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Shelter Photography

If you are interested in volunteering your photography talents at your local shelter, here’s a few articles you might find helpful.

  1. Pet rescue and shelter photography: A “saving grace” for homeless pets. Can you help?

  2. Pet photography: Calling all volunteer pet photographers and shelter managers

  3. Pet Photography 101: What is aperture and how does it effect my pet photos? Going manual

  4. Pet photography 101: What is the best digital camera auto settings to use when photographing pets?
  5. Shelter Me Photography:Nanette Martin continuing her mission for shelter pets- slideshow included

  6. Volunteer pet rescue/shelter photography series: Part 1- Getting started

  7. Volunteer pet rescue/shelter photography series: Part 2- Doing an organized shoot

You can find these articles and much more on my page
Southeast Missouri Pet Photography Examiner

And have a gander at this article as well. It’s written by my friend, photographer and author Gretchen Steele. Read what she has to say about the backgrounds of your images.

Shoot to Thrill: Calling all photographers — time to join the ‘Border Patrol’, by Gretchen Steele

Image Fix- a shelter project- non profits

Anyone who knows me personally or follows me in any way online is well aware that I am a huge animal lover. I have been involved with shelters and rescues for many years and will do anything I can to help out anyone saving animals.

I don’t have a lot of money to give, but I have skills, and they are worth something.

One of those skills is the art of image enhancement and restoration. I have revamped more images in the past decade than I can possibly count.

Here’s a simple enhancement. Cost to my clients for this level of correction: $10

Click here to see several other examples.

This is a way for your shelter to pull in donations while giving something back to your supporters. It costs nothing to enroll and is simple to do.

How does it work?

1. Shelters must sign up using this survey form. This is information needed to verify an organizations non-profit status and secure payment information on where to send the donations each month.

2.  Any non profit in the US may register.

3. Registered non-profits spread the word using any communication available to their organization. Information and links to the site can be shared by:

  • Social media
  • Website
  • Email contacts
  • Newsletter
  • Inserts into adoption packages
  • Organizational events
  • Flyers
  • Newspaper ads
  • Various other forms of communication and advertising
    The more you share, the more you make!
    Link directing supporters to the link to make their orders.

4. Through this link clients are informed on how to order enhancements, of which 1/2 of every purchase goes as a donation to the shelter of their choice. Please check the link for a current list of participating shelters and rescues.

5. The first week of each month, sales profits are calculated for the previous month each participating shelter is paid for their participation.

Free money. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Click here to read more about this offer. If you are a shelter and wish to sign up, there’s a link to do so at the bottom of the page. You can’t collect donations if you are not registered.

If you are an individual who thinks your local shelter or rescue group would be interested in this sort of fundraiser, please share the link so that they may get started.

Remember, this programs is for any non profit animal organization in the USA

Have questions? Just ask by leaving a question in the space below. I will respond asap.

What are you waiting for?

A little color back home

I recently had the opportunity to go back home and spend some time shooting with a friend of mine. I have known Gretchen forever. Her mother was my third grade school teacher and our lives have been intertwined throughout the years in one fashion or another for as long as I can remember.

Yesterday, we got to “play” together for the first time in many moons. We were hoping to spot a few deer foraging for the evening meal but we weren’t so fortunate. But the setting sun was casting some beautiful color in the evening sky and there was no sense in wasting that.

Enjoy . . .

First stop for color was City Lake. Can’t tell you the countless hours I spent at this place growing up. Funny how I see it differently now than I ever did way back when. I can see the beauty of the shadows of a fall evening out here. It’s a good place to sit and work out the trivia of the day or simply appreciate the beauty of the landscape.

Driving along Gretchen spied this great find. Nice silhouettes in the distance. It kept us busy for awhile.

Shadows and silhouettes might not be everyone’s cup of tea but they sure make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

“Back home” for me is rural America. Farm land as far as the eye can see and flat for the most part. That enables one to get some really nice shots on the horizon in the harsher rays of the early or late sun. Thousands of acres that have remained unchanged for hundred of years, or at least for as long as I remember.

But there have been some changes. Modern society and the increasing need for energy have transformed a chunk of that farm land into a major mecca of movement.

Imagine driving down a country road with corn and bean fields in every direction with nothing around but the occasional home spotting the landscape. Off in the distance you can see something poking above the horizon that looks more than a little out of place.
Right in front of you, just a few miles outside of a handful of small Illinois towns, in the middle of a field, you can happen upon this monster looming in the horizon. Something about it just seems sinister in the late evening shadows of the setting sun.

Traveling the road the transfer lines are visible far into the sunset.

It all seemed less ominous as we drove away.

I was thrilled with the color I captured on my little outing, and had a wonderful time with my friend. I look forward to the next time we can “play” again.

Popular print sizes

I’m working on a few specials for print pricing this fall and I thought it would be important to find out what people want before I choose what goes into those specials.

If you could take the time to answer just one question it would help me so much.

Please feel free to share the poll with your friends and family. The more demographics that it hits the better.

Thanks in advance!

Waste not, want not: A Chicken and Dressing recipe

Dressing is not something that’s common place on the tables of America today. It’s an old school recipe that’s a little more time-consuming to prepare than most folks are willing to put into it. Sure you see it on Thanksgiving, other holidays, or assorted special occasions. But it’s just not as prevalent as it once was for the average American diet.

Now while a tasty side dish for any pork or poultry meal, dressing wasn’t on the menu in my Nany’s kitchen simply because it was delicious food.

I had once noted when I was young that dressing appeared on many tables about the end of each week. Sunday was a big dressing day at Nany’s and something my grandfather drooled about for days, in anticipation of the gooey stuff.

One Sunday morning as Nany toasted every scrap of “leftover” bread in the kitchen, I asked her what was up with dressing on Sundays.Did we have dressing on Sunday’s because it was a special day?

She said “Well, you see all this here bread I am toasting in the oven? I have been saving it all week for this pan of dressing. The heals from loaves of bread, couple of left over biscuits, some cornbread too crumbly to spread butter on.  All go into the dressing bin. Sunday just happens to be the day that falls at the end of the week and we have to use the bread before it goes bad. Don’t want to waste those good left overs. Don’t want to throw out money”

I answered with a nod noting the bread loaf heals, stale biscuits from meals earlier in the week, and even a clump of cornbread from the day we had eaten ham and beans.

She went on to explain to me that when she was growing up, before it was common place to buy bread in a store and most people couldn’t afford it anyway, bread in her home was made on Mondays. Bread for meals, sandwiches, or dipping in soup, all prepared in one day to last an entire week. Cornbread and biscuits filled in on days when sliced bread wasn’t required, and no one ever minded a fluffy pan of biscuits topped with country milk gravy.

So dressing was a Sunday staple not as a special occasion, but out of necessity and saving waste. It was about not throwing away money. Dressing was about making the most of every little crumb, and enjoying it.

So when I went into my kitchen today and seen the half a bag of left over hamburger buns, and knew they were going to go bad if I didn’t do something with them soon, dressing came to mind. I hate to waste anything, especially food, so I scrounged around the kitchen to see what I could come up with.I threw the buns in the over to toast.

Toasted Buns

Once out of the oven I crumbled up the buns and added onions, rosemary, sage, salt, pepper, and lavender. Yes I said lavender. It grows right along side the rest of my herbs and adds a wonderful kick to my recipes. The aromatics are to die for.

Seasoned breadcrumb

I needed some broth to mix up this dressing so I used the chicken breasts I had thawed in the fridge. I cut them up in chunks and browned them for flavor, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. Once they were slightly browned I added about a cup of water to de-glaze all the goodies that were stuck to the pan. I let it simmer for about 15 minutes.

Cookin chicken

Then I removed all the chicken from the pan and used the “broth” from the chicken to mix up my dressing.


Along with the broth I poured over my seasoned bread crumbs I added 1 egg and about 1/2 cup of milk. I stirred the mixture lightly, just enough to coat all the crumbs. (Note, if you stir it too much, it will all turn into a big glob.)

Wet dressingIt’ll look like a big wet mess of goo until you bake it, but my mouth was watering at this point. The smell of the smashed herbs rising out of this mixture was delicious.

So now the chicken goes back into the original iron skillet I fried and de-glazed it in.

Chicken in a pan

And then I spread the dressing mixture over the top of the chicken. Yes, I said the dressing goes over the top.

Chicken and dressing

Then it all went into the oven on 375 degrees.

The next 35 minutes my house smelled like a spring herb garden with a hint of roasted freshness.

Then out of the oven to rest for a few minutes, it was actually a “pretty” dish that would have made any one of my chef friends proud.

I’m thinking you could probably divide this recipe up before baking, into individual size servings,  and cooked them in separate mounds in the pan. Might make serving a bit easier.

Chicken and dressing baked

From the side you can see the layer of dressing melted into the layer of chicken chunks.

LayersI wondered as I cut into it what this was going to look like plated up. And maybe I should have went with the individual serving size mounds, but much to my surprise I think it came out looking fairly sharp plated up.

Plated upAnd wow, it really did taste as good as it looked and smelled. It came out hearty, full of flavor from the fresh herbs, and was quite filling for a one course meal.

Chicken and stuffingI think the only thing it was missing, was some type of glaze or sauce over the top.

Like maybe a cranberry glaze made from boiling a bag of fresh cranberry’s to death  with a cup or so of white sugar, a cup of water, and some lemon zest. Maybe even add a splash of Tabasco or red pepper to the glaze to make a sweet and spicy addition to this dish.Garnish with s spring of fresh mint and wha-lah! a gourmet meal.

Just drizzle the glaze liberally over the top after plating.Hmmmm yes, that sounds about right. Too bad I didn’t have cranberries in the house.

Chicken and dressing 2Quite possibly another flavor that would go well with the herb blend in the dressing would be fresh orange juice. I’ll bet the added orange flavor and cranberry glaze would really make this dish pop.

At any rate my Nany would be proud. I used up that bread that would have went to waste and created a smart one pan meal for a few bucks.

*Note: All photos taken for this illustration were shot with my iPhone. (I love my iPhone:-)

Waste not want not….good advise, especially in the kitchen.

Humane Society calendars to hit the stands soon

Three years in a row I have shot the photos for the yearly calendar put out by the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri, located in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Every year it’s a tedious process what with trying to line out a dozen human models and a dozen pets, and rarely the pairs or groups come from the same homes. That’s a minimum of 24 people (models and pet owners) to lock into appointment times and it is never a simple task. Folks are all just so busy these days.

But as in previous years we set out to make it happen and it did, and I think it all came out wonderfully. The calendars went to print last week full of adorable adoptable pets and the children who love them dearly, and of course 12 happy sponsors who’s donations made getting all the calendars printed possible.

None of these images are in the calendar. You’ll have to wait for it to come out and get yourself a copy to see all the kids and pets together.

I promise it’s chock full of cuteness and a wonderful way to support one of our local shelters. 100 percent of the proceeds goes to help the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri to keep their doors open. And like shelters all over the country, they need all the help they can get right now.

Look forward to future postings on how you can order your calendar hot off the press.

Pet Photography Examiner-

Pet’s are a major part of my life and photographing them is a big love of mine. Like children they are blessed with a vast range of personalities. I have enjoyed all I have encountered over the years.

I photograph pets in their homes, at events, on location, in shelters, on farms, and a variety of other places too numerous to mention. I think it is safe to say that I have a little experience with the subject.

So I write about photographing pets as well and have a column with titled Pet Photography Examiner. I cover topics for the St. Louis and Southeast Missouri Region.

I write about subjects like, how to take a better photo of your pet, camera settings, and interviews with photographers from areas throughout the region.

You can find a complete list of my articles on pet photography by clicking here.

Children at Play

ZoKids. They just do what they do, and pour every ounce of themselves into whatever it is they’re into at the moment. They’re amazing creatures and if you just watch them, uninterrupted, you just might learn a think or two. 

It doesn’t take a big studio, lots of tedious lighting, or even a Sunday-best outfit to make quality portraits, especially with children.

Good portraits should capture not only the likeness of our subject, but their personality as well. And some of the best images captured will happen when you least expect them.elly

You simply cannot get this naturally thoughtful image from an orchestrated pose.

I’ll give you that these are not your typical portrait images and I by no means insinuate that you have your next children’s portrait session in a mud hole.

But try your child’s next photographic session in their comfort zone, doing their own thing, while your photographer does theirs.

I didn’t have a bit of trouble getting these youngsters to smile for me.


Gone are the stodgy old portraits of yesteryear.

We’ve busted out of the studio and the possibilities are endless.

~ Gila

New Beginnings

Nothing quite like new beginnings. A little scary and yet exciting. We all have them if we are lucky and those of us who are smart make the most of them and usually come out ahead of the game. Life is after all, all about the ride.

I’m sure you have heard the saying “When one door closes another one opens.” Well I believe that to be true. This blog is a testament to my faith in that concept.

Join me on my ride and let the games begin:-)

Life's a Blur

Life's a Blur by Gila Todd

Interview: Gretchen Steele, hunting dog photographer

A typical morning for many photographers is up early, dress nicely, and out the door for coffee on the way to the studio or location.

But Gretchen doesn’t start her day like most photographers. She’s up long before the sun, suited up in camo, yes I said camo, and in a duck blind or field, waiting for dawn to break. She’s prepped everything the night before and is ready to take on the days events.

Gretchen is a hunting dog photographer. Working dogs or not, they are pets, but these are pets that earn their keep so to speak. The dogs she works with hunt birds, both water and land, which means they are retrievers and pointers. They are breeds like Labrador’s, Spaniels of all varieties, and German Shorthair’s..

Continue reading the rest of the article.

Chocolate Microwave Cake in a Mug- Tastes like and Otis Spunkmeyer Cupcake


•1 large coffee mug
•4 tablespoons plain flour (do not use self-rising)
•4 tablespoons sugar
•2 tablespoons baking cocoa
•1 egg
•3 tablespoons milk
•3 tablespoons oil
•3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
•Small splash of vanilla
•Chocolate syrup (optional)
•Whipped topping (optional)


1.Add dry ingredients to mug, & mix well .
2.Add egg & mix thoroughly.
3.Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.
4.Add chocolate chips (if using), vanilla, mix again.
5.Set mug in the microwave & cook for 2½ to 3 min at 1,000 watts.
6.Cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don’t be alarmed!
7.Some report that 2½ minutes works best. It depends upon your microwave. So, watch carefully to not over do it!
8.Remove from microwave.
9.Allow cake to cool a little, then tip out onto a plate, if desired.
10.Drizzle with chocolate syrup and top with whipped topping, if desired!
11.This can serve 2 if you care to share!