I can honestly say that over the past 3 years working and building blanket has been an extra special experience. This is largely due to the amount of incredibly talented, kind, caring, sincere, inspiring (and mostly crazy) people that I have had the privilege to connect with online. I am humbled by their selfless acts and untiring dedication to animal rescue and welfare.
Robyn Arouty can definitely be included in all of those categories and more! It feels like I have always been a fan and supporter of her work, and after recently working with her I simply had to get to know more - Robyn the immensely talented photographer is abundantly full of creativity, energy, passion and has a huge love of animals, and now we get to find out more about the woman behind the lens and what makes this lady tick! Her commitment to her work is absolutely outstanding and at blanket we were blown away by her professionalism and eagerness to deliver the perfect job for us – and she did, with bells on. We couldn’t have been more impressed or happy!
So, grab a cuppa and spend some time with Robyn – you know you want to!
Thank you so much Robyn for letting us all into your world, it’s been great getting to know you a little more!
All images supplied by Robyn Arouty Photography ⬅ Make sure you take a peek!
Your photography is widely known, but apart from animals and cameras, what other passions do you have?
What else is there?? Just kidding. Let’s see… I’m super obsessed with mid-century modern design. And I rarely buy anything newly made.
What do you like most about being a pet photographer?
That’s an interesting question… First, I actually have never defined myself as a ‘pet photographer’. I’m a commercial and portrait photographer who happens to be a crazy dog lady and gets tons of joy out of photographing dogs and their families. I started about 7 years ago as a product phtographer and one day I brought my camera up to the animal control facility where I volunteered on the weekends. Loved taking pictures of the volunteers with the dogs they were walking and posted several of those shots on Facebook. Soon after, I teamed up with Craig Malisow, an animal loving writer from The Houston Press, to do a weekly feature on their Hairballs blog called ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog (or Cat). It was very popular and within 6 weeks I had a full-time business I had never planned. But, to answer your question, it never feels like work when I’m with the animals. Dogs are their true selves 100% of the time. What’s better then that?
Making the career leap from psychotherapist to award winning photographer is a serious life change, not to mention a brave one too – what drove you to make the change?
In 1996, I decided to work towards leaving a career in corporate sales to do something more meaningful in my life and be of service in some way. The next 4 years were spent working towards a masters degree in psychology in the evenings and on weekends. In hindsight, I suppose finding myself and understanding the depths of my own feelings were probably the driving force that led me to go back to school. I loved the therapy work and my patients too, but eventually the wave of creative juices was something I could no longer ignore. Doing things like hitting the estate sale circuit and researching the perfect auto body shop to powder coat my newly acquired vintage metal desk were taking priority. The turning point was definitely the day I decided to redecorate my private practice office for the third time in six months, so I knew the only ethical thing to do would be to go on sabbatical and pursue my new dreams…teaching myself photography and graphic design… and I never looked back. I suppose the way we see ourselves is different from how people see us and in turn, is different from how we truly are. I’m still trying to figure it all out, so I’ll have to get back to you on that!
As a rescuer and animal advocate you do a tremendous amount of work for animal groups and also have developed a great voice within that community – what is your proudest achievement so far?
Wow. That’s a tough one… I’m probably most proud of the courage I discovered along the way. Guilty of being Miss People Pleaser USA as a teenager and young adult, rescue has helped find my voice and given me permission to speak freely. In fact, most days I don’t mind at all whose feathers I ruffle, as long as I can get the dogs what they need. This has really been the backbone of the rescue and advocacy work…and to a certain extent my business as well, which I see as a platform for the causes I care so much about. Love reading emails from people who became inspired to take photos of homeless dogs, or spayed their dog, or adopted for the first time as a result of seeing my work. Definitely proud moments.
Your blanket ID tag was designed in Maya’s memory, what is your most precious memory of her?
She always made me feel like being her Mommy was the most important job on earth.
We’d love to be a fly on the wall at one of your shoots – it looks like you and your customers are having a ball. We’d love to know what’s happening behind the scenes to create such a fun atmosphere?
Probably a lot of that “atmosphere” has been created prior to clients coming to my studio. I probably share a bit more than most on social media sites and enjoy telling stories about my clients and their pets, so when new people arrive they feel like they already know me…which I love! Honestly, I’m just doing my thing. We’re all in the moment having a good time. It’s hard to explain, so you might need to ask some of my clients. LOL. But, I guess for me it’s about the connections. Granted, my studio is rather whimsical and I’d like to think has a pretty down to earth atmosphere, so it really lends itself to allowing the most natural things to happen. It’s a safe place and they know it. We are laughing constantly and getting silly and you see the digital results of that. :)
All the dogs in your images look very happy and comfortable – how do you do that? Are you a Dog Whisperer in a secret life? lol
My studio is very pet & people friendly. The 4-leggeds love the scents of other dogs and all the toys and treats. And the 2-leggeds get a kick out of my vintage camera collection and other fun trinkets sprinkled around. It’s totally about having a great time. Plus, I think I really “get” dogs. We treat them with respect and give them space while they’re visiting, which is no different than my 2-legged clients. I work on their terms I guess you could say.
What’s your your most memorable shoot?
I was introduced to a woman named Kelle Mann Davis about a year ago. We were trying to rescue a dog that had been hanging around a cemetery for a few weeks but he was scared and wouldn’t let anyone near him. Kelle was an “expert trapper” and offered to help us. It turned out she had recently retired from her nursing career and started a new organization called Forgotten Dogs of The Fifth Ward Project . The group of volunteers help to care for abandoned and neglected dogs in an impoverished area of Houston called the Fifth Ward. This area has a significant and growing population of stray dogs, many of them abandoned by their owners and left to roam and fend for themselves.
I was instantly fascinated with this new work she was doing and asked if I could spend a day with her tagging along and taking photos. Little did we know it would turn out to be a day we would never forget. This photo of Kelle coming to the rescue of a young puppy atop an abandoned bridge will give you just a taste of our unforgettable day together, which I think was a significant turning point in my work as a photographer. The group has seen quite a bit of success since then and I’m proud to be one of their biggest supporters.
What’s the funniest thing to happen on a shoot?
This was the third time for The Burtons to be in my studio. First time for pocketshots (my monthly fundraising events) with their dog Zapato, second time for maternity photos, and this time with their super awesome new addition Miles. Ryan is a comic strip writer and the family loves to have fun and play, so they brought some groovy props to the shoot. It’s always a good idea to bring your photographer food you know, so they had ordered a pizza for us on their way to the studio. ;) When the pizza guy arrived, they were wearing the super hero masks. I invited the cool pizza dude (who appeared a bit confused as to what was going on) to join us. Liz and Ryan spoke to him in character and I just kept clicking!
What would be your dream assignment?
Wow. These are really good questions! My dream shoot would be to do an amazing high budget Annie Leibovitz-esque editorial project with fascinating people and dogs that in some way highlighted one of the causes I obsess about on a daily basis.
You, Lola and Ozzy are a match made in heaven – how would you describe their personalities?
Ozzy was a crazy bullet until he lost his sight secondary to an autoimmune disorder about a month ago. Now he is a really cool dude and totally enjoys the special attention that he’s getting from me & the rest of our pack. LOLA is a fairy dog mother. She is in perpetual motion fluttering around spreading cheer and making sure everyone is happy.
What new projects do you have coming up in 2013 – can you share?
Yes. But then I’d have to kill ya. ;)