Tiphanie Anderson, a HeARTs Speak Aspiring Member, was awarded the Outstanding Volunteer Award for her photography work in 2012 with companion animals at PAWS, an organization of people helping animals near Seattle, WA.
The award reads: Your presence and artistic eye can transform even the shyest cat or dog into a supermodel. You see beauty in orphaned and abandoned animals, and with every click of your camera, you help others to see it, too. By showing every animal’s best side, you are helping so many find homes.
Molly Reagan Axt, a PAWS volunteer programs manager adds: Tiphanie has been a long-time advocate for dogs. Her passion shines through in the work she does!
Tiphanie’s passion and artistic eye is evident in the photos she posts on her blog, TDogPics. She plans to open her pet photography business next year when her daughter starts driving, and Tiphanie is no longer employed as the chauffeur!
Recently, Tiphanie answered some questions about the award, her photography, and her love of animals.
Tell us about receiving the award.
I was so honored to receive an award like this. PAWS has so many dedicated volunteers, and I’m proud to be one of them. But the real reward is being able to help these animals, even if it’s in a small way. If I am feeling down, I come to PAWS and look at these animals, and think about how lucky I am to have my home and family. Even though they might be frightened or sad, they are in a place where they will get the best care and opportunity to find their forever homes and that is definitely something to feel optimistic about.
What is it like to volunteer for PAWS?
PAWS has extremely dedicated employees. I think this is the best thing about volunteering at Paws. You are truly part of a team working together for the same goal—the good of the animals. They have great communication with their volunteers, provide valuable training opportunities, and they show their appreciation in so many ways, from awards and a yearly Volunteer Appreciation Dinner to something as simple as leaving goodies on the counter with a thank you note!
What inspired you to help animals at PAWS?
I’ve always loved animals and wanted to help them in any way I could. I started out as a dog walker and then switched to working on the web team. Animals can’t speak our language to stick up for themselves, and they deserve a voice. My goal is always to show the personality of the dog or cat I’m photographing in hopes of giving them that voice, to help them communicate wordlessly to possible adopters.
When did you first become interested in being an artist?
I was interested in creating portraits of animals since I was a young child. I spent endless hours drawing pictures of my pets and other animals, and I still have the photograph I took in middle school of a neighborhood’s cat. I became interested in photography again several years ago when my Dad gave me his Olympus DSLR.
What inspired you to focus on animals?
When I was little, we moved a lot, but I always had an animal to talk to when I was lonely. Animals don’t care what you are wearing, or that you didn’t put on any makeup that morning, or how much money you make. They give so much unconditional love.
Do you have a special animal success story you would like to share?
I photographed a wonderful ten-year-old Pit Bull named Moose. He had two strikes against him, being a senior and a Pit Bull, but he had the most expressive eyes! His adopters said they saw a picture of Moose online and “immediately felt a connection. His face had such personality!” I was happy to hear this because it meant I had done my job. I have a soft spot for both senior dogs and the Pit Bulls, and it felt good to help Moose, since he was both!
Do you have any advice for new artists who are just getting started with volunteering to help animals like Moose?
Do some research and find an organization that mirrors your beliefs and goals regarding animal welfare. Follow your passion. PAWS is great because in addition to companion animals they also help wildlife, so there are opportunities for animal lovers of all types. And have patience; it might take some time to get training and set up to volunteer, because these people are working hard every day to help the animals, and they can get pretty busy! But hang in there, because the rewards are so worth it!
My name is Tiphanie Anderson, and I am a volunteer at PAWS animal shelter. My work at PAWS includes photographing stray and adoptable animals and posting their profiles to Petfinder.com. It is extremely rewarding and challenging, and my goal with each photograph is to help the animal communicate wordlessly their own unique personality, in hopes of finding their perfect forever home. These animals deserve to be represented visually for who they are, not their circumstances or current location, which is beyond their control.
Why the name “TDogPics”? It is inspired by my three dogs, T.J., Trixie, and Truffles. They were all adopted from shelters and rescue groups. I hope to help other companion animals like them find their own forever homes so they can be loved as much as our dogs!
Website Links: www.tdogpics.com
Twitter Links: https://twitter.com/tiphanie67