How I give back Since the inception of Cowbelly in 2003, I have had a strong personal drive to help support homeless animals. Every year I have donated to PAWS (Progressive Animal Welfare Society), outside of Seattle Washington, and when I still lived in Seattle, I shot their wall calendar which helped them raise over $45,000 in donations annually. More recently, I learned about Rayne, a sweet but disfigured Pitbull who had been the resident of a local animal shelter for over seven years, and I made it my core mission of 2017 to help her find a home, using photographs I made of her two days before Christmas last year. I lost sleep at night thinking of her in her kennel every night and day for the past seven years. I thought back to the many many memories I shared with my own dog over the same seven year period, and that whole time Rayne was living in a concrete cell. It broke my heart. I wanted to bring her home and spoil her rotten, but my own dog-aggressive dog wouldn't have it. It took several months, and many posts on her Instagram page that I set up and ran for her (@raynebarker), but she finally found her forever home. For days afterward, I cried tears of joy every time I thought of Rayne's good news. It was truly the best news I could have all year. The 'Rayne Campaign' was a tremendous time and energy commitment, but I hope to do more of that for equally needy animals. The year prior to Rayne's shoot, I traveled to Cleveland Ohio to teach a seminar in photographing shelter animals to a non-profit that supports all of the animal rescue groups in the region. I have a lot of experience teaching, but teaching other photographers about shelter photography is extra special, because I know it will at least indirectly help animals find their forever homes. And that's incredibly rewarding. I'm also a card-carrying supporter of the Humane Society of the U.S. Although my shooting/travel schedule makes it hard for me to commit to regular photo shoots at the local shelters, I do anything I can whenever I can. My life wouldn't be complete without my own 'previously-enjoyed' dog Fergie, who I rescued from a shelter in 2005, and if I can help any other dog or cat out there find a home using my photography skills, it means I've contributed to what could potentially be an incredibly positive impact on another person and animal's life. And that makes my heart very happy.