By Jasmine Cabanaw
Volunteering with rescue organizations inspired Angie Dahlquist Tollefson’s career in photography. Now her photographs of animals in shelters are inspiring people to adopt, and are capturing our hearts.
When did you start being a cat lover?
I have been a cat lover ever since I visited my cousin’s farm when I was about six-years-old and their barn cat had a litter of kittens. I liked them so much that they named one after me. When I was 10 I got a cat for my birthday and I’ve always had one ever since.
How did fostering cats inspire you to take up photography?
When I fostered cats I was eager to help them find their forever home so that I could help more cats! I learned that a good picture on Petfinder helped them get more attention, but it wasn’t easy getting a great picture. I started learning more about photography and lighting so that I could get better pictures to go with their online bios.
How important do you think photos are for getting animals adopted?
I think the photo has a huge impact in getting an animal adopted. I’ve had people tell me that they adopted a certain pet because they fell in love with the picture online. One friend jokes that she hasn’t forgiven me because although the puppy was adorable in her picture, she is quite naughty!
What is your favorite thing about photographing felines?
There are so many things that I love. I love capturing the wisdom in an older cat, I love the classic artful lines in a cat that’s trying to ignore the camera, I love getting a whole litter of kittens to watch the feather toy so that I can get group shots. Each cat is so unique; I never tire of trying to capture an image that represents how I really see them.
What other animals do you photograph?
All of them! I like getting out my macro lens to photograph insects, I enjoy hanging out in the swamp to watch the herons in their rookery. I’ve been hired to photograph dogs, cats, and horses.
How has your photography influenced your life?
I almost always have a camera on me, and I don’t own an iphone, so I carry my big digital SLR around. I surprised a friend recently when I pulled it out of my purse; she couldn’t believe it fit in there, but I explained that I picked the purse because my camera and an extra lens fit inside. I’ve done a “365” challenge for the past 3 years, so I need to take a photo every day. It’s been a great way to document my life and to challenge myself. At the end of the year, most of my photos are of animals of one kind or another.