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Sunday, August 4, 2013


Meet TJ, the animal control officer that helped us find Sala when he was missing for 48 hours.  TJ connected the dots between a phone call reporting a strange dog in our neighbor’s backyard and a missing dog flyer I hand delivered to him at the Nacogdoches Animal Shelter.  After seeing the flyer, TJ tracked down the number of the caller from the previous day, called them back a few times until getting them on the phone, then waited for the caller to return home before calling again to see if the dog was still there.

 He then asked a series of questions to see if it was our boy Sala.  Only once all of these calls were made did I get a call from TJ himself, who happily and confidently said, “Mr. Bellinger, I think we may have found your dog.”  Those words and his voice still ring through my head every now and then when I think back to those awful few days.  TJ is our hero.  If it weren’t for his detective work, we might not have found Sala until it was too late.  As it is, we found him in the nick of time, got him in to surgery right away and he’s now on track to make a full recovery.

I returned to the Nac Animal Shelter a day after Sala came out of surgery to thank TJ and the staff there for their hard work, and I vowed to give back by donating some photography.  I also vowed to make TJ’s portrait and to try to make him look like a superhero.  TJ is very humble and a very hard worker so it was difficult to pull him away from the phones and his other duties, but eventually we made it happen.  I hope he likes it.  I wish I could have done more for the shelter before leaving, but it was a hectic last three weeks in TX.  I plan to keep donating photography for animal shelters in Billings once we are settled in.

I used the Joel Grimes, three light technique for this photo.  I think this lighting technique creates a dramatic hero look, and that’s why it’s used heavily in sports portraiture.  Joel has a whole series of tutorials on his Framed Network show called “Lit Up” if you are interested in learning more.  I liked having the kennels in the background even though they are a little distracting.  www.paulbellinger.com

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