08/05/2018 11:35 SAST | Updated 08/05/2018 11:35 SAST

Professional Photos Can Change A Dog's Life

The portraits by award-winning photographer Emma O'Brien get dogs at the SPCA adopted much more quickly

Emma O'Brien

Award-winning photographer Emma O'Brien never thought she would be taking snaps of dogs, but fate thrust her in that direction, and she fell in love with it.

The British portrait photographer moved to South Africa in 2009, and two years later she partnered with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Sandton.

"I adopted a dog from Sandton SPCA in February 2011, and when I was there I saw that they need help fundraising. We came up with the idea of doing an annual calendar," she said.

O'Brien has seven dogs, five which were strays, and a rescue parrot, so working with distressed and abandoned animals was a natural fit.


"I realised that I was quite good at it, and people started commissioning me to photograph their dogs. It kind of grew as a passion from there, and I realised goodness, I love doing this," O'Brien added.

"I started shooting portraits of the dogs waiting for homes, needing to be adopted — and then we found that by [my] taking professional portraits of them, they were adopted much quicker."

Emma O'Brien

Her most recent projects is a book called "Mutts" that she has used to raise even more funds for strays.

"The book is a collection of portraits of adopted mixed-breed rescue dogs. They are the dogs you find most often in shelters. They are kind of difficult to home, because they do not look like a specific breed."

Emma O'Brien

The proceeds go towards the Sandton SPCA and Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW).