HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH SHELTER PETS

Photo by: Eric Delmar, Montclair Animal Shelter, Montclair, NJ

Photo by: Eric Delmar, Montclair Animal Shelter, Montclair, NJ

BASEMEANT WRX’S FIRST GALLERY NIGHT WAY BACK WHEN IN 2015 WAS LOCAL NJ PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC DELMAR. ERIC’S PHOTOGRAPHY JUST MAKES YOU FEEL CALM. HIS SUBTLE TECHNICAL ABILITY ALLOWS THE FAMILIAR SUBJECT MATTER TO SHINE.

BEING THE GOOD SOUL THAT HE IS, ERIC DONATES HIS TIME TO PHOTOGRAPHING THE RESCUE PETS AT THE MONTCLAIR ANIMAL SHELTER. HE HAS BEEN INVOLVED WITH HELPING TO SHOWCASE THE DOGS & CATS THAT ARE AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION FOR THE PAST FEW YEARS. HIS PHOTOGRAPHY REALLY CAPTURES THE RESCUE PETS’ SPIRIT. AND THE GLAMOUR SHOTS HELP TO CATCH POTENTIAL ADOPTERS’ ATTENTION & INCREASE THEIR CHANCES OF FINDING A FOREVER HOME.

SO OF COURSE, US BEING VERY PROUD OWNERS OF OUR RESCUE DOGS STEW AND LUCY, WE 100% SUPPORT AND LOVE ERIC FOR USING HIS TALENT FOR GOOD.

AND ISN’T THAT THE BEST KIND OF VOLUNTEER WORK? THE KIND THAT ALLOWS YOUR SPECIAL GIFT TO SHINE AND HELP OTHERS AT THE SAME TIME?

SO, IF YOU ARE A PHOTOGRAPHER THAT IS INTERESTED IN HELPING YOUR LOCAL ANIMAL SHELTER, CHECK OUT ERIC’S LATEST POST ON HIS SITE FOR A HOW TO GUIDE.

ERIC MAPS OUT FROM A TO Z WHAT YOU NEED TO GET STARTED & HOW TO CAPTURE AND EDIT GREAT PHOTOS OF DOGS & CATS IN ANIMAL SHELTERS.

IN OUR SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD, BEING ABLE TO SHARE GREAT IMAGES OF THESE ANIMALS IS KEY TO FINDING THEM GOOD HOMES.

CLICK HERE: ERIC DELMAR “SHELTER SHOTZ”

WORKING WITH YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER

 

THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE FEELING OF BEING 2ND FIDDLE

 

Every article on “Working with your significant other” will tell you a few of the following:

-        Communication is key

-        Set time aside to NOT talk about work

-        Make a point to throw in a few “Good jobs!”

 

This post isn’t about any of that. This is for the person who needs a little pat on the back.

An “I get what you do.”  A silent nod of acknowledgement.  Because partnering with an artist can make you feel like there is only one spotlight, and you’re not in it.

                

Every once in awhile I feel frustrated, because I get the feeling people think Chris is the creative, talented genius, and I am his personal assistant, just there to answer emails and help him carry out a coffee table.  And in some aspects of what we do, that is true. I order the supplies he needs, make sure he has the right materials and measurements, then let him loose in his workshop, making sure to swoop in at the end to post an instagram.

What seems to get lost in translation is that I do a lot of the not so fun stuff that doesn’t seem to have perceived value, unless you have personally attempted them yourself.

 

FOR EXAMPLE...

WEBSITE

If you have a business, you need a website. And it should be awesome. Because if it isn’t then you look like a fraud.  So I researched the best website builder for my lack of skill level/lack of interest in ever learning to code.  Squarespace fit the bill. Its easy to use, it looks modern and professional and they keep track of your billing, domain renewal and bonus email set up.

This was of course after I fumbled with Godaddy, Hostmonster, Wordpress, etc. for a year or two.  I swear my 6-year-old niece is already learning to code, and she could have done a better job right out the gate.  Similar to how my father freaked out over remembering a 6-digit passcode to his iPhone, I didn’t grow up with building websites.  I remember a brief project in college and saying to myself “Thank god that class is over…” One of the many life lessons I would tell my 20-year-old self.

DEALING WITH CLIENTS

A 10 ft. farm table doesn’t just miraculous appear. In between the request and delivery are sketches, material approvals, client meetings, price quotes, visiting suppliers and countless emails and phone calls. Once the table is planted firmly on the rug, Chris gets a handshake and the “Great job!” while I fold up the packing supplies and beam in agreement.

And again, Chris does things I can’t and wouldn’t ever want to do. I can’t sand a table for hours, switching sanding discs from heavy to fine… I won’t research new techniques or watch YouTube videos to solve a construction problem.  But he does thankfully or else we wouldn’t have a business.

BUDGET

Need a new tool? All out of epoxy?

It is imperative to have one person manage the money. I always know what events we have coming up, what deposits we are waiting for and what bills need to be paid. That way Chris isn’t spending the money I already have allocated. Also, I can say, “Do you need that tool immediately to complete this project?” Usually not….

SOCIAL MEDIA

I have probably said it over 100 times. I need a teenager to manage our social media.

Unfortunately social media isn’t just posting a good looking photo with a sly caption and hoping for the best. You first need content, and lots of it. Then it’s a matter of figuring out the best time to post, engaging with your current followers on each platform, trying to make new followers…and staying on top of the newest features.

 Oh wait now Instagram Stories is what everyone looks at because we are all literally too lazy to scroll? (Myself included)

After 9 months of managing our 1st Pop Up and trying to improve our social media presence I was so burnt out that I didn’t touch Facebook or Instagram for a whole month. Like complete social media silence. I needed a break. I felt forced. Everything I posted or was going to post didn’t feel genuine. Just a “Look at me, look at me!”

So once I was ready to get back on the saddle I made the conscious decision to not post every day like everyone tells you to do. But instead post once or twice a week. That was manageable for me. And I wouldn’t get sick of myself.

I am still trying to post different content to Facebook but I just can’t get on that train right now. Our Facebook presence is pathetic at best. But I know I need something up there because there is still the random person that doesn’t use instagram… 

TAXES

-Yes, we all know how awesome and fun taxes are. But let’s face it. In order to do your taxes correctly and actually try to get money back you have to always have that dirty word in the back of your mind. There is nothing worse than having no idea what receipts are for what in mid March… So updating QuickBooks, having a filing system (or “organized piles” as I do), keeping track of those donations are all part of the goal not to cry come April 15th. Sorry, not April 15th … when you have a business where you paid artists or vendors, you need to get them their W9s in January, so that they can do their taxes on time.  So crying time would be right after New Year’s…

MORAL OF THE STORY...

The main take away from all this, (it’s not to pity me, trust me), is that working with your partner is challenging if you are both super competitive and feel that you aren’t recognized for your work, or opposite that you aren’t pulling your own weight. Unlike a corporate job where you leave the office and can go home and bitch about your job or your coworker… you can’t do that at home. Because in this case, your coworker is husband.

Just do what I just did… make a list of the things you do, that your partner doesn’t/can’t/or won’t. And realize, they couldn’t exist without you either… 

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POP UP INS & OUT

So now that we found the space, we had to get moving on what running a Pop Up actually entailed.

First Things First…

LEASE

We were very fortunate that our new landlords were already experienced in this area.  So there wasn’t a 20 page document of legal mumbo jumbo that makes you nervous.

Terms:

We had a Month to Month lease agreement with the owner allowing us 1 month notice to vacate. We paid 1st, last and a security deposit. Then it was a waiting game of us holding out until the owners could demo the building, which as per the locals, would take awhile due to the town politics…

Utilities: Electric, Gas, Water & Internet

We contacted PSEG and set up service in our name for electric and gas. The electricity was still on in the empty building, but the gas had been shut off. We needed the gas for heating if we were still there in winter. The town had to come and turn the water on, which took the longest.

Repairs:

Kindly, the owners had the heat checked (in June) to ensure we would be ok for the winter. There were some random cabinets and a dryer left in the space, but I was able to move into a side room. I didn’t mind, honestly. I was just so happy to have the giant raw space to work with.

We had to do a thourough cleaning, sweeping, washing windows, making the bathroom look somewhat presentable. But it was all worth it.

Parking:

We had the 2 spots in front of the building (where we had previously illegally parked during the street fair). From the day we opened the shop, I spent the majority of the time asking people to stop illegally parking and running errands (so as to avoid paying the meter). Fun times… But finally about 4 months in people got the hint.

INSURANCE

Usually for short term Pop Ups people will get insurance for the day or the weekend. But since we planned on being in the space for a minimum of 3 months, I had to get REAL insurance. Luckily our insurance broker that we use for our automotive insurance was awesome and she hooked us up with a good deal. The issue with Pop Ups is really that some people still don’t understand what they are or why you would do them. So there isn’t a lot of examples to follow.

TOWN STUFF

I called the Town’s Zoning and Permits department to get an idea of what I would need to legally open. Again, the concept of short term rentals was something new… so therefore I basically gave up. I applied and paid the $50 fee for a monthly temporary sign to get me to sleep at night for the first month. But I knew I wasn’t going to pay $50 every month…  And I wasn’t going to pay the yearly fee for the sign because I might not be there that long (and my current sign was basically a plastic banner that I used for our 10 x 10 Tent at Fairs/Markets). After the first 3 months of back and forth trying to make a new law for Pop Ups, the zoning guy and I just pretended we could never actually get in touch by ignoring each other’s phone calls and emails. So I just moved on.

FUN STUFF

So once all that tricky legal and practical stuff was out of the way, we could move on to the fun stuff like decorating, creating new business cards with our shop address, making a cheesy announcement in the local paper and starting to plan our first event.

Keep in mind that Chris and I had literally no idea what we were doing. Every day was something I had never done before or even thought of. So we made a lot of mistakes, tried our best to learn from them and moved on quickly. Because there will always be Quickbooks to do.

 

HOW WE FOUND OUR 1ST POP UP

You can research all you want, do all the right things and check all the boxes.

But sometimes FATE + LUCK are really all you need...

OUR FIRST POP UP SHOP: WALNUT ST, MONTCLAIR, NJ. SUMMER 2015- APRIL 2016

OUR FIRST POP UP SHOP: WALNUT ST, MONTCLAIR, NJ. SUMMER 2015- APRIL 2016

It was the Walnut Street Fair, May 2015 and we had our tent set up in front of our soon to be Pop Up. Unknowingly we illegally parked our Jeep in the building's parking lot. Halfway through the street fair the owners of the building came around and asked us to move our car. We started chatting, Chris gave them our card which has our slogan on it, "We like our furniture like we like our dogs. Rescued." Turns out the owner was a Veterinarian so they let us keep our car there. As we were packing up from the event, we saw the owners again. 

Chris- "That is an amazing space. What are you doing with it? 

Owner- "Oh we are knocking it down to build our home. But its going to take a while."

Me - "You should have a Pop Up in the space until you are ready to demo. That way you can make some money and have someone watch your parking lot. Hahaha."

Owner- "Would you do it? Would you run the Pop Up?"

Me- "Uhhhh yes. Yes I would."

And thats it. Thats how we found our space. No researching on Commercial Real Estate sites, or working with a local realtor. We just fell into it. Total and complete Irish Luck. 

Now that year we had been doing Street and Art Fairs, set up an Etsy shop and wanted to have our own store front to test our idea and see if it actually worked/if we liked it.  So we had the want, and the need. And I guess sometimes you put things out into the universe and it listens. I am always trying to recreate that magic in our lives. But you can't force it. You just have to seize it when the stars align.

Moral of the Story: Keep your eyes open for opportunity. And for your next Veterinarian.