Rescue pets get frame, fame
BY DENISE M. BARAN-UNLAND Correspondent July 22, 2013 1:54PM
Pet photographer Christine Schmieder of Joliet poses with the newest member of her animal household, 11 week old and 3 legged Ahab. | Supplied photo
Updated: August 24, 2013 6:10AM
With so many animals living in rescues and needing owners, it’s hard for volunteers to showcase the winning characteristics of each one.
That’s where Christine Schmieder of Joliet — owner of Shooting the Gap photography — steps in. A lifelong animal devotee and kennel assistant at Animal Care Hospital in Morris, Schmieder often does photography for these groups to help pets and prospective owners find each other.
For instance, one rescue had trouble finding a “forever home” for a 3-month-old pit bull puppy. Schmieder set the puppy in a field and snapped several pictures. Several days later, the puppy had that home.
“If you see a picture of a dog behind a chain-link fence, you won’t see the beauty and personality of that dog,” Schmieder said, “but if you bring the dog into another environment and capture its eyes, you’re like, ‘Oh, my God! I want that dog. What do I need to adopt it?’ ”
Schmieder leaves the wedding portraits to other photographers. She prefers to photograph dogs, cats, birds and horses — along with youths — shooting toward bright, colorful results to capture their essence.
“Pets, like kids, change so fast,” Schmieder said. “And pets are only with us a short time. This is one way people can say, ‘Hey, they’re our family and important in our lives.’ People who have rescued dogs like to document their progress until they’re out of foster care and into their forever homes.”
Schmieder grew up with dogs. In her 20s, she owned and showed American Saddlebreds (the preferred horse for plantation owners because of their slow gait and rack) and then gave up the time and cost of maintaining them in favor of raising her two sons.
Today, Schmieder owns a Scottish terrier; her teen boys own Labradors.
She developed her photography talents, as many parents do, by taking many pictures of her children and then scrapbooking them. Schmieder began with a 35-millimeter camera until digital became available. Schmieder prefers the flexibility of the latter.
“Film is expensive to develop,” Schmieder said. “Also with film, you get one shot and that’s it. With digital, you can take six pictures — click, click, click — and then you can choose the best one.”
Occasionally, Schmieder will simply give her pictures away, as her goal is to simply “make people happy,” especially since action shots of high school football players and photographs of pets staring deeply into the camera lens are difficult to obtain, particularly without “touch-ups,” which Schmieder refuses to use.
“I just want to provide great photos and memories for people,” Schmieder said. “Any opportunity to play with my camera and I’m in. I do it mostly for fun, but if I can make a little money at it, too, then cool.”
She recently entered 12 pieces in the Grundy County Fair and won ribbons for eight of them: three first-place awards, two seconds and three thirds. To refine her skills, Schmieder is working toward her digital photography certificate at Joliet Junior College.
“I’m learning how to control my camera,” Schmieder said, “instead of letting it control me.”
The newest member of her personal animal kingdom is Ahab, an 11-week-old, three-legged cat that Schmieder recently adopted. Its original owners wanted to put the cat to sleep, Schmieder said, after a life-threatening lawn mower accident.
Schmieder’s veterinarian amputated its leg and then Schmieder adopted it.
Raising a cat is a new experience for Schmieder, who is rapidly learning that felines differ greatly from canines.
“Cats are moody. They’re not snuggly like dogs,” Schmieder said. “One minute they’re cuddling next to me and the next minute their growling at me and then they’re gone.”
For more information, visit Schmieder’s “Shooting the Gap” Facebook page. Contact Schmieder at 815-341-8818 or email@example.com.