Going all in on giving back with Shelter Me Photography

This year, SmugMug wanted to do something a little different for the holidays. We’ve partnered with 12 incredible photographers to bring together a breathtaking collection of photographs that make perfect gifts. Plus, for every print, SmugMug will be donating a portion of your purchase directly to Shelter-Me Photography, an organization that uses photography to give shelter pets a better chance of adoption. Shelter-Me founder, Nanette Martin, shared the origins of this literal pet project.


Imagine being on the edge of massive professional success in photography. Imagine having been published in LIFE, People Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Reader’s Digest and many, many more. Imagine your photos in coffee table books and your work in film. Imagine being behind the lens covering national tragedies like 9/11, the Columbine massacre, and Katrina. Then imagine dropping all of that and devoting your life’s work to making compelling pictures of ownerless pets.

That’s exactly what Nanette Martin did. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, an influx of families who had been displaced found themselves homeless in Hammond, Louisiana. Many families chose to surrender their pets during that trying time, unable to care for them, but the shelter in Hammond couldn’t keep up with the sheer number of new arrivals.

In March 2006, Nanette volunteered to drive one of three vans filled with around 60 dogs who were scheduled for euthanasia from the Tangipahoa Parish Animal Control Shelter in Hammond to Atlanta. As Nanette says, “That was a turning point in my life and career as a professional photography.” She tells it best.


The day before we left, someone asked me to photograph the dogs so they could post them online to give folks in Atlanta a chance to see who was coming to town. After nine hours on the road with my head stuck out the window (I had the pleasure of chauffeuring a van load of vomiting, crying puppies with diarrhea), we arrived at our destination where a crowd of people and several news crews were anxious to meet our precious cargo. To this day, I will never forget where I was standing, the angle of the sun, the direction of the wind and the look on the transport coordinator’s face when she pulled me aside to let me know nearly every one of the dogs was spoken for because of my pictures. Then she added, “Your images are making the difference between life and death for these animals.”

My career was literally in launch mode when everything came to a screeching halt that day, standing in a parking lot in Atlanta, Georgia, listening to a rescuer paint my new horizon.

I never saw it coming and I never looked back. From that day on, I focused all my efforts and resources towards photographing homeless pets. I ran out of money on a regular basis but it didn’t seem to matter. People magically showed up with resources to keep me going. I co-founded Shelter-me Photography in 2009 when it became clear that to keep this effort going we would need far more than luck and fairy dust.

SmugMug is thrilled to be partnering with such an amazing organization devoted to giving shelter pets a better chance at being adopted. For our part, we’re donating a portion of every purchase during our holiday print sale this year to Shelter-Me Photography. Whether you’re buying a brand new piece of wall art, a paper print for a friend, or a slick new custom phone case, your dollars will be going to a great cause, and that’s something to feel good about this season. Happy #GivingTuesday!

Check out the print sale here before it ends.

Written by SmugMug

Nov 26, 2016 · 3 min read

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