t agree more! Volunteers like Ash, Claudia, and Roseli are a critical part to making our mission possible. We are so grateful to this amazing trio for their hard work and passion.

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10 Comments on “Making Photo Magic”

  1. I’m all for whatever it takes to get these wonderful animal adopted. Thank you all for what you do.. You seem to catch the personality of the pets so perfectly. Happy homes to all of them. I have three and one was adopted from your organization 10 years ago.. He has some medical issues but we are in it for the long haul.

  2. Thank you so much, Alexandra! You did a fantastic job, capturing the essence of the what we were trying to convey.
    I felt moved reading about the experience, described so artfully. It is a lovely piece!

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