Mark Rogers became known for his work with rescue groups early on, and that will always be core to what he does. He made the choice to do something with his career where he could actually help someone or something else and not just be focused on money. Mark got involved with the “My Mutt” animal rescue program run by Pet Food Express – a California pet supply company. If you donate $250 or more to a rescue, they’ll send a photographer like Mark to take your pet’s picture for a poster that will hang in one of their stores. Pet Food Express pays for everything, so 100% of the donation goes to the rescue. The posters have the pet’s name plus the rescuer’s, so it really helps get the word out. Each store has dozens of them. Mark has shot about 1,000 of these over the last 10 years and it’s really been a game changer for him.
Rogers charity work does not stop there. He works with Veterinary Street Outreach Services (VET SOS), a program that offers free veterinary check-ups and treatments for the pets of San Francisco’s homeless. “It’s been a pet project of mine ever since and you simply can’t walk away from one of the clinics without being changed,” he says. “The bond between the animals and their people is as strong as you’ll ever see it and the effort given by the volunteer vets, vet techs and other folks who give their time is truly inspiring.”
One of the early shoots he did for VET SOS reconnected a young homeless woman with her family. They hadn’t seen her in two or three years and recognized her from photos he’d taken of her and a puppy she’d brought to a clinic. He also was able to connect another one of his favorite groups, Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, with one of their ongoing major donors.
Shooting with pets can get crazy, he says. “One of my oddest jobs was photographing a tiny leopard gecko in front of the Golden Gate Bridge,” he recalls. “The unpredictability and guaranteed spontaneity of working with animals is invigorating.”
His two pets, a 12-year old Corgi/Terrier mix named Bizzy and a white/orange domestic shorthair cat named Jimmy Chew, are his inspiration. “I seem to have a knack for getting to core of animals’ personalities with my images. I routinely hear from clients that when they look at my photographs they see their pets as they truly are,” he says.
The list of charities he supports is long. VET SOS is a favorite, as is Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. PAWS (Pets are Wonderful Support) and Friends of San Francisco Animal Care and Control are two others close to his heart. His first book, called Thanks for Picking up My Poop: Everyday Gratitude from Dogs, has been very successful. Mark also has a book on dog training coming out in 2018.
His best advice for photographing pets? “Take your shot at pet level. That will make it about them and not you. Also, don’t shoot out in direct sun unless it’s first thing in the morning or toward the end of the day when the light angle is nice and low,” he advises.
So, get out there and enjoy photographing your pets! With patience, you’re sure to get at least one that you’ll love.