For those of you who aren’t familiar with my journey into photography, it actually started at a service dog training school just north of Atlanta in Milton, GA, called Canine Assistants. I worked there for years as a service dog instructor and while I was there, I picked up photography as a hobby. My photography goals originally only included taking nicer photos of my own dogs – yes, I am one of THOSE dog parents, haha!
The Chairman of the Board of Directors at that time was a retired photojournalist named David Scott. He’s an incredible photographer, and he generously took me under his wing and give me a solid foundation in photography. For a while after that, I only took photos of my dogs and the service dogs in training at Canine Assistants. From there I started picking up paid gigs here and there to photograph other people’s dogs, and Kevin Lowery Photography was born. For the first year of in business, KLP existed only as a pet photography brand. After that year, I started shooting more people for fun, and the rest is history.
…But back to Canine Assistants. Located on an almost 20-acre farm, it’s a service dog school that places many service dogs every year with children and adults who need them. They range from people with physical disabilities requiring help with mobility and physical tasks to folks with epilepsy who need help when seizures happen. The work that Canine Assistants does is so valuable and needed; I’m so grateful that I get to be a small part of their operation still.
David, the photojournalist who mentored me, is the photographer who usually shoots and documents their recipient camps, which is the time of year when 7-10 new recipients come to the farm for 2 weeks to be matched with their new service dogs and learn how to navigate life with their new best friends. A couple weeks before June’s recipient camp, David sustained a shoulder injury due to a biking accident. He’s okay, but he was ordered by his doctor not to lift anything (including a camera) for 8 weeks. To my excitement (AND SUPER NERVOUSNESS), I got drafted in at the last moment to photograph recipient camp. It was such a joyful, beautiful experience. I found myself so nervous the whole time because I just wanted to do these amazing people justice, and perhaps even more so, I wanted to make my teacher and first mentor proud.
The first two dogs seen (both female golden retrievers) were placed with handler teams from Children’s Hospital of Atlanta to be full-time hospital employees and provide therapy work for patients and their families. All of the other dogs were placed with recipients with various disabilities from Canine Assistants’s long waiting list.
Below are some of my favorite photos from the recipient camp. <3
For more information about Canine Assistants, click here to go to their website. They are nonprofit and do not charge for their service dogs, even though EACH DOG costs around $25,000 to grow, nurture, and teach for the time they spend at Canine Assistants. Recipients receive service dogs free of charge; all donations go directly toward the teaching of service dogs and placement of those dogs with children and adults who need them. Follow them here on Facebook and Instagram.