Hi, My name is Adam Goldberg…
and I am the Lead Pet Photographer and Storyteller for Tampa’s AGoldPhoto. I take photos of rescued and adopted animals, tell their story and highlight an issue related to animal welfare. My mission to promote the benefits of adoption and raise money for animal shelters.
Since I was a little kid, My Dad has always told me to find my passion and it won’t feel like work. Well, Dad was right! It’s been a journey, but I’ve found my passion in being a pet photographer.
The journey to finding my passion began in December of 2013 when I started working for the Humane Society of Broward County. Oddly enough, my Dad also worked for the same shelter in the early 90s, managing the fundraising department. Like father, like son.
Since I was introduced to finding my passion at an early age, it’s been quite a journey to get to this point, but that aha moment didn’t come until after I left the Humane Society. I realized that a piece of me was missing because I wasn’t working with animals on the reg anymore. I was initially hired to manage the shelter website and social media accounts, but 10 months into working there, I was asked to take over the photography program too.
Social media has always been an interest of mine, but I never thought about being a professional photographer. This journey involves my Dad more than I thought because he had dark room growing up and was really into photography, but that didn’t rub off on me until I was asked to revamp the shelter photography program.
I worked for the Humane Society of Broward County for 2 years and I adopted my first dog, Rigby. Rigby and I have since moved back to Tampa, where I originally went to college. During my time at the shelter, I taught myself photography, how to work with animals and I loved knowing that I was making an impact, not only for the animals, but for the person that adopted them as well. A common phrase used in shelters is that the animal adopts the person and not the other way around. They adopt you!
I didn’t know anything about photography
Sure. I knew how to take photos with my cell phone, but I had no skills in taking quality photos, let alone knowledge of the right equipment, lighting and so on. The more obvious challenge was learning how to work with the animals. They constantly move and if they’re untrained, getting them to sit and stay can be extremely challenging.
I watched several videos, read articles and lived on YouTube where I watched photography tutorials. I would also look at the photography of other animal shelters, reach out to them about their process and soak up any information they would share.
Prior to me taking over the photography program, photos of the animals were taken in their kennels and the photos didn’t show them in the best light. You can see this before and after of Eddie in a Facebook note I published. It’s clear that shelter animals are scared and nervous, but my craft has become photographing them to showcase their true personality.
When working for the Humane Society of Broward County, I was able to get the proper equipment donated from a large pet food brand. It was a “ruff” go at first, but after a few months of trial and error, I really nailed down the process.
5 days a week, I would take photos of 10-15 dogs and 20-30 cats. The daily repetition of photographing animals and editing them, really helped me hone my skills as a photographer.
Shelters are typically challenged with the high volume of pets that need photos because new animals are constantly being surrendered. This overwhelming need results in lower-quality photos because of limited resources. A low quality photo doesn’t do the pet justice at all, especially since photos are typically done at intake using an iPad or a webcam when the animals are scared and confused.
While working at the Humane Society of Broward County, it was typical for me to research other animal shelter social media pages for ideas. In my search, I saw a photo that really touched me. It captured the reaction of four women who were surprised with adorable kittens at their office. Their reaction was pure jubilation. It was this photo that lead me to come up with the idea for Snuggle Delivery.
Snuggle Delivery has raised over $15,000 and has helped numerous animals find new homes. The concept went viral in a matter of days and I was featured in local newscasts, national publications such as the Huffington Post, NY Post and several others. There was even a mini-documentary made about Snuggle Delivery.
My Journey Back to Tampa
In December 2015, I left the Humane Society of Broward County to pursue a role at a growing software company. A friend of mine in Tampa had an opening at the company he worked for. I interviewed and a few weeks later, made the move back to Tampa to take on the role. I graduated from the University of South Florida in Tampa in 2010 and moved away after graduating.
Something was Missing
After a few weeks back in Tampa, I realized that a piece of me was missing. I really missed working with animals and making a difference. I realized that I could use the skills I learned in my previous role and I could help promote the benefits of adoption through pet photography.
Prior to working at the shelter, I didn’t know anything about animal welfare and I figured my friends didn’t either. I was getting a lot of attention from the photos I was taking so I thought I could lure people to my website with the photos, but once I had their attention, make them aware of an issue related to animal welfare and give them an education at the same time.
Not only do I photograph already adopted animals, but I also volunteer at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay on weekends to take photos of their adoptable animals for their website and social media.
I’m thrilled that my photography and storytelling has made such an impact and can’t wait to see what the future holds on for not only Tampa but, but also nationally and globally as well. You can follow my progress on Instagram or on Facebook as well.
Let’s Work Together
If you’re looking for a Tampa Pet Photographer, want to work together or curious about my journey, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.